Posted by LNC chair candidate George Phillies at http://www.libertyforall.net/?p=3881:
How LAMA has changed since the 2006 State Convention – and all for the better.
In 2006, the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts was in sufficient straits that its regular yearly convention, which should have been called for April, did not occur. The State Committee had not met for three-quarters of a year. Finally, in May the outbound State Chair to his great credit asked Carol McMahon and I to organize and hold the next State Convention, which due to Bylaws constraints could be held no earlier than September.
We held the Convention, an almost entirely new State Committee being elected. Carol and I were re-elected.
There then followed a prolonged period of trying to sort out all sorts of issues. Many of these took quite some time to fix, in some cases much longer than you would think necessary.
There are some useful lessons here. In an all-volunteer organization, sometimes you can replace your procedures. Sometimes you have to replace the people instead. Fixing a group will not happen overnight. However, it can be done. You do need a few things. You need people willing to do work. You need to be fairly vigorous about not listening to the voices who say ‘we can’t’.
Money: In 2006, one could note that there had been no fundraising drives since mid-2002. The State Party was substantially dependent on Unified Membership Plan income, meaning internal fundraising had atrophied and member feedback via the purse largely vanished. UMP money ran out in late 2006. The last monthly donor had stopped giving. Under new leadership, regular fund raising efforts were instituted. You can see that in our FEC reports, which show almost no income in the first half of 2007 and ramp up thereafter. Several unused objects having significant monthly costs and no benefits were terminated.
In January 2009, we had $3150 in the Federal Campaign account; we now have $4950, a 50% increase. When I became Treasurer in October 2008, we had $128 in State Campaign funds; we now have $3450. Our funds on hand have increased 2.5 times. If the national party were doing as well, given the USA has more people than Massachusetts, it would have $360,000 cash on hand. More important, income is consistently increasing. LAMA income rose 50% from 2007 to 2008, and a further 21% from 2008 to 2009. That’s right, our income went up from election year to the next year.
Membership: The new State Committee inherited a large number of people who had via the LNC paid state party dues, but who had never received anything for their money. We gave them all an automatic year forwards membership; that appeared to be the ethical solution. We also had other groups of people who were on the membership rolls, were apparently not Life Members (in some cases, we could ask directly), and who had not paid us anything in years. Disentangling all this in ways that would not lead to anyone claiming we had cheated them took some time.
In addition, membership rules needed to be brought into the 21st century. In 2006 there were no provisions for electronic memberships (newsletter via PDF), family memberships, or donation or renewal via the web. There were no monthly donors. There were no meet up groups. Under the new committee all these things were added; about a third of our members now receive Mass Liberty electronically. We also greatly upgraded our renewal letters.
However, in late 2006, we had a very small number of real members, and a very large number of people with no attachment to the organization whose entirely nominal memberships had to be run out. The process took until Summer 2009, when the last nominal memberships expired and membership bottomed. Since then, LAMA membership has gone up 75%.
Newsletter: In 2006 the newsletter had not come out regularly in years. We immediately resumed monthly publication, first under my editorship and then under the Editorships of David Blau and later Steve Greffenius. There was a major effort to cut costs and improve results. The cost of printing and mailing the newsletter was cut 60%; we also went from black and white to color. With a couple of one-month drop-outs, mailing has continued monthly ever since.
Volunteer contact: In 2006, there was no volunteer contact effort. A program of contacting volunteers was instituted, first with a volunteer newsletter and now with telephone and email messaging. From 2008 to 2010, the number of Libertarian candidates, most running under the “Liberty” banner because of our weird ballot access issues, appears likely to be up substantially.
Web pages: In 2006, the web site had not been updated in a very long time. The former State Committee had not secured ownership of its own URL; the former webmaster, Muni Savyon, refused to turn the URL over to the new State Committee, and he is *still* refusing to do so. We registered alternative URLs, and – thanks to the hard work of first Bill Hees, then Mary-Anne Wolf, Bob Underwood, and soon Joe Kennedy – got a web site up. I was able to recover the old committee minutes and newsletter issues; you can see them on the new, improved web site. Bill Hees even managed to get a forwarder placed from the old LPMA.org address.
Art Torrey attached a forum device. More recently, we installed a SoapBlox object GoldMassGroup.com, which is closing on 600 readers.
Before 2006, when we were in a perpetual downward spiral. Since 2006 when my good friends took over LAMA activities. It took a while to turn the ship around, but we did that, and we are now in a pattern of growth and expansion: Membership up 75% from its bottom. Donations that increased from 2008 to 2009. A regular newsletter. A web page that still has a ways to go, but is far better than it had been. More and more campaigns, some attracting National attention.
George Phillies is a contributing editor for Liberty For All. You can contact Dr. Phillies at email@example.com.