Marc Montoni: Why The Libertarian Party Must Return to a Unified Membership Plan (UMP)

Submitted by Marc Montoni:

The Unified Membership Plan was a construct that the Libertarian Party implemented in the late 1990’s. It was designed to increase the funding available to state affiliates, and to make those state affiliates partners in membership growth for the Libertarian Party as a whole. It was begun in 1995, and ended in 2004.

I am proposing that the Party re-adopt UMP. Some lessons learned from its previous iteration can be adopted to make it work better.

The premise of UMP is fairly simple: The LNC concentrated on membership growth and renewals; while the states concentrated on activity-building.

Here is a basic writeup of UMP (as well as UMP-II) terms.

UMP-II was a modified form of UMP designed to increase the incentive for state affiliates to work harder on donor development; reducing the tendency of national being the main leg of the LP entity trying to get people to donate every year.

For California and many other states, UMP was a great division of labor which helped both the LNC and the state parties grow substantially.

During California’s experience with UMP (1996-2004), the state party ran a record number of candidates and elected a record number of the non-partisan ones, opened up a couple of offices, hired an Executive Director and additional staffing to handle all of the added workload when you have over 6,000 dues paying, card carrying members.

Only the LNC members who voted to abandon the Unified Membership Plan can state their personal reasons, but opponents agitating for abolition used several talking points, and continue to use them in arguing against its reintroduction now. Among them:

1) “It was too expensive.” Kinda. It did cost the LP $12 for every $25 membership, more for the higher-level memberships. As explained elsewhere, the solution to this problem was to raise dues enough to catch up with inflation.

2) “LPHQ can’t send checks to non-FEC filing committees.” True, but there are ways to work within the law regardless, as explained elsewhere.

3) “It’s welfare.” Bah.

… and other statements I’m doubtless forgetting.

Probably the biggie, however, was that the Executive Director at the time (2004) didn’t understand it, didn’t want to understand it, regarded state affiliates as competition rather than partners, didn’t want to have to allocate staff time to mess with it, and saw the trendline he was allowing to happen (declining revenue) and preferred to keep the (declining) revenue in the office, rather than figure out how to improve fundraising.

Interestingly, at the same time the LP was abandoning the shared-dues concept, a very similar program was adopted by the national Democratic Party, under the direction of Howard Dean. They called it their “50-state strategy”, and it was a revenue-sharing program designed to fund organizing projects among their state affiliates. A lot of the grassroots activity among Democrats in 2007-2008 was due in no small part to field organizing work in every state, funded by the national revenue-sharing plan.

None of the reasons to abandon UMP were particularly valid, as there were ways to overcome each deficiency with a relatively simple change in behavior.

I believe it is time to re-examine UMP, and to re-implement it. This article shall explore the idea and address some of the fallacies surrounding the program.

What Would It Take To Implement SOUMP (Son of UMP)

I acknowledge the perfectly valid argument that re-implementing UMP does not require LNC action at all. There is absolutely nothing stopping LPHQ from reintroducing UMP as an add-on to normal dues. All it would take is an alteration to membership forms to add a few lines to offer renewing/new members the option of adding state dues to their donation. We already do this in Virginia:

http://Membership.LPVA.com

Barring action by LPHQ, the LNC can set it up also. But given past history, perhaps UMP would be best adopted via a bylaws amendment. This will eliminate the running of interference by those who think UMP is “welfare”. Admittedly, it may be tough to get a proposal through the Bylaws Committee. Past Bylaws Committees have made into an art form 1) designing changes aimed at helping or hampering various factions; and 2) stuffing the Bylaws Session agenda so full of lard that truly important motions would be impossible to introduce on the floor.

Two separate motions would probably be required. First, one to to bring the $25 dues up to inflation-adjusted reality $40 at least (but better to $45 or $50); and then a separate one establishing a UMP structure.

Getting a dues increase and UMP on the convention floor for a vote is within the LNC’s power. However, with college graduates on the LNC calling UMP welfare, I suspect there will be no action on this.

It is appropriate here to address some of the criticisms of UMP:

“Welfare”

Opponents have often claimed the UMP was “welfare” to state affiliates. It would be best to eschew this sort of trash-talk; for when you claim UMP is welfare, you are inferring that the state party activists who benefit from it, and supporters of the UMP itself, are welfareites. This is insulting and demeaning — and unnecessary.

I suspect the opponents of UMP would not care for the inference that they are thieves for hoarding financial resources at the national level that actually belong to the entire party, or that they would care to be labeled “insane” or “ignorant” for denying the many good things that UMP wrought during its brief existence.

Perhaps the individuals claiming UMP was “welfare” are arguing from ignorance. I don’t know. But Virginia and many other states spent considerable sums of money recruiting UMP members. I know that membership-raisers in Virginia were costing the Virginia LP a couple of thousand dollars, at their peak. I know at one point California sent its entire membership recruiting budget (~$5,000??) to the LNC for purposes of soliciting support from new and renewal donors.

Although LPHQ itself has the records to prove this, I can also actually personally vouch for this. I occasionally helped out at LPHQ in DC during 1997-2003. I distinctly remember processing *huge* batches of memberships the California LP and others had sent us. Often the envelopes I processed had a hundred or more at a time.

Unlike those who keep repeating the mantra that UMP was “welfare”, a lot of state parties helped with signing up members in rather large numbers. California, Michigan, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and a dozen or so other states sent in batches of renewals and new members, monthly or better. California sent them weekly or better for a time.

I know. I was THERE, in the office, opening the envelopes, and processing them.

UMP wasn’t welfare — it was *partnering*.

To the extent that some state parties didn’t really do anything in return for getting thousands of dollars every year from national, perhaps “welfare” was an appropriate term. One or two of the states that failed to get ballot access in 2004 come to mind.

However, it certainly wasn’t welfare for most of the state parties. For example, Virginia, for all of its existence prior to UMP, needed national help on its ballot drive every four years. After we joined UMP, we were able to pay our own way. Virginia has completed all statewide drives since 1998, without any extra help from national. Even this year’s drive was largely paid for with left-over funds built up during the UMP years (yes, we have been THAT frugal). Other states similarly pulled themselves into better performance with UMP funds.

In sum, UMP was not welfare, and those who think it was need to head back to the books.

UMP Still Exists

Second, a limited form of UMP still exists in many states, in that the state parties routinely collect dues for the national party, and forward them along to LPHQ. All the formal “UMP” is was this same model, acting in reverse.

Interestingly, when the Virginia LP (or the many other states that do it) send packages of memberships to national, no college graduates from Indiana or anywhere else call it “welfare” to LPUS.

“We Can’t Do It Any More Because of BCRA”

Opponents claim McCain-Feingold prevents flow between state & national. It’s just that the state LP has to set up a ‘federal’ bank account and become a federal-filing committee. **One** of the primary reasons given to eliminate UMP was because the LNC had been sending checks to non-filing state committees, and the practice had to stop due to McCain-Feingold. In the states that didn’t become filing federal committees, it was usually due to an inability to find a volunteer to keep the books required. In a small affiliate, this can be a deal-killer.

However, there is a way to get to the same ends via different means.

Instead of ending UMP, a better solution would have been for the LNC to establish a “field coordination” committee, dump the UMP money of the non-filing states into it, and use that committee to do party-building projects in the nonfiling states.

Or perhaps set up a regional affiliate. Aggregate the money state parties were due and have one filing regional entity that will handle the reports for each state party that is a member of the regional entity. The cost of paying the contractor who does the reports could be paid from each state’s portion of shared revenue.

Libertarian Party members really need to get out of the thinking-small business. The D’s and R’s spend millions of dollars on consultants who have figured out ways to work within existing laws and still get done what they need to get done. We can do the same or similar things.

“It Was a Bad Deal For National”

Opponents of UMP cite the fact that giving state affiliates $12 of every $25 membership meant the national LP was regularly “sucking wind” on the program.

Once again, this is extremely misleading.

If one cites only the $25 membership revenue, sure, the LNC only netting $13 wasn’t all that hot an idea. However, in the peak years of UMP — 1996 through 2002 — the average contribution per member was about $76. Giving the state parties $12 of that doesn’t sound so insurmountable.

What did hurt national with regard to UMP was the fact that the LNC ignored for two decades its duty to adjust dues for inflation. The $25 dues set in 1990 is about $43 in 2012. Once the LNC did finally get around to doing something about the dues rate, it first increased dues to $50, then lowered them to $0, then after this bit of insanity went public, complete with the concurrent demands for executive sessions and secret votes on the matter, the convention delegates decided to steady the ship and take the decision out of the hands of the LNC entirely. Had the decisionmaking over dues not been so rudderless and surreal, that would not have happened.

Now, we’re stuck.

But not really. The LNC does still have the ability to present the need for increasing dues to the national convention. A series of articles, presenting a balance of opinions on the matter, in LPNews in advance of the convention, will probably have the desired effect of making delegates think on the matter.

That can only be a good thing.

Alternatively…

National could simply use the question as a fundraising excuse (which is what every crisis should be used as). Send a survey to the membership in letter form, asking what they thought the dues should be, make the case in the letter as to why they needed to increase (complete with a scanned graphic of the postal rates we were paying USPS from the Domestic Mail Manual of 1991 vs 2006), and *ask* the members to decide – oh, and to vote their preference with a donation for their chosen dues rate. Then make a recommendation to the convention in the direction the respondents suggest.

