Convention Discussion: Suggested change to processing of New Members

BY: Northern Virginia Club| April 8, 2014

Submitted by the Northern Virginia Club

Our use of the internet as a recruiting tool for our party has been a great success.  In Virginia alone we received nearly 100 new applications for membership since the last Party Convention. And Virginia is not even an industrial state with a strong “left” tradition.

Based on our experience in Virginia, we would like to pass on some recommendations.

First, we should discontinue the practice of letting people contribute dues money online at the time they first apply.  It creates several kinds of confusion.  New applicants have told us that they are worried and uncertain as to whether their dues payments are credited to them, and therefore what their status as party members is.  The club or district treasurer faces a hiatus between knowing who has paid dues online and who she or he has to go after for dues, so may not be able to answer such questions immediately.  On the other hand some people have got the idea that just because they put down money that they are now full fledged CPUSA members with all the rights attached thereunto.  In a few cases, such people have turned out to be troublemakers who do not belong in the Party but since they have “paid dues”, it is hard to deal with the situation.  

We would suggest the following modification.

  1. We would continue to encourage people to APPLY to join our party online.

  2. They would not be considered party members until such time as they have been met with and vetted by one or more representatives of the party collective in their area, or, in unorganized areas, a member or designated representative of the New Members’ Committee.

  3. At that time, the treasurer or other representative of the party collective in question would explain our dues structure them and get them to pay their dues. Again, in unorganized areas the New Members Committee would figure out how to do this.  Upon request, members would receive receipts for the dues paid.

This would relieve the people in our New York office of the burden of keeping track of dues and processing them electronically for most members.   Online payment capacity would be continued for contributions to the party and its press.   Districts and clubs would now have the main responsibility in organized areas.  This will not overburden districts and clubs, and giving them this responsibility may strengthen them.

Secondly, in terms of how people who apply for membership online are put in touch with district and club collectives, it should be made more proactive.  When someone applies, and their application is checked by the New York office to make sure it is genuine, the next step should be for New York to send them a message telling them that they will be contacted locally, BUT ALSO giving them the name and contact information of the party comrade in the club or district who will be talking to them.  This would accomplish two things:

  1. When they get the phone call or e-mail from the district or club outreach/recruitment representative, they will know who this person is.  We have had the experience that new recruits have not returned our phone calls or e-mail messages for months because they are not sure the person calling is really the party person assigned to work with them. If this person’s name had been sent to them from the NYC office previously, they would then less likely to be nervous about responding. They would think “oh, this is the person they told me would be contacting me”.

  2. Also, if for some reason the district or club outreach/recruitment person got far behind in following up online applications, as we did in Virginia with the huge number of applications we received, the applicant her or himself could take the initiative of sending the e-mail and/or making the call.  We believe that fewer applicants would “fall through the cracks” if we did this.

A small but important point: The New Members Committee needs to give districts and clubs a heads-up if they anticipate some sort of problem with someone who has just applied to join online.

Finally, we would like to suggest that periodically we have special online recruitment events in which we sent out a focused request for people to join the CPUSA and the YCL, say on a quarterly basis.  It could be done very artistically with music and videos and everything.  In the 1940s there used to be special recruitment events under the slogan “Be a Smarty, Join the Party”.  That particular slogan probably would not produce anything but nervous laughter In this day and age, but we could think of better ones.

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014


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