Looking to start a new Young Democrats chapter? We’ll help you get started!
First you need to determine what type of chapter you’re looking to start!
- High School
Can be per school or a location (e.g. Mission Vista High School Democrats vs. High School Democrats of San Diego)
- College (e.g. MiraCosta College Democrats)
- Young Professionals (can have high school and college students as members, too)
- Is it going to be county-wide or a specific city/region? (e.g. San Diego County Democrats vs. South Bay Young Democrats)
- Is it going to be for Young Democrats in general, or for a specific affinity or issue-based group? (e.g. San Diego County Young Democrats vs. San Diego Young Muslim Democrats)
- Click here to get more details on what you need for chartering with the California Young Democrats.
- In general, you will need to collect the following info when recruiting members: First and Last Name, Email, Phone, Date of Birth, Street Address, City, State, and Zip Code. High School and College chapters must also collect members’ anticipated Year of Graduation.
- If eligible to vote, members must list the address they listed on their voter registration, and they must be registered Democrats. If they are ineligible to register for any reason, they can still be chartered members and be considered Aspiring Democrats.
- You need 10 members (with accurate information provided) in order to charter.
- The above rules for chartering with the California Young Democrats are mostly the same for chartering with your local county Democratic Party, though there may be some differences.
- When doing recruitment, make sure you have sign-up sheets (printed or online) that ask for the above information so that you don’t need to go back to them for it later. We recommend creating a Google Form to ask for this information, which you can then share on social media, in emails, texts, etc. and will be harder to lose!
It’s important to have the following ready before doing recruitment so you can direct people somewhere for more information or provide contact info.
- Set up a free email account for your club that you can use for all club-related communications. We recommend using gmail, such as email@example.com. You can give your Executive Board members access to this shared email.
- Once you expand, you may be interested in paying for an email with your own domain and have multiple users, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Facebook Page: This will allow your club to make announcements and share info about the club to anyone interested. Ex: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UCSDDems/. You can also set up your own Facebook URL like the one above to make it easier to remember and link to.
- Facebook Group: Useful for keeping members engaged and for coordinating events and activities. Ex: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ucsddems/. Pro tip: You can link your group to your page, and post as your page in your linked group. You can create Facebook events for the group so everyone sees them in the group, and then add them to your Facebook page afterward. Some people might have liked the page but not joined the group, and vice versa.
- Twitter: Set up a free Twitter account for your club. You can give the password to your Executive Board members, or manage it with a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Ex: https://twitter.com/sdcyoungdems
- Instagram: Set up a free Instagram account for your club. You can give the password to your Executive Board members. Ex: https://www.instagram.com/mvhsdems/.
- These are the basics, but you may also be interested in using other social media for your club, such as TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.
- Set up a free website for your club! Three good ones to use are wordpress.com, weebly.com, and wix.com. Ex: https://echsdems.wordpress.com/. These are also good for those who want to customize but have little professional coding skill. If you want to upgrade for more functionality, try squarespace.com or other pro services. Many will give you a free domain when you purchase a plan with these sites, but you can also purchase domains directly elsewhere, such as godaddy.com.
- You may also want to design a logo that you can use with the above, or use images of the Democratic Party so potential members will know what your club is about! A useful and free graphic design tool/service is Canva.
RECRUITMENT AND ENGAGEMENT
- For college and high school chapters, the easiest way to recruit is during your school’s club rush/fairs which usually happen once per semester/quarter. You may need to register officially with your school administration in order to access these events and other opportunities. You/your members can table in high-traffic areas and hand out flyers about your club and your next meeting. We have found that cardboard cut-outs of politicians like President Obama, games where you can win prizes, and other interactive activities help increase engagement. Young Professionals clubs can do this in nearby public areas or ask to post flyers in local Starbucks, etc.
- Make sure to create a public Facebook event for your club meetings/socials and post them on your social media. You can also create an Instagram post with an event reminder. Take pictures/videos during the event and share them on your social media, website, newsletters, etc. When people see how much fun you’re having, they’ll want to join in!
- Create a monthly or weekly newsletter to send out to your members! Make sure to include info about upcoming club meetings/social events, links to Facebook event where they can RSVP, and links to social media. Get as creative with it as you want! Include photos of your group/members, polls/surveys, info about other groups/news that they might find interesting, etc. We recommend using free services like MailChimp or Constant Contact that make it easy to design and send your newsletters!
- You can also promote your club and its events to other progressive or like-minded groups (such as other student groups or Democratic clubs) and members of the student government to increase attendance from people you know would be interested.
- Have social/bonding events such as game night (a couple fun ones are Cards Against Humanity and Giant Jena!), laser tag, bowling, ice skating, happy hour at a brewery/pub, holiday parties, bonfires, canvassing for an endorsed candidatewatch parties (Presidential Debates, State of the Union, even political shows like West Wing), etc. You can also combine this with community service and volunteer for events like WeAllCount, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, or a beach cleanup with I Love a Clean San Diego. Or you can volunteer with the Food Bank, the USO, Planned Parenthood, and other groups.
- Try to have food (especially free food!) at your events to draw in more people. College chapters may be eligible for funding through their student government. You can also try having a potluck, which are great for watch parties!
- Try to have recurring meetings at set dates and times so that people can plan their work/class schedules ahead of time to make it to your meetings. High School and College clubs usually do best meeting once a week or every other week, while Young Professionals clubs usually meeting about once or twice a month. You can switch it up and have a regular/business meeting and a social event each month.
- Make sure to include a getting-to-know-each-other/introductions portion at every event, i.e. at the beginning of meetings, having everyone say their names, their major (if in college), and something specific to get to know them (their favorite flavor of ice cream, their dream Presidential ticket, something they did to #resist this week, etc.)
- Examples of what to do at regular/business meetings include: invite local elected officials to talk about the work they and their staff are doing, host candidate forums with endorsement considerations, phonebank for endorsed candidates, debate other campus political groups, conduct News & Views/political discussions, have an education session from party leaders, labor leaders, or representatives from groups like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, environmental groups, etc.
- We also recommend for high school or college chapters that you get involved with your student government, as they often have opportunities to participate politically, whether it’s lobbying elected officials with your statewide student governments, or a committee working on particular issues, such as UConsent at UCSD.
- Have you met someone who seems really interested in being involved with your club? Invite them to join/run for the Executive Board! When you first start, you and board members that you recruit can run the club as a sort of steering committee, and have elections a few months down the road when the club becomes active. It also helps to keep some positions as appointed, which you can use to get new/younger members involved.
- Example positions include President, Vice President, Membership/Outreach Director, Finance Director/Treasurer, Political Director, Communications Director, Operations Director/Secretary. Officers can also be in charge of committees that can recruit from the general membership and increase engagement.
- Some high schools or colleges may require you to have certain positions filled in order to register with their administration, so make sure to include those!
- Some high schools or colleges may also require Teacher/Professor or Community Advisors, but even if they don’t, these advisors can help offer guidance or assistance, so you may want to consider reaching out to see if some teachers or community members you know would be interested!
- Work with your new board members and advisors to establish bylaws that will be the framework for how your club operates. More info can be found here, and an example bylaws can be found here.
- Improve team communications by using apps like Slack, GroupMe, Signal, or WhatsApp.
Have more questions about starting a chapter or interested in starting a new CYD caucus? Check out the CYD website, and feel free to contact us!