If members are treated as adults, they will jump on board when it’s needed.

“Some People Don’t Want Anything To Do With National (state, etc)”

Someone said to me a couple of years ago:

“I know a lot of state LP members consider the national party to be
superfluous and don’t feel the need to pay dues/belong to both. I
don’t have any stats on it, but I imagine there are also national
members (like me) who want little or nothing to do with their state
parties for various reasons. There needs to be a reason why someone
should belong to both, especially if it involves doubling the dues to
do so, or you will have a lot of folks opting to belong to neither.”

I’ve heard variations on this repeated so much that if I had a nickel for each time, I could treat my family to an expensive dinner.

In my direct experience with selling memberships, it is more likely to be an annoyance for a member to be approached first by national, then by the state LP, then by a local LP, for membership dues. **ALL THREE** levels of the LP should be offering one catch-all dues rate. $50 is fine; $75 would be even better.

It all depends on how you approach the issue; or, perhaps, how you “present the sale”.

I’ve been selling memberships in the LP now in a serious way since about 1995. In 1998 I started counting, and to this day I have about 800 memberships collected as a result of some action of mine (as membership chairman for LPVA, putting membership forms in front of people at Richmond LP meetings, going around the crowd with membership forms at the 2000 Browne election-night party and asking people, etc). I’ve used many variations of membership forms, and none of them have a notably different “sale” rate. The one I use now is a “unified membership” form:

http://Membership.LPVA.com

In using that form, *almost all* people who sign up select the $50 national & state rate. Notice on the form that we have an option to make a local donation also.

As mentioned earlier, one way national could offer a “unified membership” plan without any major heartaches is to simply add a “state and local dues option” to membership forms, and make that the most prominent choice (like I do on the LPVA form). Most state LP’s charge $25 or less. National could simply do what I’ve done with the Virginia form, and forward the state dues to the states. Yes, the recipients would have to be FEC filers, but see above.

Local chapter dues could be part of the equation; although state parties would have to manage it so the money stays in a “federal” account.

References:

http://web.archive.org/web/20050828131152/http://www.libertarianwiki.org/wiki/index.php?title=UMP

http://doa.alaska.gov/apoc/Advisory/a09803.html

 

Marc Montoni is currently secretary of the Libertarian Party of Virginia. He is a frequent commenter here, as well as writing some of the articles. You can find his blog here .

141 thoughts on “Marc Montoni: Why The Libertarian Party Must Return to a Unified Membership Plan (UMP)

  1. George Whitfield

    Very well thought-out and written article. I agree that a UMP would be beneficial. I remember Marc from a meeting in Virginia Beach in about 1981 which he attended and I recall he having traveled down from Richmond to be there. I commend his incredible persistence and appreciate all of his efforts to help build the Libertarian Party all of these years since.

  2. Marc Montoni

    Thanks, George! I remember that meeting well. Didn’t we meet at Al Anders’ hot dog restaurant?

    Jim Turbett in his Camaro convertible, Warren Moore (who, sadly, passed away years ago), and one or two other LPVA state committee members all caravanned down to VB together.

    Fun times. Was it really over thirty years ago?

  3. Nicholas Sarwark

    I would support a discounted National membership available for purchase by state affiliates on behalf of their members.

    This was what Maryland did during the UMP years, but that option was discontinued when UMP was.

  4. Andy

    “Marc Montoni // Jul 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Thanks, George! I remember that meeting well. Didn’t we meet at Al Anders’ hot dog restaurant?”

    Al Anders owned a hot dog restaurant? I’ve never heard this one.

  5. zapper

    Agreed. Let’s do it.

    This is the kind of well thought out program the LP needs to get moving into the future. Some kind of combined membership program seems so obvious it’s hard to imagine we are not doing it.

    Since we need to get all of our state affiliates moving, I would suggest finding a national LP volunteer to provide hands on “how to” training to help State LP treasurers do whatever it takes to set up accounts, file reports and meet the stupid regulatory requirements.

    We need some kind of national field coordinator to help build state affiliates in any case. The LP has done this off and on over the years, at least as far back as 1981.

    Many state LP orgs need help with training, doing outreach, recruiting candidates, building their own county level affiliates and growing large enough to become active, effective political organizations.

  6. paulie

    Al Anders owned a hot dog restaurant? I’ve never heard this one.

    I have. Now since you left the phone in the room I have to talk to you this way. If you have faxed what you need to fax and gotten cash out of the ATM we need to get out of here. I’m ready.

  7. paulie

    While I’m waiting for my ride.

    Zapper @ 5 is making the points that I have been making on the LNC discuss (better known as disgust) list. I don’t seem to be gaining much traction with the normally voting committee members though.

    Those of you with time can follow along at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LNCDiscussPublic/ with some lag time (half day to two days usually) between emails to LNC discuss and the public reflector.

    Would also welcome LNC members who would like to engage non-LNC members on this here in IPR comments.

  8. LibertarianGirl

    I liked when we had UMP in Nv. However I remember when money was low we got our UMP in those LP newsletters , not LP News but the handout one that explained what libertarianism was. They were a great handout…anyone remember what they were called?

  9. Michael H. Wilson

    LG that was the Viewpoint. Unfortunately that was a great idea but another one died on the vine in the early 2000’s. I wonder who the Executive Director was in those days? Hmmmm?

  10. Michael H. Wilson

    Marc I generally agree with what you are saying but I’ll take some time this evening to go over the whole piece.

    Zapper @ 5. Yes the LP needs training tools. Every organization I have been part of from the U.S. Coast Guard to the last company I worked for had some form of training. After 40 years the LP has nothing. That is unbelievably poor management.

  11. Thane Eichenauer

    As for regulatory requirements I am happy to see that the author note that it exists but I don’t think enough emphasis is put on the lost opportunity that complying with the regulation entails. FEC filing is a constant, ongoing duty for which the possible cost (for late filing) is substantial. All the energy put in to filing for 50 states could well be the energy necessary to either maintain or increase local participation or could be put in to searching for and launching a number of candidates.
    When it comes to state or national membership I see nothing wrong with unified membership plans if the states in question see an advantage in it.
    The regulatory tax on the Libertarian Party is already high enough, why should we be opting in to one more tax?

  12. Wes Wagner

    In Oregon we have over 13,000 members and do not charge dues… how would grandson of frankenstein… I mean UMP… work in that case?

  13. Be Rational

    @16 It would seem that in states such as OR and CO, the 13,000 would remain voting members of the state LP, but if any of them should join the national LP, the OR LP would receive a share.

    This would encourage the OR & CO LPs to promote national membership among their own members. Sounds OK.

    When I was a state chair we always promoted a combined membership for the state and national LP orgs. Essentially all of our state LP members were also national members, however we always had to resolicit state membership from our national only members. This would have been better.

    Our county organizations – we had a separate county org in every county at the time – all were considered as members automatically by joining the state LP.

  14. Jose C

    We have been here before.

    It wrecked many state parties last time, and it will do so next time, too.

    I was a member of the Executive Committee of California at the time UMP was started. I remember my thought at that time was that UMP was the biggest hoax, farce, con job, and swindle in the history of the California party. Those are still my thoughts today. I hope to never see UMP again.

  15. Michael H. Wilson

    If the LP is going to have dues and if I spend some time working a table somewhere and recruiting people who then send money to national and I or my state/local party does not get any percentage what is the benefit of my working that table?

  16. paulie

    Yes the LP needs training tools. Every organization I have been part of from the U.S. Coast Guard to the last company I worked for had some form of training. After 40 years the LP has nothing.

    http://www.lp.org/campaign-resources

    Several state affiliates have extensive lists of helpful resources and guides. Election laws vary by state. Also, preferred strategies vary. Below are several states with extensive libraries of campaign resources

    http://libertarianmajority.net/tools

    I agree that we need to do a better job of letting people know resources like this are available.

  17. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Paulie, how did you fix the italics? I couldn’t figure it out.

  18. Michael H. Wilson

    Paulie I have seen most of that. It needs to be simplified and printed in the LP News. There also needs to be some simple how to run a meeting, how to use bulk mail, how to compose news releases. etc. pieces. But the key is to print this stuff in the LP News so that new members have access to it and that they have an idea as to what is expected of the local leadership. It also need to be in one place on the national web site. New people should not have to hunt for this.

  19. Michael H. Wilson

    Paulie I am not trying to be a pain in the ass but my point was that the LP does not have most of this. Others do and it is spread around the web. It needs to be on the LP web site, developed as a simple booklet or two and printed in the LP News. Perhaps in your position as an alternate on the LNC you can bring this issue up.
    Thank you,
    MW

  20. Marc Montoni

    @15 Phillies has an axe to grind.

    @16 Wes so far I have not consigned you to the same playpen that I consider people like Phillies and his friends. “Grandson of frankenstein” is unnecessary and not conducive to an intelligent discussion on this subject. Please don’t borrow any pages from the Phillies books. National sharing dues with the state party should have no effect on your state organization except to provide it with additional financial resources. For non-dues state parties, perhaps a two-tiered membership structure could be created. There is nothing stopping the Party from creating graduated-privilege membership levels; and one of those can be whatever the UMP dues amount is agreed to be.

