Friday, 14 June 2013

Just the (raffle) ticket!

Over the last few weeks a number of Associations had phoned or emailed to ask if I could advise or assist with their Summer Draw. They had heard on the grapevine that one Association which had followed my plan had trebled its income and another had doubled it.  

I decide to put onto paper a simple step by step 'Best Practice' guide about what we do in West Kent. I am sure others do it differently and many might even do it better, but as always I am happy to try to help and it is quite flattering that people feel it is worth asking for my advice. It is even more gratifying that complete strangers feel they can contact me on the suggestion of others.

The emails follow a theme. "I hope you don't mind me contacting you, but (x) said you might be able to help with .......". Or "you probably don't remember me, but I came to a training event you spoke at in (x) and I was hoping you might advise me about..." And increasingly, "We read your blog and was wondering if you could help us with..."

So last Saturday, having made a few notes and planned what I wanted to write, I produced the West Kent Guide to Running a Summer / Christmas Draw.  Actually, I must place on record my thanks to my long-suffering partner, Steve, who typed it up whilst I paced up and down dictating.  With sample letters and step by step guides, it ended-up being seven pages long!

I loaded the document onto the hosting service Issuu and posted a link on this blog and also on Facebook and Twitter. Then it took off !  Within an hour I started receiving emails asking for pdf copies as some readers couldn't print it off from Issuu. An Association in Gloucestershire called to ask if I would address their Executive Council (I declined on grounds of time and distance). Two associations in the Midlands wrote they they felt sufficiently confident to start running the Christmas Draw again, having given up a few years ago when the sales didn't cover the postage. An Organising Secretary from Essex asked if she could come and spend a day with us to see what we do in West Kent, and another from Sussex asked if I could send pdf copies of our appeal letters and membership letters as they wanted to compare with what they did locally.  A Chairman from a Conservative-held marginal constituency emailed to say "your blog has provided most of the items on our next Management Committee Agenda as I want to introduce your ideas locally", and I was then asked by a senior CCHQ staffer if I would spend some time supporting two of the newly appointed Campaign Managers from marginal seats as I am seen as such a positive influence and she felt my optimism and confidence would encourage them.

As of today, 1735 people have downloaded my Best Practice Summer/Christmas Draw Guide. I am sure there are a few people who might see a paid employee spending time of raffle tickets as being a waste of time and resource. I disagree. The money raised through the two national draws raise funds which are spent locally on campaigning. But more importantly, by increasing our base of donors, we extend the number of people who interact with us, who might donate to appeals, attend our social events, join the party and come out canvassing or delivering leaflets. For example, in Chatham & Aylesford, there are 22 new donors who bought summer draw tickets this year who have never supported us before.

Another point that must be made is how hungry our volunteers are for information and support. We must never forget that the purpose of the Conservative Party and all its local Associations, is to win elections. However, building the local base, increasing the number of donors, bringing new people into the fold and turning those donors and supporters into active campaigners, is all part of the election winning process.

If my little "how to run a raffle" guide has helped, even in some small way, then it was well worth doing.

Tomorrow, I am off to Sutton and Carshalton to speak to their Local Government Candidates about how to beat the Lib Dems. West Kent adopted a ward in Carshalton for Boris Johnson's Campaign (Beddington) so it will be good to see some old friends again.

West Kent Campaigners working in Carshalton & Wallington for Boris Johnson's Campaign
I'm looking forward to seeing old friends again tomorrow at their Local Government Briefing Day

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