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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Club Coordination: A Must Have

Not all DECs have a lot of clubs. In fact, some have no clubs at all. In Marion, we have 10 chartered clubs, all geographically based. So its important for us to have some level of coordination. Its just as important for all DECs who have clubs to have a club coordinator, or someone who works solely with club leadership.

In Marion County, we had a great lady who organized and help start a lot of these clubs. Today, our DEC couldn't be more grateful. Through these clubs we have access into communities (6 of which are gated, restricted communities) where we wouldn't no anybody if it hadn't been for the presence of the club.

The problem that we have had is that because there has been little coordination, as well as leadership from the DEC after these clubs were started, clubs have grown to be very autonomous institutions. Some (not all) view the DEC as a pesky, intrusive group who only seem to show up when there's an election or the club needs to be rechartered.

We started changing this practice at the start of the new administration in January. The new chairman visited all of the clubs between January and March. He is set to tour them again starting this month to discuss progress and new challenges that we face ahead. This is a great start, and I would recommend other DEC chairs around the state do the same with their clubs.

But DECs have to do even more than this. There has to be a constant coordination process. This is why every DEC that has clubs should have a club coordinator. Even for DECs who don't have clubs, clubs are important, and they should try and appoint a club coordinator to go out and start new clubs (another post coming in the future.) Here are some things a club coordinator can do to make sure clubs are generally on the same page, and that they don't drift too far from their sponsoring DEC:

Create A General Program: Clubs can play a tremendously helpful role in building a DEC's field capacity - particularly if some (or all in Marion's case) are geographically based. Precinct captains? Block captains? General volunteers? Donors? All can be found within clubs. Remember, clubs should essentially be funnels for interested people to become activists and community leaders. The club coordinator can work with the DEC's coordinated campaign and field (precinct team, committee, whatever) teams to make sure clubs are doing their share of the heavy lifting.

Help With Branding: Every club should have a distinctive logo, which sets them apart from the rest. The club coordinator should work hard to make sure each club has the proper materials (brochures, business cards, letterhead, banners for events, etc...) to make them stand out and be effective in their communities. Remember, Democratic clubs can also be folks' first impressions of the Democratic Party - they need to look good.

Help With Communications: A good club coordinator should work with any techies that are working with the DEC to make sure every club has either its own website, or a subdomain within the DEC's website. They should either find someone in each club who can do basic editing to provide the web page with up-to-date information. The club coordinator should also make sure that clubs are advertising their meetings well in the local newspaper and through other media outlets. If your DEC has a robodialer, it can help raise awareness and attendance.

Assistance with Rechartering: Clubs have to recharter I believe every year (someone can correct me here if I'm wrong.) The club coordinator should work closely with each club to make sure everything is being done properly. They will be particularly needed if there's a new rule or regulation that's coming up (for instance, the whole registering as a PAC or CCE thing which occurred this year.) Having a knowledgeable club coordinator can prevent any miscommunication or confusion in the rechartering process.

Good, healthy clubs equals a good, healthy DEC.

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