    @17 Castenada as a known Phillies & reform caucus partisan your vapid comment doesn’t surprise me; but I confess I don’t understand the nastiness underlying your opinion. Really:

    I was a member of the Executive Committee of California at the time UMP was started. I remember my thought at that time was that UMP was the biggest hoax, farce, con job, and swindle in the history of the California party. Those are still my thoughts today. I hope to never see UMP again.

    So basically you’re inferring that my suggestion about UMP makes me a fraud, a con man, and a swindler.

    I have a reply to your inference but I’m more polite than you apparently are, so I’m not going to say it.

    My position boils down to this: Every state (including Castenada’s California), if left to its own devices, *never* recruits 100% of the national LP members to also become supporters of the state party. The state affiliates most effective at recruiting dual membership never get more than a quarter or so of national members to support the state party. UMP merely gives states the ability to increase the percentage of state party supporters to 100%.

    I do not understand how sharing revenue with a state party can be described as a fraud or con. It’s just another tool in the toolbox of growing the LP.

  21. Stewart Flood

    Bringing back UMP can work if it is structured correctly, and if state affiliates understand their role and work to build their parties.

    If states just sit on their collective rear end and cash checks, then they will certainly not improve their position.

    This was discussed last term on the LNC. There are ways to make this work.

  22. zapper

    @30 Yes. There are ways to make this work. It can be a net plus for every state LP and the National LP. Those who have been active in trying to build membership and motivate members to do outreach to build membership even more – compounding the growth rate – will recognize its value.

  23. Wes Wagner

    MM@29

    I’ll concede that characterizations are not conducive to productive debate.

    We are just a touch bitter in Oregon for reasons which most people should be able to appreciate. UMP is a sore point as well.

    The checks from national were regularly late and caused cash flow problems for Oregon whereas had we been collecting our own dues at the time the income streams would have been more regular.

    Of course we are no longer a dues-dependent organization, but the issue is still the same. The last time the LP had UMP they were late on payments, broke promises, and ultimately discontinued it in a manner that was not entirely graceful.

    Given the recent ethics expressed by the LNC both last term and current term, I do not believe this idea is ripe for re-exploration.

  24. Steve M

    I presume bringing back UMP is just an excuse to raise dues. It also does not allow for an individual to decide if they want to be a member of their state party or not. So much for freedom not to associate.

  25. paulie

    Steve M – it helps to read the article you are commenting on. Marc addressed that argument in the article.

  26. Marc Montoni

    @ 33 Steve M if it’s NOT time for a dues increase, perhaps you should explain why the LNC, through inaction, should allow dues reduction in the form of inflation.

  27. Wes Wagner

    MM @35

    When the national office spends more than 80% of all collected funds on overhead, you don’t have a revenue problem, you have a spending/investment/priority problem.

    Fix that, create confidence, then raise dues, then the newly collected revenues appear because people have confidence and the money is being spent wisely, thus instilling more confidence.

    You must create a virtuous cycle if you want this idea to work.

  28. NewFederalist

    There should be no dues of any kind. This IS the Libertarian Party after all. All contributions to the party at the national, state or local level should be VOLUNTARY. If the LP does not practice what it preaches then what good is it?

  29. Be Rational

    @37 Paying dues is voluntary. Membership is a voluntary choice with or without dues as a requirement.

  30. Steve M

    Marc, Back before the dues doubling, then zero then end UMP, I would typically give $250 a year as a donation. I am in general opposed to using dues as a requirement for participation in a political party. In my case, doubling the mandatory dues cost the party far more then it gained.

    I am with Wes on this, particular after adding floor fees at the convention. When the LNC demonstrates, clean, transparent and efficient usage of its revenue then I might be more tolerant to increased dues. Until then, I will vote with my pocket book. I don’t attend the conventions so I have no need to pay dues at all.

    Do the math, as you increase the dues you will reduce the number of people willing to pay.

    Radiohead sold over 1.2 million copies of an album where they let the users name their own price, for an average of over $5.

    http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2007/10/radiohead-econo.html

    There many more creative and profitable ways to raise cash then through mandatory dues which by their nature are going to turn off many of the people you would like to get them from.

    Why not…..

    Whats voting rights in the National Conventions worth to you?

    Whats National Party News Letter subscription worth to you? Electronic?, Print?

    Whats the existence of the National Party HQ worth to you?

    Whats a National Ballot access effort worth to you?

    etc, etc.

    Whats the total?

  31. Steve M

    My recommendation, and I tend to be a gradualist. Would be to leave the dues for now at $25 with the intent of reducing them to zero as you let individuals decide what they are willing to pay towards a list of budget items. If the donations and the number of donors increase then start dialing down the dues.

  32. Marc Montoni

    Sigh…

    Steve, we’ve had these discussions about dues before. You promised several years ago to put together a comparison of dues for different political parties, state and national, and I never saw it.

    You continue to speak on this issue, but what you don’t have is hard data.

    Did you miss the parts where I said I’ve recruited over 800 new and renewal members since I started counting them in 1998?

    Did you miss my other posts where I talk about how many projects, ballot drives, candidates, and other activities I’ve raised money for over the past twenty years?

    Did you miss the part where I worked at LPHQ?

    You may *imagine* no dues, or optional dues, or “name your own dues” would generate more of what we need to be a going political concern, but what I haven’t seen from you is *any hard evidence* that your claims reflect reality.

    You are entirely free to set up a local party under your preferred model. See how successful it is, and then let us know — when you have some evidence to share.

    In the meantime, I speak from experience. I know what works. No theorizing can overcome the evidence of “what works” that I’ve seen with my own eyes.

  33. paulie

    We’ve tried zero dues.

    Membership went way down and never really recovered.

    Contributions did not go up, and neither did the number of non dues paying members.

    $50/year basic dues are overdue.

    We do need more targeted fundraising as well.

  34. Michael H. Wilson

    Years ago I was a monthly contributor to the LP. I am no longer a monthly contributor. I don’t contribute because the money is wasted as far as I am concerned and the party has done noting over the last ten or so years to build an infrastructure that would help LP candidates and help those in the local affiliates. As of now I don’t know if I will ever be a contributor again. Whether the LP has dues or not is beside the point when the money spent has no benefit or little benefit to the membership.

    People might start by asking themselves if their state has an ongoing outreach program and fund raising effort.

  35. Steve M

    Marc,

    I am not surprised that you spent time working at HQ. You seem to have a top down mentality.

    800 over 14 years is less then 60 per year. or $1500 per year. It wouldn’t have paid the salary of one staffer for one month.

    Please explain why anyone who doesn’t plan to participate in a convention needs to pay the dues? What are the benefits?

    I claim that raising dues, when the vast majority of the members don’t attend is likely to decrease the paying membership. So go ahead raise them. Lets see the effect.

    I take it you completely ignored the article on Radiohead and their ability to make more on letting their audience decide what the value is. I take it that you completely ignored, my proposal to not change the dues and try alternative methods.

    I will stop here. Because, I am stupendously amazed at the capability of the Libertarian Part to market itself.

    I fail to see the risk in my proposal. It opens the door to members participating by being able to support specific projects.

  36. Steve M

    sorry… so Marc and Pauli, you are both on the record for raising the national dues?

  37. Starchild

    I posted the following to the LNC-discuss list:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I’m sympathetic with the idea of returning to some sort of Unified Membership Plan. Here’s another idea for how that could work:

    (1) All membership money would be collected at the local level (or at the state level in states with no local affiliates)

    (2) Local chapters would pass a portion of their dues along to their respective state affiliates

    (3) State affiliates pass along a portion of the dues money they receive to national

    (4) Local or state parties wishing to have a higher level of the party provide various membership services (renewal mailings, etc.) could pass along a greater portion of their dues in exchange for these services.

    I believe this would be kind of like the traditional parish church model in which moneys collected from parishioners at the local level are sent up the church hierarchy (see e.g. http://stmarksglendale.org/stewardship.html ):

    Doesn’t the diocese help our congregation cover our expenses?

    No. In this country, the church is funded from the bottom up, not the top down. It is the local congregations, through the pledges of its members, who support the work of the Diocese. The Diocese, in turn, sends money to the National Church in support of our larger national and international mission.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So far I have not seen any response. I am interested to hear what people here think about the idea.

    ((( starchild )))
    At-Large Representative, Libertarian National Committee

  38. Starchild

    I am not in favor of raising dues.

    However I am in favor of raising more money, by offering donors the opportunity to choose the projects or expenses to which to contribute, and being more transparent (and therefore trustworthy) about how we spend money as an organization.

    ((( starchild )))
    At-Large Representative, Libertarian National Committee

  39. Starchild

    “New Federalist” @37 – I essentially agree with you, as far as party governance is concerned. I believe the ability to vote within the LP and fully participate in the party should be based strictly on having signed the Non-Aggression Pledge, and perhaps additional affirmations of libertarian belief, never on payment of money.

    However if we have a form of donations called “dues” and call the people who pay dues “members”, and even send them a newsletter or other items in consideration of their donations, I don’t have any problems with that.

