One of the toughest aspects of running an Amnesty International chapter and working on these issues is keeping members engaged. A lot of people will just show up to one event, or to one or two meetings, and you’ll never hear from them again. So, how do keep people coming back to your events and keep them involved in the human rights activism? Here are four effective ways to engage your Amnesty members:
Highlight the Results of Your Work
One reason why people don’t stick around with Amnesty International is that they lose faith in the possibility that what we do actually makes a difference. Writing letters doesn’t work, they’ll say. Politicians don’t listen, they’ll argue. No one looks at these petitions, they’ll believe. The best way to counter these myths is to show them that writing those letters and that lobbying our representatives actually go something done.
Whether it’s through blogging, an email update, or through face-to-face conversations, don’t be afraid to say that your letter writing helped in getting those political prisoners released in Burma. Make it clear that if it wasn’t for the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures you helped gather, that the Troy Davis case wouldn’t have gotten the attention it received. Successes are not overnight in human rights, but that doesn’t mean that successes are impossible.
Allow for Passive Engagement
People also stop attending events and meetings because they simply don’t have the time to attend, or they have something else that conflicts. These people are probably still interested in the issues, and want to be able to do something here and there. To keep these people involved, allow for passive engagement opportunities such as a blog, social media profiles, or a monthly newsletter. This gives these people a chance to stay up-to-date with the issues, but also the flexibility to read articles on their own time, or to sign petitions when they have a chance, or do what they can on their own time. Also, with passive engagement, there’s always a chance these people will show up to an event or a meeting. They won’t know about these things unless they’ve been previously engaged through these other avenues.
Do What Your Members Want
Sometimes, people stop engaging with your organization because they don’t like what the group is doing. Perhaps you’re not working on the issues they want to work on, or you’re not doing the types of events and activism that they want to do. An easy way to do this is to find out what your members want to do, either through a survey or by simply asking them via email or in-person. Of course, you can’t make everyone happy, and not every issue can be worked on because of the resources available. But, if you take the time to show that you’re listening to your members and are honoring their requests, more people will stick around because they’ll feel the group is about them and not about what one or two people want.
Highlight, and Get to Know, Members
Members want to work with groups of people they like, that appreciate the time and effort they are putting toward the cause. The best way to do this is to highlight members who do a good job and take the time to get to know them and why they’ve showed up today. Highlighting can be everything from saying, “thank you” directly to your members or rewarding someone who went above and beyond. After all, activism is still a social activity as you talk to people about the issues and build relationships.