By: Larry Wittner
Chair, Membership/Affiliation Committee, Peace Action National Board
Peace Action does a great job of working for a peaceful world. But it could do an even better job if it had more members. After all, it takes members to talk to their neighbors, circulate petitions, write letters to the editor, pressure their legislators, take part in vigils and demonstrations, vote in elections, and participate in the numerous other activities that are necessary for a people’s movement.
So what can you do to help increase Peace Action’s membership?
If you’re active in a Peace Action affiliate or chapter, make sure that it has a membership director. This person need not be responsible for doing all the work in garnering new members. But she or he is someone who should take responsibility for seeing to it that membership recruitment efforts are being made.
What kind of efforts? Among the best is circulating a sign-in list at Peace Action events and, soon after that, phoning or writing to non-members and asking them to join. Even if they don’t join right away, add them to your local mailing list, for they might decide to join at a later date or attend your future activities. You can also develop an attractive membership brochure with a tear-off section for people who would like to become members. These membership brochures can be distributed at Peace Action events, at the events of other groups (especially when Peace Action is a co-sponsor), and at sites where peace minded people gather.
And there are lots of other things that can be done by your Peace Action group to attract members. An affiliate or chapter newsletter provides a very effective means to reach out to new people, including those non-members on its mailing list, and can include a membership brochure or a tear-off form. Web sites can also be helpful in both advertising activities and providing a means whereby people can join Peace Action. In addition, you might decide to do a membership recruitment mailing to a list of potentially interested people—perhaps provided by a local group with similar aims, drawn up by your core activists, or both of these.
And to expand the opportunities for membership, how about providing for a limited income/student membership category? Although most groups have “regular” membership dues, many of them also provide for a dues payment that is set at a very low level, thereby enabling anyone to join who wants to do so. You might also provide a discounted membership fee for people paying to attend one of your major events, or even offer free membership to people paying for admission. Even if you’re not active in a Peace Action chapter or affiliate, you can help build Peace Action’s membership. Why not suggest to your spouse, relatives, and closest friends that they join? (They can do so through the national Peace Action website.)
Or you might know of an independent peace group that might want to become part of the Peace Action network. (In that case, contact Peace Action’s National Field Organizer Judith LeBlanc: firstname.lastname@example.org.) Also, of course, feel free to get in touch with me (email@example.com). The Membership/Affiliation Committee of the National Board is always looking for good ideas on how to increase our organizational strength. There is plenty of opportunity for growth in Peace Action. At the moment, we have about 100,000 members in a nation of over 300 million people. So let’s seize that opportunity, and build the kind of mass people’s movement that can turn around this nation—and the world.