    ((( starchild )))
    At-Large Representative, Libertarian National Committee

  40. Starchild

    Clarification @47 – This presumes that we would come up with some worthwhile projects or expenses for donors to choose to make contributions.

    If we did not do so, then clearly failing to raise money would be our own fault.

    ((( starchild )))
    At-Large Representative, Libertarian National Committee

  41. Kevin Knedler

    @ # 5 and others.
    YES, the LP needs training materials and somebody in the field doing the same! And it should be done immediately. During my very short time on the LNC, I brought this up. Two keys to any successful event or group are to be organized and have effective leadership. No offense to fellow state parties, but some are in need of some serious assistance. The Ohio LP has seminars and meetings revolving around leadership and teambuilding.
    Another way to address this is the LSLA. It has the word “Leadership” in its name. Another reason I am glad it was salvaged in 2011. If the LNC can’t do the training and support, then the LSLA should be bolstered and given tools to go out and do the training of state leadership.

  42. Kevin Knedler

    I agree with Paulie about $50 a year. Frankly, the last LNC worked VERY hard getting a new membership level plan put together. It can work with a New UMP also. But alas, the new LNC has delayed the implementation of the new membership plan. We announced the plan and it was approved last year. Come on, this isn’t 1988 any longer and the membership plan had not been updated in many years. In fact, the life membership we presently have was set in the early 1990’s.
    As for the UMP, you could go with the membershp plan, and $25 could be rebated back to the states, IF they meet specific thresholds. I sure as heck don’t want to pay money to states that sit on their hands and don’t want to improve. But the minimum consumer, er member contribution to national would need to be $50 in order for an estimated $25 to go back to a state. This is a no-brainer and can be done.
    State that want help and want to improve should push for this. While I’m at the helm of the Ohio LP I would encourage this to be done. But, not if it is just writing a check to a state that does not perform. One doesn’t keep their day job long if they don’t perform. And I don’t think UMP should be a welfare program either.

  43. Kevin Knedler

    Once again, I tend to agree with # 43. Sad but true. National party needs to keep “LP News” do more training, continue the ballot access fight, but also put people in the field that can help lobby for ballot access laws. Each state is different but some basic things would vastly help a 3rd party in many states. I have had Ohio members ask me “what does the LP national do for us”. It was tough for me to get my arms around that one. I won’t go off the deep end with more comments, but I am very concerned. We have state parties that are in trouble. More money to them may help but may not be the total answer. Leadership, Organization building, Building the bench for future leadership, and building local county affiliates. You have to do this or you will go the route of some dinosaur.

  44. Kevin Knedler

    Furthermore, we need more people in leadership with skill sets of sales, marketing, training, franchise building, etc. I see the results of this first-hand in Ohio LP. We put those people in our state Field Development Division and they also are great as county leaders. At some point, I hope they move up to state leadership so I can retire to a beach with an umbrella drink. And, I can then quit posting to IPR which may make some folks happy.

  45. Pan Handler

    You can’t get hardly anyone to give you $25.

    If you ask for $50, you’ll raise more money.

    Works for me!

    “Will suck for office space”

  46. zapper

    Agreed, it’s time to raise the dues. However, we should actually show a plan to do something with the funds before incresing membership fees.

    $40 for national dues alone seems fair.

    $50 as a combined rate still seems too low.

    As Starchild has mentioned, there probably should be some kind of voting membership level that only requires signing the pledge.

  47. LOL

    Most of my LP friends can’t afford $2.00 a month much less $4.00. That would be like two extra days a month without food and hot water.

  48. Michael H. Wilson

    re zapper @ 55. Before the LP ups the dues maybe people need to think about what the party is supposed to be doing and what the results are.

    For the last 8 to 10 years I have seen not much other than a decline in support for the membership and bickering.

    Add this last LNC meeting in and the future doesn’t look too promising.

  49. Kevin Knedler

    Good God folks. There is a level for people to be a member and not pay. It is simply sign the national pledge. Ohio recognizes that as a National member. Just sign the pledge. No money needed. We have it now. Shouldn’t be any more discussion.

  50. Ted Brown

    In my opinion, the California LP prospered under the UMP and I was not pleased when the plan was cancelled. It’s true that we had 6,000 members under that plan. The reason I was able to recruit a record number of candidates in 2000 is that there were so many people to choose from. Now the California LP has under 1,000 members. I am told that there are quite a few more national LP members who live in California. And I bet they don’t hear much of what’s going on with the state party. Even so, membership is so low, it’s shocking. I know the economy is bad, but has there really been much membership recruiting? There used to be mailings to other lists, like Reason, to seek members and/or contributors. As for the dues, they probably need to go up. They have been at $25.00 for more than 30 years on both the state and national level. At one time, California asked people to set their own dues, and a large number set them at much more than $25.00. We can’t grow without more members and contributors.

  51. Executive Detractor

    Ted, LPHQ mailed to the Reason list a few times over the past few years, and most registered Libertarians. That and others brought in some members, but we always lost significant money on them. You can find more on page 28-33 of this public report:
    http://www.lp.org/files/2011-04-16-LNCMeetingMinutes-Alexandria.pdf
    I think UMP had some positive impact, but I think a big reason LP CA did so much better before is because you, and a fine LPCA chair, and LPCA Executive Director did great jobs. It also helped that the LP had been growing in previous years so morale was high. These days it’s hard to find a happy Libertarian. Even the hard workers in the relatively successful Texas, Ohio and Indiana LPs seem grumpy much of the time these days. Cheers!

  52. paulie

    Before the LP ups the dues maybe people need to think about what the party is supposed to be doing and what the results are.

    Part of what the party should be doing is getting state, local and national all working on the same page, helping each other become more effective. It seems to me that unified membership was doing that, and getting rid of it has hindered it. However, one of the objections has been that if a chunk of national’s money goes to the states there won’t be enough left for national spending (office, staff salaries, ballot access, etc). Thus, it would make sense to bring dues in line with what they would be already if they were indexed for inflation.

    This would be a combined state-national membership only for individuals that want it, and only in those states which qualify AND choose to participate.

    So…if your state wants it but doesn’t qualify….you don’t get to participate even if you want to.

    If your state qualifies but doesn’t want it, ditto.

    If your state qualifies and wants it, it would still be up to you.

    You’d just have the OPTION of one simple, easy, combined state-national payment.

    You’d also still have the option of separate payments or free membership.

    So what’s the problem?

  53. paulie

    Furthermore, we need more people in leadership with skill sets of sales, marketing, training, franchise building, etc.

    Agreed. How do we get more such people?

    I like your IPR comments. We don’t always agree, but that’s what keeps it interesting. If a bunch of clones of me posted here I would have to invent extra personalities to disagree with myself 🙂

  54. paulie

    LP needs training materials and somebody in the field doing the same!

    I’ve been pushing for that but get little or no response to such topics on LNC-discuss.

    It seems the only topics that gain much traction on that list, with few exceptions, are ideological positioning arguments.

    Implementation issues get far less consideration as far as I can tell.

  55. Steve M

    @67, would implementation ideas get more traction if they were presented as projects to the members with guarantees that donations for the project would be spent on the project?

  56. paulie

    I am in favor of raising more money, by offering donors the opportunity to choose the projects or expenses to which to contribute, and being more transparent (and therefore trustworthy) about how we spend money as an organization.

    Me too.

  57. paulie

    Pauli

    Paul, or Paulie. The i and the e are a package deal.

    on the record for raising the national dues?

    I’m in favor of bringing them in line with inflation. Why is that bad?

  58. paulie

    Please explain why anyone who doesn’t plan to participate in a convention needs to pay the dues? What are the benefits?

    Convention is besides the point as it stands, it is budgeted as a self-financing activity. That should change, but as of right now it hasn’t.

    Benefits: national ballot access, giving the party standing as a national party which in turn brings in media, money, candidates, etc.

    National office: media, records/data maintenance, networking with other libertarian organizations.

    There could be more benefits if we had more money.

    So go ahead raise them. Lets see the effect.

    OK. Glad we agree.

    BTW, the last time the membership was substantially higher, it cost more in today’s dollars and there was a UMP in effect.

    I take it you completely ignored the article on Radiohead and their ability to make more on letting their audience decide what the value is. I take it that you completely ignored, my proposal to not change the dues and try alternative methods.

    There’s already a zero dues membership and the ability to donate any amount you want; that’s been the case all along . Zero dues simply got rid of the $25 basic membership at which time about a third of the then dues paying members left and never came back, and there was no increase in free memberships. Very bad idea that failed miserably in practice.

  59. paulie

    would implementation ideas get more traction if they were presented as projects to the members with guarantees that donations for the project would be spent on the project?

    That in itself is an implementation idea, and one I have brought up on the LNC list with little or no response.

  60. paulie

    I have seen most of that. It needs to be simplified and printed in the LP News. There also needs to be some simple how to run a meeting, how to use bulk mail, how to compose news releases. etc. pieces. But the key is to print this stuff in the LP News so that new members have access to it and that they have an idea as to what is expected of the local leadership. It also need to be in one place on the national web site. New people should not have to hunt for this.

