Membership recruitment, engagement, and retention were the focus of a daylong meeting last week attended by dozens of local and national labor unions, worker centers, community organizing groups and civic tech innovators. The day kicked off with a talk presenting an overall framework for thinking about membership recruitment., followed by a series of individual talks from veteran organizers. Afternoon sessions focused on a variety of topics including experimenting with services and benefits as membership draws, strategies for using electronic dues payment systems, locating and recruiting members through social media, and experimenting with other potential breakthrough methods for membership building. An evening session brought together social entrepreneurs and organizers for a group discussion on leveraging text messaging for organizing purposes, moving from a transactional to transformational approach to members, and the potential of SMS texting for peer to peer organizing. Convened by Rutgers' Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO), the gathering was the second convening of CIWO’s membership-building community of learning and practice...click below to read more.
Rutgers’ CIWO launched the community in February after organizations expressed a strong interest in participating in a community that would share resources, ideas, lessons and strategies around membership building. In addition to regularly convening this community, CIWO is conducting broad literature reviews and research on membership trends in voluntary and nonprofit associations. A first research brief on general trends in membership was shared with the group last week. Rutgers’ CIWO Research and Strategy Director Janice Fine, Director Marilyn Sneiderman, and Senior Program and Communications Advisor Marjorie Wood organized the event which was hosted by the National Education Association. Lunch and dinner were funded by SEIU and the Century Fund, and travel for worker center participants was provided by the Ford Foundation. Rutgers’ CIWO was launched by the School of Management and Labor Relations in 2014 to generate and disseminate new ideas, strategies and programs that address our nation’s extreme economic and racial inequality, growing precarious workforce, and decline of strong, publicly funded institutions. CIWO believes that a power deficit lies at the root of these problems and aims to strengthen the role of civic institutions including labor unions, worker centers, and community organizing groups.