The Membership Engagement Committee, or MEC, was created from a bylaw resolution passed at Metro DC DSA’s chapter convention last December (see 6.1.5). The purpose of the MEC is to serve as the coordinating body for our chapter’s various internal-facing departments in the membership engagement space, which includes the Mobilization Department, the Training Department and the Recruitment Department.
Each department is led by a comrade known as a steward, with the MEC itself having a chair who leads the coordination among the departments. Currently, comrade Andrew S. serves as our Mobilization Steward, alongside Comrade Sheena S, who is our Training Steward. (We are currently looking for someone to fill the role of Recruitment Steward.) I serve as chairperson of the Committee, and as required by the bylaws, act as the representative of the local’s Steering Committee
The first couple months of the MEC’s existence were spent on conducting an internal review of our chapter’s pre-existing mobilization, engagement, training and recruitment processes. This was done to lay the foundation for our work in the coming months so we could see exactly what worked – and what didn’t – across our chapter. We coupled this with brainstorming sessions on how to improve these processes, how to make them more efficient and how to inject new, creative, and bold ideas into how we engage our members.
Building on that foundation, we set about approaching the various formations, campaigns, and working groups that comprise our chapter to see how this new committee could best help them carry out their work – and how we could empower them to do their own member engagement. From meeting with our comrades in the Publications Working Group to the Communications Department of the Administrative Committee (AdCom), we slowly started to find our place within the chapter. This ultimately led us to the Campaigns Council, chaired by Comrade Kurtis H., where we presented to the various priority campaigns of the chapter on how the committee could help prepare and equip them to do their own mobilization, training and recruitment of members.
So far, comrades seem to be appreciative of the work that the MEC can offer. We have already helped find a new Young Democratic Socialists of America liaison for the chapter, Meena K., and are currently working with our comrades in the WePower and Electoral Priority Campaigns on their own mobilization efforts.
What exactly does the MEC offer to chapter members and its formations? Let’s start with chapter members broadly. Say you are a new member to Metro DC DSA. There are three ways – all of which work in tandem – for you to begin your personal engagement with our chapter. First, you can sign up for a “New Member Orientation” session, which is offered every Wednesday evening and hosted by Comrade Shannon T. You can then follow that up by requesting a 1:1 chat with a comrade – aptly called “Chat with a Comrade” – where new members are paired up with veteran members to explore ways to get involved in our chapter. Lastly, and this is something we are still in the process of establishing, there will be what we call “New Member Cohorts,” which will be set up monthly around the members who join that month. The idea behind this project is to put new members in a space alongside other new members so that they can navigate the onboarding process together and not feel overwhelmed or alone throughout the process. And for comrades new and old, we will be soon rolling out a “Volunteer Board” that will take the form of a Google Doc and Slack channel where any and all volunteer needs will be regularly and widely distributed to chapter members.
Once someone has joined our chapter and have been mobilized, the Training Department will then equip the member with the tools needed to become a great organizer. The hallmarks of the Training Department are our biannual “Organizer Training Cohorts,” one in the fall and one in the spring, where several comrades will go through a six-week course taught by some of our chapter’s most seasoned and experienced organizers. The Training Department also holds regular monthly trainings for chapter members, such as “How to Plan a Well-Attended Event” and “How to Create a Winning Organizing Committee.” The Training Department is also happy to provide custom training and strategy sessions to working groups in order to help organizing campaigns get “unstuck.” Working groups can also work with us to establish liaisons with the Training Department in order to identify training needs.
All of this amazing work was put together in the first five months since the MEC’s inauguration and could not have been possible without the dedication of every comrade that comprises it. And with several months left to go before our next convention, there is still much more work that the committee wants to accomplish. From translating our website into Spanish to creating a Slack guide for all members and challenging the traditional forms of outreach to prospective members, the Membership Engagement Committee will be working hard to grow our chapter and build out its capacity over the coming months. Because as Comrade Sheena S. likes to say, “it’s not a capacity issue, it’s a mobilization issue” – and that is how we turn Metro DC DSA into a model for other DSA chapters around the country to emulate.
If you or your campaign/working group need assistance under the purview of the MEC, reach out to me or one of the department stewards to get started! We can assist you in establishing a liaison to the Mobilization Department, who will then have access to our Member Mobilization Survey results in order to conduct rapid outreach and fill any roles you are having trouble with. The Member Mobilization Survey is an invaluable and underrated chapter resource. With the results of over a thousand filled-out forms, we have developed a rudimentary database of members’ skills, interests, language fluencies, locations, car access, availability and other data points which can then be used to mobilize volunteers for specific events and for longer term organizing.
You can contact the Membership Engagement Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.