    See LNCDisgustPublic. I have been pushing to make training and how to information more widely publicized, repeatedly.

  61. paulie

    my point was that the LP does not have most of this. Others do and it is spread around the web. It needs to be on the LP web site, developed as a simple booklet or two and printed in the LP News. Perhaps in your position as an alternate on the LNC you can bring this issue up.
    Thank you,

    I’ve been bringing it up repeatedly. I know it’s a lot of messages to keep up with but http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LNCDiscussPublic/ is there for your disgust, amazement and amusement whenever you have time to read it.

    As I mentioned earlier it is on the LP website under campaign resources which is under action and has links to the state sites.

    Since it is obvious that many people are not finding it I have been asking to no avail that it be better publicized.

  62. Steve M

    @70, how many other things cost less these days? hard disk drive storage space (in 2000 was $10 per GByte is now under $0.1 per GByte). High speed communication. Remember those 56 kbaud modems. Milk on the other hand….

    So the Libertarian Party is food commodity and not an earth altering technology?

    Raising the dues without an improvement in quality of product or at least an explanation of why the dues will be well used just makes people think… is it worth it to me? So if you raise dues you will have a drop in paying members, the question is will you retain a high enough percentage to make up for the loss?

    This is kind of the point about letting people set their own value for things which are pretty much free or has a low immediate value. Lower dues should make it easier for people to pay something. So leaving the dues at $25 to being a member without voting rights probably wont upset many more then those that would want to attend the conventions and vote. Raising the dues to $50 for those that want to attend the convention will probably be swallowed. But neither of these will raise the Libertarian Party standing enough to matter.

    If the LNC can’t understand that they need to achieve projects that benefit libertarians then the Libertarian Party is a dead end! Paying dues to participate in a Dead End party’s elections is bad product to be marketing.

    What would be a good product? Of course you start with the philosophy, and then you have services such as ballot access (need to pay petitioners, fight legal battles, and above all get voters in the states to register as libertarians) services such as making it easy for Congressional Candidates to be legal with the FEC. Services such as raising funds to fight liberty lawsuits and to lobby congress on behalf of liberty.

    There are actions the party can do and be productive and the are plenty of opportunities to raise funds. But it ain’t on selling voting rights to a party that runs presidential campaigns with lower budgets then any congressional district.

    I like your efforts PAUL (just going to drop that ie) but…. arguing over doubling of dues is dumb.

  63. Steve M

    look….

    #1 you want to elect candidates to office and win proposition votes.

    #2 to do so you need voters to vote with you.

    #3 to get voters to vote with you is more likely if they identify with you. So anything that you do which makes people think yea that is my party is good and anything which makes people think otherwise is bad.

    #4 dues become an impediment to people identifying with the party. They are a barrier that people have to get over likewise so is the pledge. The higher the barrier the fewer people will cross over and…

  64. Michael H. Wilson

    re 73 & 74 I been harping on this issue for about 5 years so far and I’ll keep harping on it until something is done or I die. I am swamped with stuff right now but in one file is an email to the LNC members on this issue. I’ll be polite but it is coming their way. I’ll probably end up nagging even more frequently than I have in the past. Once ever month sounds good to me. I’ll even send a few samples of brochures along.

  65. Michael H. Wilson

    Actually I have always thought the LP should look at religion as a model Getem’ in the door and then ask for money and offer people something they haven’t thought about before.

  66. Andy

    “Ted Brown // Jul 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    In my opinion, the California LP prospered under the UMP and I was not pleased when the plan was cancelled. It’s true that we had 6,000 members under that plan. The reason I was able to recruit a record number of candidates in 2000 is that there were so many people to choose from. Now the California LP has under 1,000 members.”

    Wow, the LP of California really has gone down the drain.

  67. Steve M

    Andy, there are almost 94,000 register libertarians in California its that over 90,000 don’t pay the dues or haven’t signed the pledge. Guys better market penetration gets more cash then raising the cost.

  68. Steve M

    I just checked the year 2000 statistics… there were slightly over 94,000 registered libertarians in California then. So the people who identify with being Libertarian haven’t changed much. If anything has changed it would be those willing to pay dues or sign the pledge has dropped.

  69. Be Rational

    @67 The LNC needs to be divided.

    Seems there needs to be a bylaws change to adjust the operation party management.

    There needs to be a body that runs the activities to manage and grow the party, separate from ideological debate and formulation of positions on issues, party resolutions, press releases, issue papers etc.

    Ideological issues and debates must be moved away from the purview of the LNC. They need to get busy on outreach and party building activities – and nothing else.

    The party must also quit wasting scarce resources on high paid staff. We should use part-time, unpaid volunteers as much as possible, and dedicated Libertarians who are willing to work as full-time “paid” volunteers, receiving very low wages below market level in order to work full-time on a cause for the rest.

    The LP needs to devote a large percentage of its revenues – at least 1/3 for advertising and outreach. This should be first.

    The LP should then spend about 1/3 on ballot access.

    No more than 1/3 should be spent on office, staff salaries, overhead and management.

    As the party grows and more funds become available, the percentage spent on overhead and management should decrease, not increase; The percentage spent on ballot drives should remain flat and then fall as we obtain permanent ballot status in more places; The percentage spent primarily on advertising (and other outreach) should move ever higher – to 50%, 80%, 90% and higher.

    When the LNC is seen as doing something, more individuals will want to join and donate.

    A Unified Membership Plan is a tiny part, but it is needed. It should be set up as Paulie has advised above.

    Paulie has the right idea. This is not worth spending large amounts of time on.

    Follow Paulie on this one.

    Move on to bigger things.

  70. Be Rational

    Follow Paulie and, of course, Marc Montoni on this one.

    Thanks to Marc Montoni for bring this up.

    Marc Montoni has a great record as an LP activist and was, in my experience, very helpful and effective when he was working in the National office.

    Paulie and Marc are two of our best party building leaders today.

  71. Kevin Knedler

    Paulie @ # 66.
    Not sure if the structure of the LNC will allow for development. It can be done at the state level and already is in some state affiliates. But, if I was national chair (oh don’t worry) I would make it one of the top priorities. Get a team out there to develop state and local leaders. NO operation can continue if you do not develop the bench or farm team. I think all of age and move on one way or the other. Except Barnabas Collins. LOL

  72. Shane

    First, I have a great deal of respect for Marc. He’s one of the hardest working and consistent activists in the LP for work that is painstaking.

    I was the ED during the phaseout of UMP although the gears were turning for the elimination of UMP when I took the helm.

    Keep in mind that the when the last UMP payments were made, the LNC voted to go to “Zero Dues” immediately killing its ONLY marketing program.

    We were not prepared for it and suffered greatly.

    The termination of UMP and the implementation of Zero Dues was a plan that was not explained to me and honestly I still don’t get it. I think the intent was to change the entire marketing program (which I support) but they started with “Phase 1” but never got around to figuring out what “Phase 2” was.

    UMP as a concept, supporting the states, is a good one. The execution through bureaucratic means was a poor one.

    While there were several states that took advantage of UMP in the best way they knew how, most did not. Many states didn’t even exist as entities leading to $20k in uncashed checks over the years!

    Call me ignorant for saying so but UMP as it existed was welfare to the states.

    With that said, LPUS did nothing to support the states aside from data sharing. My level of frustration with the ineffectiveness of the national party was just as high as Marc’s. My mandate was to keep the party out of bankruptcy at the time by building a sustainable fundraising program — we pulled that off, got out of debt and built up a reserve before I left.

    But what was the point?

    The LP will continue to decline without a unified marketing program which would work for all parties.

    Writing checks to state parties is not the answer.

    Teaching them “how to fish” with marketing education really isn’t the answer either as turnover is too high across the board.

    The LPUS should be funding prospecting campaigns for donors (not members) in coordination with the states that reduce the costs to all and lead to stronger packages based on local and national issues. This can be be done most effectively online but will take investment by LPUS and collaborative manpower support by the states.

    The issues are on our side, the universe exists to grow the party at a rapid pace, but few people know how to get it done.

    Marc, if you and Chuck (or anyone else) want to stop by my office in Fredericksburg I’d be happy to volunteer some time and go over some concepts with you that you can execute.

  73. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    That reminds me, Chuck Moulton is chasing giraffes and lions on a safari right now. Lucky guy!
    That’s something in my bucket list that will most likely never happen.

  74. Sane LP member

    Somebody needs to talk to Shane and see what it would take in $$$ to get him to come back to ED position. More of the same isn’t working with LNC. Forget where he fits on some philosphical libertarian scale! We need professionals with management, sales, marketing, and organization experience. Activism will take you so far and is more effective at local levels. The LP is going to a gun fight with a knife . . . and with less people.

  75. SOL

    What do you have against Carla’s work as ED? Membership is finally picking up BTW, the numbers haven’t come out yet but new facebook is working out well and getting people to actually become party members.

  76. George Phillies

    @90 “membership is finally picking up”

    The membership numbers through to the end of the last month show a contrary direction, though there are rumors that the Facebook page is getting us better results.

  77. Michael H. Wilson

    A question if I may.

    Why is it welfare when the flow of money is from the top down but not welfare when the flow is from the bottom up?

