|Dear ExCom Leaders,|
I wanted to write with a strong endorsement of the plan put forward for adopting LVD as the criteria for a certified membership count for DA country committees in 2015.
The Value of Our Membership
As both others have pointed out, our membership database is our most valuable resource as an organization, because it allows us to reach out to a very sizable pool of voters -- who have already declared their political preference -- in every state and voting district.
As Katie has noted from her work with other State Parties, this is a group of voters that are NOT being reached by traditional state-side media and campaign strategies.
If our membership list is not accurate and up-to-date then it is a clear sign that we are out of touch with our members, that they are not getting the contact and information that they need to be able to participate in upcoming US elections.
The Purpose of LVD
The core message of the LVD plan is that: It matters that we establish contact and verify the accuracy of the voting data of each of our members -- because we want them to vote in US elections! No-one, to my knowledge, has yet raised a viable counter argument against this position.
The outline and intent of the LVD proposal has been public for some time now. LVD numbers were reported to all of DA Leadership in parallel with last year's official membership count. While I believe most leaders understand the challenge posed by regularly contacting and updating DA membership records, it is very significant that there have been no substantive objections to the aim of the proposal from any country leaders that have come back to the IT team, or to the ExCom. In fact, this has been responded to quite positively with requests for support in implementing LVD from the leaders responsible for membership database management in some of our largest CCs, such as France, Germany, UK, Italy, and Canada.
Supporting our Database Management Volunteers
I think it is very important to recognize that the LVD plan has been designed, and implemented by some of our longest serving and most trusted membership database volunteers, who have both served as the Chair of some of our largest CCs -- namely, Sheri Temple (Germany) and Gail Fagen (Italy). They have invested in this effort because they think it is in the best interests of the whole organization.
We have already spent considerable funds creating the technical capability to make this feature possible. This has been a long-developed process, first initiated and approved under the previous ExCom. After providing these volunteers with the previous support and encouragement to pursue this solution, and the considerable effort they have invested -- on our behalf -- to work out practical means for implementation, we owe it to our volunteers and CC Admins to carry through and implement the LVD plan.
The LVD plan is already having a positive impact
And as a result of the previous messaging to CC leaders and database admins, we have already seen a considerably increased focus on direct membership contact, such as by phone-banking. We see an immediate example of this in DA Canada's massive 2000 calls campaign planned to start in the next weeks. For many countries, the focus has changed from simply assuming that we have X-number of members on our mailing list, to asking: "are we reaching them?", and "Did they get the message that they need to register and vote?"
LVD improves on the accuracy of our membership database and with the shift in focus to an LVD date rather than percentages of missing or inaccurate data, actually discourages CCs from just deleting members who may still be out there, but whom we haven't been able to reach.
Real Membership Numbers
Implementing LVD gives us an opportunity to restore balance and trust in our membership numbers, by not just amassing names on a meaningless and unresponsive mailing list, but making sure that we are doing everything we can as an organization to communicate with and engage those "members" in the political process. If we are going to call them "members" and claim to represent them through our local country committees, then we at least owe it to our members to make sure that we have their up-to-date data and that we have successfully communicated with them about the State-side elections where they can make a difference back home.
Metrics and Measuring our Success
The Obama Campaigns brought about a major change in the political landscape by focusing intensively on deliverable, meaningful measurement of the outreach to individual named voters. No longer was it adequate to simply claim that there were X-number of "likely democratic" voters in a district, and purchasing quantities of TV time to cover the area, what mattered was personally reaching those voters, engaging with them one-on-one, and getting them to the polls to vote -- those were the metrics that made the difference.
LVD is the best indicator -- and motivator -- that we have to encourage CCs to actually reach out, contact members, and report on their success -- this creates a consistent, quantifiable reporting measure that we have never really had previously in DA.
I strongly encourage, and ask, that each of you vote in favor of adopting the LVD proposal. I believe that it is important for this ExCom to demonstrate the leadership and vision to show where our priorities are and how we want to improve the effectiveness of Democrats Abroad for the long-term.
I welcome your questions and our discussion on this issue.
Regional Vice-Chair EMEA