  78. Marc Montoni

    @ Steve M,

    I am not surprised that you spent time working at HQ. You seem to have a top down mentality.

    So I guess for the logic-challenged, if I spend 3 years out of 30 years of activism in the national ofice, that makes my whole schtick indicative of a “top-down mentality”.

    Yeah, I get it.

    800 over 14 years is less then 60 per year. or $1500 per year. It wouldn?t have paid the salary of one staffer for one month.

    You missed the point.

    I claim that raising dues, when the vast majority of the members don?t attend is likely to decrease the paying membership. So go ahead raise them. Lets see the effect.

    Well unlike you perhaps, I was “there” when dues were raised last time. In fact I’ve reviewed LP membership level history before on this site. LP national dues were $15 in 1988. They were increased to $25 in 1990, and that increase did not have any measurable effect on membership levels. No one “burned their membership card” in protest.

    Other factors large and small played a significant role, however — as the article linked above describes.

    I take it you completely ignored the article on Radiohead and their ability to make more on letting their audience decide what the value is. I take it that you completely ignored, my proposal to not change the dues and try alternative methods.

    What am I supposed to do? Slap my forehead, and as if flicking a switch say “My gosh, Steve, you’rw a genius and you’re right — let me abandon all the foolish ideas I built up with years of experience and immediately adopt your brilliant new paradigm?”

    Does the fact that I disagree with your idea’s efficacy (not to mention practicality) mean that I ignored it? No, it doesn’t. I didn’t ignore anything. I do, however, disagree with your conclusion.

    I will stop here. Because, I am stupendously amazed at the capability of the Libertarian Part to market itself.

    Yeah, me too. The only thing Libertarians won’t do is roll up their sleeves and work. They’ll spend hours and hours remaking the LP into their own version of perfection (a la various reformers who so grace us with their presence) or pontificating about how stupid others in the LP are to work in the only ways that have been proven to work, but they won’t show up on the day when they’re supposed to organize their own damn precinct.

    I fail to see the risk in my proposal. It opens the door to members participating by being able to support specific projects.

    Well, there’s your mistake. You fail to see the risk. I do see the risk. I see enough risk I want to see YOU **prove** your model at your own local level first.

  79. Marc Montoni

    @ Shane:

    First, I have a great deal of respect for Marc. He’s one of the hardest working and consistent activists in the LP for work that is painstaking.

    Thank you.

    Writing checks to state parties is not the answer.

    A look at the wiki article about UMP-II I mentioned above might be of interest, as it was an intent to incentivize more activity by the states.

    The LPUS should be funding prospecting campaigns for donors (not members)

    I agree we should be doing a lot more prospecting. Unfortunately, outreach of most kinds costs a lot of money (we’ve all heard corporate managers say something along the lines of “it’s a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to find a new one”), and we have our little cheering section of Libercops who will disparage any such expense. Phillies has made that sort of negative campaigning his m.o., for example.

    I think part of the difficulty we have is that we call people “members” who would simply be called “donors” in the major parties. Their “donor benefits” look an awful lot like our “member benefits”. Slide the major parties a dollar or two a year and you’ll get an avalanche of mail — generated by their NATIONAL database no matter if the material came from the federal, state, or local party. All instructive to the budding campaign consultant.

    The issues are on our side, the universe exists to grow the party at a rapid pace, but few people know how to get it done.

    I agree.

    Marc, if you and Chuck (or anyone else) want to stop by my office in Fredericksburg I’d be happy to volunteer some time and go over some concepts with you that you can execute.

    Thank you for the invite, Shane, and after Chuck gets back, I will see about putting that on our list of things to do.

    To the other readers of this blog who know me, you are probably aware I have been at loggerheads with Shane on more than one occasion. I had a number of disparaging words to say about his actions against Ms Ruwart while he was national director (among other things). However, he and I generally agree to disagree on those areas, and otherwise have congenial discussions in areas where we agree. Party-building happens to be one of them. Shane and I spoke about some of that at one of the sessions at the national convention this past May, and I look forward to speaking with him further about his ideas in that respect.

  80. Marc Montoni

    @ Michael Wilson:

    Why is it welfare when the flow of money is from the top down but not welfare when the flow is from the bottom up?

    Michael, you were referring to the church model Starchild keeps bringing up. I don’t expect you’ll get an answer, because no one has explained their double standard in that regard the way I phrased it, either:

    Interestingly, when the Virginia LP (or the many other states that do it) send packages of memberships to national, no college graduates from Indiana or anywhere else call it “welfare” to LPUS.

  81. Michael H. Wilson

    We plan on mailing a fund raising letter in a few weeks and figure the costs to be about 30 cents or less for each letter.It’ll be interesting to see the results.

  82. Michael H. Wilson

    Marc I find the church model interesting but I was actually thinking more about the words people use to disparage the UMP model as Shane does above. The word welfare has a negative connotation to almost everyone in the libertarian movement. As a result calling the UMP program welfare cast it in that negative light.

  83. Marc Montoni

    We agree, Michael.

    I might have to spike Shane’s coffee with some laughing gas when Chuck and I meet him, as revenge for the ‘welfare’ comments.

  84. Marc Montoni

    I know… I couldn’t think of a liquid I could spike coffee with that wouldn’t be illegal or injurious — so stuck in something that was clearly ludicrous.

  85. Starchild

    Kevin @59 – I certainly agree with you that people who sign the Non-Aggression Pledge should be able to fully participate in the Libertarian Party at the local, state and national levels without paying dues, but I’m not sure that this is true in all cases. Are you saying that it is?

  86. Starchild

    Paulie @73-74 – As long as training or other materials are positively reinforcing and not negatively reinforcing the LP, I’m all for making them more available.

    During my time in the LP however, I’ve seen a lot of training sessions and materials that implicitly or even explicitly downplayed libertarianism and emphasized a “pragmatic” (watered-down or de-radicalized) approach that does us no favors. We need to make sure that the training wheels we’re making available are round and not square.

    I haven’t had time to look at the bucket list of links and materials that you posted to the LNC list (and here @24). Have you reviewed these materials and thought about what effect they might have vis-a-vis the Five Key Values?

  87. Starchild

    Jill @86 – I know, chasing gaffes and liars on IPR and elsewhere doesn’t always hold the same excitement. 🙂

    Be that as it may, your activism is valuable and appreciated!

  88. Max Budem Lupit

    Have you reviewed these materials and thought about what effect they might have vis-a-vis the Five Key Values?

    Orthagonal.

  89. Starchild

    Max, how do you feel that is so? Please explain. If it is our value to have a radical Libertarian Party, and our training materials are undermining our radicalism, that seems quite important and relevant to me.

  90. Max Budem Lupit

    Starchild, how does something like this

    http://www.growthelp.org/lte.htm

    Undermine radicalism?

    I encourage you to read through those links yourself.

    If you find something that goes against your key values, think about whether it can be improved to better reflect them.

    We are talking here about tips on things like writing letters to the editor and press releases that actually get published and the like.

    That is useful information regardless of your issue positioning, and that’s what we are talking about making more available (or better publicized – it’s already been available, just that the people that need this info all too often don’t know it exists).

  91. From Der Sidelines

    @101: Use Methylene Blue. Harmless, and it makes him piss blue urine.

  92. Be Rational

    Marc, Paulie, Starchild, Joe Buchman …

    there is a leadership team developing here …

  93. Steve M

    @94 Marc, Maybe you better explain my “model” and how I would suggest implementing it in your own words. Because I don’t think you know what I am talking about. And I don’t think you have any ear for anything other then your idea.

    My how you like to toss insults around calling busy people lazy or people who think the ump was welfare ignorant. but when someone else calls the UMP a Frankenstein you get bent out of shape. I saw a couple of other examples, such as your opinions on George Phillies..

    If this is how you treated significant donors to the party while you were at the LNC its probably a good thing you have moved on.

  94. Be Rational

    @112 Steve M,

    I suggest that you review your own comments before you complain of insults by Marc Montoni.

    Perhaps both of you should agree to be a bit more respectful and kind while in disagreement.

    Your comments regarding the need for the LNC to actually do something and show that it is worthy of financial support is absolutely dead on. I’m hopeful that there are enough new members of the LNC and some leaders presenting their case here on IPR, that we see some movement in a positive direction that we can all support.

    However, you are wrong about the dues.

    There are many ways to “market” the National LP to bring in funds to operate. True, it’s possible to operate and fundraise without anything called “dues” per se and we could use other words to name the thing.

    However, we need some way of encouraging a basic level of support that donors or members will be able to contribute and become part of the team. This is a level of support that has to make sense operationally – that is, it has to actually be high enough to justify the services provided at that level of support to the donor/member and contribute to the ongoing operation of the party – and it has to be resonable to the member/donor – that is, it can’t be so high that we drive too many away, nor so low as to appear stupidly low to the donor himself as being obviously a money losing operation based on dues levels.

    Whatever we call it – and I have no problem with the term “member” – we should have a reasonable basic donor level or dues level. It seems that $40 or $50 in today’s price environment would be about right.

    A shared membership program is a marketing program to be considered second. It is essentially a commission to the State parties that choose to participate to encourge them in obtaining more national members and in maximizing the growth and success of the party. Since the commission is paid to another LP entity and can then be used for outreach and other party building by that state party group it is a win/win for all.

    A Unified Membership Plan is an obvious win for all who choose to participate. The LNC needs to get on with this.

    Raise the dues: Personally, I like $4o for the new amount.

    Install a new commission plan for state LPs that wish to participate: call it UMP if you like.

    Get busy on advertising and outreach to build and grow the party.

  95. Steve M

    @113 Be rational, Where in this discourse have I been dis-respectful (other then my lack of amazement at the party’s marketing of itself)? I just reviewed my comments and I don’t see anything else. Please be more specific.

    I stand by my comment that Marc appears to have a top down mentality in that dues should be collected and used at the discretion of the top of the organization rather then the top should propose projects and the donors should specifically decide to fund them or not. Whats funny is that the libertarian philosophy with respect to charity, foreign aid etc is about individuals deciding what is appropriate where as the Libertarian Party thinks it should be controlling the usage of the dues with little input from its members.

    I already said…. go right ahead raise the dues. I just think it will cause the party more grief then it will generate revenue. If I am wrong so be it.

    Please review comments 39 and 40. I argue that dues should only be reduced as revenue from project oriented donations is added.

    Marc, in his last comment suggested I find a laboratory to conduct an experiment in a different format. I would suggest the same to him. Before you implement an across the board change in the relationship between state parties and the national party how about trying it one or two?

    Marc, also made a claim about a previous dues increase from $15 to $25 and claimed it had no impact on membership. I would like to see the data.

    The unified membership plan is NOT an obvious win. It was already discussed that the money the state party’s receives from the national party is restricted in how it can be used and thus could become a management burden to the state party.

    It could be a lot better for the state party to separately raise their cash. This could also vary from state party to state party.

    Further it is a commission if the state party was the one that convinced an individual to join. Otherwise it is just a sharing of the wealth from the national to the state and therefor could be construed as a form of welfare.

  96. Ad Hoc

    Steve M.

    Every single point you just made has already been addressed above.

    Do you think you will gain additional influence through repetition?

  97. Steve M

    It seems we are discussing 3 separate ideas here.

    1) increasing the dues for being a member (presumably a member in good standing who thus can attend national conventions and serve on the LNC as an officer)

    2) re-instituting the UMP. Here I would suggest you get a 3rd party to actually collect and distribute the funds. This might get you around two of the issues. a) the LNC track record of not paying the states in a timely fashion and b) the states being restricted in how they can use the funds. c) the individual might also be given a choice in if they want to pay dues to ether or both the state party or the national party.

    3) whether there is a better model (more suited for the individualist who wants to know how their funds are being used) for setting the budget and getting projects accomplished.

  98. Ad Hoc

    a member in good standing who thus can attend national conventions

    As far as I know, anyone that any state selects as a delegate can attend a national convention.

    It’s true that the last convention charged a floor fee, but all the ones before that did not.

    And yes, you have to be a party member to be on the LNC. But then again being on the LNC costs thousands of dollars a year in travel costs, and for those not living on a fixed income or salary, additional thousands of dollars in opportunity costs from missing work time.

  99. Ad Hoc

    at least I am not one individual using several names.

    That and five bucks gets you a venti latte with an extra espresso shot.

  100. Marc Montoni

    @113 Be rational, Where in this discourse have I been dis-respectful (other then my lack of amazement at the party?s marketing of itself)? I just reviewed my comments and I don?t see anything else. Please be more specific.

    It might be better if you would actually listen and actually attempt to comprehend what was said before you opine. Let’s try this one more time: Again in your comment #115 you referred to UMP as welfare. I anticipated this in the original article, and here is what I said about that phrase:

    “Opponents have often claimed the UMP was ?welfare? to state affiliates. It would be best to eschew this sort of trash-talk; for when you claim UMP is welfare, you are inferring that the state party activists who benefit from it, and supporters of the UMP itself, are welfareites. This is insulting and demeaning ? and unnecessary.”

    You have indeed been disrespectful. If you don’t understand the inferences of your own words, maybe you shouldn’t utter them.

    I stand by my comment that Marc appears to have a top down mentality in that dues should be collected and used at the discretion of the top of the organization rather then the top should propose projects and the donors should specifically decide to fund them or not.

    You can’t stand by that comment because that was not what you said. What you actually said was:

    I am not surprised that you spent time working at HQ. You seem to have a top down mentality.

    If you’re now standing by your new comment about my alleged “top down mentality”, then you’re simply wrong. Let’s go over your new statement:

    “[Marc Montoni, the top-down mentality guy, thinks]… dues should be collected and used at the discretion of the top of the organization rather then the top should propose projects and the donors should specifically decide to fund them or not.”

    First of all, thanks for putting words in my mouth. Second, I never connected the two — YOU did. **I** think dues can be shared and at the same time donors can be given every opportunity to choose what projects to fund. There are some expenses I consider core functions:

    – Basic overhead — newsletter, phones, office, media coordinator, data entry, etc — IOW back-office functions
    – national convention – note I am opposed to any floor fees
    – Ballot access

    Everything else is a secondary function and can be mostly funded with project fundraising. Have I mentioned that I wrote a bunch of project fundraisers for Virginia during the UMP period?

    I already said?. go right ahead raise the dues. I just think it will cause the party more grief then it will generate revenue. If I am wrong so be it.

    Excellent. Glad to have your support.

    Please review comments 39 and 40. I argue that dues should only be reduced as revenue from project oriented donations is added.

    Well, we’ve **been** reducing dues steadily due to the LNC’s failure to index for inflation. Has project fundraising been getting better? Nope. Fundraising is off by something like 3/4 since 2000 or so. And that’s not even adjusting for inflation.

    Marc, in his last comment suggested I find a laboratory to conduct an experiment in a different format. I would suggest the same to him. Before you implement an across the board change in the relationship between state parties and the national party how about trying it one or two?

    Unlike what you want to move towards as a funding structure, UMP actually was tried, and it did work. Certainly, it wasn’t perfect — which was why an attempt was made to improve it with UMP-II (which I doubt you even read over — but see the link above). It worked in Virginia — the UMP years were the ones where we were able to self-fund our own expensive ballot drive, got several lobbied changes through the legislature, raised more of our own money independently of UMP or membership dues than at any other time in our history, and more. Many other states had very similar experiences.

    You can deny all you want, but UMP **has** been tested, and it worked.

    Marc, also made a claim about a previous dues increase from $15 to $25 and claimed it had no impact on membership. I would like to see the data.

    So now I’m supposed to do your research for you, too? If you had clicked on the link I provided WITH that claim, you would have been taken to a comment on IPR where I provided numbers. I cited sources where one can get the original statistics that I based those statements upon. Here, let’s try that again, too:

    “They were increased to $25 in 1990, and that increase did not have any measurable effect on membership levels.”

    OK, I guess it’s hard to do original research. So here’s a freebie.

    The unified membership plan is NOT an obvious win. It was already discussed that the money the state party?s receives from the national party is restricted in how it can be used and thus could become a management burden to the state party.

    It could be a lot better for the state party to separately raise their cash. This could also vary from state party to state party.

    Are you going to keep repeating that unsupported canard? *Most* of the state parties **did** raise separate cash, even with UMP. Virginia did. California did. A whole bunch of them did. If you’re going to claim that they all sat on their fat asses, I suggest you dig up the financial reports from a few states during the UMP period and prove they raised nothing on their own. Better yet, why don’t you call a few of the state affiliate leaders of that period, say “hey, what were you doing sitting on your fat ass waiting for your monthly UMP welfare check?” I can’t wait to hear what they say in response.

    The Virginia LP used to process credit card payments for three or four state parties. One of them was Hawaii. If you look on page 3 of their newsletter from 2001, you will see their credit card form where they describe that the Virginia LP would process the payment for them via our system. We made a small commission on each payment and distributed their monies quarterly. At the peak of this activity, we were processing several hundred dollars a month for the state parties we serviced.

    Oh, and it was during UMP.

    Do you *still* want to claim the state parties and their activists were sitting on their butts like proper welfareites?

    I have made a habit of saving fundraising packages from Libertarian organizations. I have a fairly complete file of national & Virginia LP fundraising letters. I also have a large batch of fundraisers from other state parties who were on our newsletter exchange list, as well as major LP candidates nationwide.

    I’d be happy to show you the file next time you find yourself in Harrisonburg VA.

    I doubt your claim that state parties all sat on their asses because I have evidence to the contrary in my file cabinet.

    If you don’t want to see my collection, the national office usually received a lot more “FYI” copies of newsletters and state party fundraisers than I did. HQ once filed these by state and then placed the files annually in the permanent archive in their storage room. I don’t know if they still do that, but if so, if you really wanted to do some research about your claims, that would be a great place to start.

    Further it is a commission if the state party was the one that convinced an individual to join. Otherwise it is just a sharing of the wealth from the national to the state and therefor could be construed as a form of welfare.

    Sigh.

    I think I’ve collected my last national membership. I will take it off the form I’ve been using and just sell Virginia memberships. I wouldn’t want to be accused of giving “welfare” to the national party.

  101. Steve M

    I stand by my comment that Marc appears to have a top down mentality in that dues should be collected and used at the discretion of the top of the organization rather then the top should propose projects and the donors should specifically decide to fund them or not.

    You can?t stand by that comment because that was not what you said. What you actually said was:

    I am not surprised that you spent time working at HQ. You seem to have a top down mentality.

    I will stand by both of those statements and disagree that they are disrespectful. They are a statement about how I perceive your attitude about control of the party.

    ?Opponents have often claimed the UMP was ?welfare? to state affiliates. It would be best to eschew this sort of trash-talk; for when you claim UMP is welfare, you are inferring that the state party activists who benefit from it, and supporters of the UMP itself, are welfareites. This is insulting and demeaning ? and unnecessary.?

    You again did not read what I wrote. I said that if the state doesn’t help in the recruitment a payment would constitute welfare and not a commission. The difference being if the state does the work it is a commission if the state didn’t do the work then it is welfare or a subsidy or a gift. But it isn’t payment for work done.

    “Do you *still* want to claim the state parties and their activists were sitting on their butts like proper welfareites?”

    This is dishonest. I never made that claim.

    “I doubt your claim that state parties all sat on their asses because I have evidence to the contrary in my file cabinet.”

    This is dishonest. I never made that claim.

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2009/09/aaron-starr-historical-comparison-of-libertarian-presidential-candidates-share-of-eligible-vote/#comment-109029

    Is unrelated to the question did raising the dues from $15 to $25 have an impact on membership. Your article, written by Aaron Starr talks about votes received and voting population not about membership in the Libertarian Party.

    For the free be… you made the claim. But you don’t have the data to back it up!

    ” If you?re going to claim that they all sat on their fat asses,” more trash talk. dishonest and not my claim.

  102. Steve M

    Marc,

    Webster says…

    Aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need.

    Your intentional misconstruing of my stating that “payments made where no work” is the same as saying “no work was done for any of the payments”. I emphatically claim, that you are doing this to inflame the conversation, knowing it has no bearing on my view point. This is dishonest on your part!

  103. Marc Montoni

    Is unrelated to the question did raising the dues from $15 to $25 have an impact on membership. Your article, written by Aaron Starr talks about votes received and voting population not about membership in the Libertarian Party.

    Jeez, can you actually read the link?

    I didn’t link to the *article*, I linked to my own *COMMENT* in that article — in which I speak directly about membership levels at different periods, including one period where there was a dues increase in between.

    I should have expected this. Every reform caucus member I’ve read does the same sort of misreading of everything they speak about. I’m not sure if its intentional or not.

  104. paulie

    Marc,

    At this point, you continuing to explain what you have already explained is in itself welfare (or lastworditis – I have the worst case of it I know of, but I recognize it in others).

    It’s clear that you and I (but especially you) have responded to the arguments that are at this point being made, and what we are experiencing now is circular arguments and repetition.

    Unless something new is offered, what is the point of rehashing?

  105. paulie

    If someone refuses to follow your link that directly answers their question …twice….I don’t think you’ll be able to spoon feed it to them.

  106. Steve M

    Pauli (e), I didn’t refuse, I got confused trying to figure out where I was. Thanks Marc I see the data for member ship every 4 years. A nice start would be better to see the monthly reports or at least yearly. But I suspect that there would still be too many variables to tell much.

  107. George Phillies

    Many members, in my experience as the Massachusetts Treasurer, make one donation beyond dues a year, at the time they renew. If the state party is not doing its own renewal effort, which we did while I was Treasurer, it is not reaching out to its membership to say what it was doing. Also, all those donations will now go to national, substantially reducing the state party income.

    Massachusetts has several different dues rates for people who take the newsletter electronically, who take the newsletter in paper form, and who reside with a current party member. Electronic newsletters were about 40% of the total membership; the number of family memberships was quite small. UMP would make this recruitment approach difficult to manage. On the other hand, our state membership was split fairly evenly between people who belong to the national party and people who do not.

  108. Mark Hilgenberg

    @ P. Funk

    Yes, that is a little better. Because Thomas is promoting liberty while Rider has always been promoting conservative versions of liberty.

    Say hello to Bootsy for me.

  109. Mark Hilgenberg

    “Are you going to keep repeating that unsupported canard? *Most* of the state parties **did** raise separate cash, even with UMP. Virginia did. California did.”

    Even local affiliates raised money. When I was the Vice Chair of the Orange County CA party, we raised lots of money for all kinds of activities, including mailings to all registered voters in our county, building and staffing a three week, 16 hours a day county fair booth and tons of other outreach and events.

    The UMP money was good seed money for us, we turned hundreds into thousands.

    Maybe UMP money could be conditional; it could become matching funds up to a certain point. If an affiliate is dormant, they may not receive UMP funds and it could go to the affiliates who are using the funds to raise more funds.

  110. Be Rational

    We should establish a simple dues structure for basic members, set up a program for combined memberships for states that want to participate and move on.

    When I was a state chair, our basic membership dues only provided 10% of our revenues. We had continuous fundraising that brought in 90% through fair booth donations, speaking events, conventions, picnics, raffles, dedicated fundraising for special projects … at the time we were the fastest growing state party. We organized a stand alone organization in every county and several local groups within each county. There were no dues at all for county and local groups as the state, county and local groups coordinated and worked together. We always promoted combined memberships with national as our part in building a strong LP at all levels. Nearly every member was a combined member – we had few who were members of only the state or national level.

    We should all be working together to build a bigger LP where every level has more members, more outreach and growth, more success and motivated donors who will donate more. Larger average donations and more donors is the formula for growth.

  111. Steve M

    just looking at the treasurers report

    http://hq.lp.org/pipermail/lnc-business_hq.lp.org/attachments/20120714/ec05f7eb/attachment-0001.pdf

    total revenue a touch over 1.6 million. With about 13700 members. So the members are paying $340k in dues and the rest is coming in donations. Say just under 1.3 Million. This implies that the average donation per member including dues is $118. How do you know this isn’t a zero sum game where if you raise the dues by an additional $25 the members won’t just cut back on their donation and still just be giving the $118? And you do this at the risk of alienating some of them?

    $118.68

  112. Starchild

    Max @108 – I don’t see anything ipso facto objectionable in Richard Rider’s pointers on writing letters to the editor. They are not condescending in tone, and do not explicitly or implicitly discourage people writing letters with radical libertarian views or downgrade the importance of libertarianism. If all LP training materials were of this caliber, there would be much less cause for concern.

    One inherent but subtle danger of even well-done training materials, however, is that by their very nature they tend to emphasize the importance of technical proficiency at something, which if not carefully balanced, has the effect of de-emphasizing or downgrading by comparison the importance of ideology.

    Technical proficiency in various aspects of politics, activism, campaigning, and so on is desirable — but only to the extent it is being used toward libertarian ends, and not undermining them! A well-made gun in the hands of a freedom lover is a good thing, but in the hands of a soldier following the orders of a tyrannical regime it is not. If an individual loves the technical capabilities of his weapons and his proficiency with them too much, relative to his love for freedom, he may take an immoral job working for a tyrannical government just to have the opportunity to be well-compensated and bask in the glow of being recognized as a “skilled professional”!

    So it is with political skills. Some political experts may become too clever, too well-versed in playing the political game set up for us by the establishment’s rules, for the good of the movement, unless we are careful to keep the technocratic impulse in check. If a pro-freedom organization starts to value the skills of its experts — or worse, the skills of outside experts who don’t even share our values — more than it values the strongly libertarian beliefs of its core supporters, it is in trouble!

    An organizational culture of that sort only encourages the “expert” to start to look down his nose at the “unwashed libertarian masses” who have only their simple beliefs in freedom, and lack his knowledge of how to get specific things done under the specific conditions of the political status quo in which he has honed his expertise. It encourages the “expert” to think of his expertise as more important than his belief in freedom.

    This is the hidden danger of too much emphasis on candidate training materials and the like.

    We can ameliorate this danger, although probably not eliminate it entirely, by weaving the primary importance of having strongly libertarian views into our training materials, and always emphasizing how useless or even counter-productive the skills being taught are to our movement unless put to use in service of a strongly libertarian agenda.

    And, of course, we should always reject “training” that teaches candidates or others to put “winning” or “success” (as defined by conventional, non-libertarian wisdom) ahead of correct values!

  113. Shane

    @135 There’s a reason why large membership organizations have flexible dues structures. DNC, RNC, NRA, etc.

    You allow the donor to choose their gift amount based upon their giving level and your marketing techniques. It’s the responsibility of the organization to increase the average gift amount with a solid technique and value proposition.

    Arbitrarily doubling dues to support a sophisticated top-down, wealth transfer scheme probably won’t float well in the eyes of a donor — but hey, that’s what testing is for.

  114. Chuck Moulton

    Shane wrote (@85):

    Marc, if you and Chuck (or anyone else) want to stop by my office in Fredericksburg I’d be happy to volunteer some time and go over some concepts with you that you can execute.

    I’m back in Virginia and available to talk with Shane and Marc about this any time.

  115. Pingback: UMP Revived – LNC Region 1

  116. Mark Hilgenberg

    All I know is with the few dollars the LPOC received we were able to try different forms of outreach and events, things which would have never been approved from the top down.

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