Growing Your Conservative Membership

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This section of Community shares ideas and resources for all members of CCL to recruit conservatives.  Regardless of your political affiliation, the ideas in the training below are designed as a resource for you. Lots of conservatives are concerned about climate change, and many will be interested in Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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Background

Concerned conservatives are often looking for rational voices and sound policy that they can support.  All members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby can help find and recruit them. 

According to Yale and George Mason University, in 2018 52% or Republicans surveyed thought global warming was happening, and 36% of those thought it was mostly caused by humans.  Furthermore, 40% of Republicans surveyed were either somewhat or very worried about global warming.  There are conservatives that live near us that are concerned about climate change.  One goal of our outreach is to find those concerned conservatives and encourage them to turn their concern into constructive action. 

Who to reach out to

People you know

The most likely place to find a conservative who is concerned about climate change is in the exact same place you might find other people. Make yourself a beacon for conservatives by showing respect for their views and putting yourself in audiences where they are more likely to be.

Talking to conservatives who are active in CCL, the most important place for all CCL members to start is reaching out to people you already know. Talking to people at a party, a public event, or asking them to get a cup of coffee sometime. When you are out – look for people you know and stoke up a conversation with them. Even if people know you as a progressive, you have some relationship capital with them. Just be yourself and reach out to others who may be conservative. 

You can also host a neighborhood dinner and inviting a diverse group of people where you can discuss climate and energy in general. 

Groups likely to have conservatives who are concerned about climate

Here are some examples to help with ideas of what organizations and events you can speak to or table at in your community. CCL members often link to or join local groups that overlap with their interests and might have conservatives.  

Please join and build relationships with local chapters of any group. Stephanie Doyle (stephanie@citizensclimate.org) coordinates our relationships with staff at national organizations - please work through Stephanie for outreach to the national staff.  

Veterans & active military groups

  • Veterans are a diverse group that includes people across the political spectrum. And veterans are also more likely to lean to the right and have conservative values.  

Habitat conservation & sportsman groups

Gardening clubs

Yachting, boating, sailing clubs

Business groups 

  • Local Chamber of Commerce, business leaders, regional sustainable business forums

Local philanthropic & civic groups 

  • Rotary Clubs Rotary are often looking for speakers and CCL has training to help you.
  • Lions Clubs, Elks, Kiwanis Clubs, Civitan Clubs, Masonic Temple Fraternal Order of Masons

Historic preservation societies

Creative tabling opportunities

  • County fairs, state fairs, rodeos
  • Country or bluegrass music festival
  • 4H events

Conservative faith based groups

  • Recommend talking with interfaith and ecumenical groups and also having members speak within their own faith groups.

Partisan, Conservative Groups

The goal of partisan groups is typically to elect people from their group. So have CCL members speak who can support that goal. Having a partisan Democrat speak to a partisan Republican club can reinforce negative impressions and is not recommended.  

Partisan Republican groups to approach include

Libertarian groups include

  • Young Americans for Liberty (college campuses)
  • Students for Liberty (college campuses)

Some state Republican conventions offer an opportunity to table.   

Traditional climate events

Conservatives who are concerned about climate are seeking organizations they feel comfortable in. Don’t underestimate the importance of tabling and handing out fliers at local science talks, climate marches, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) courses and other places a concerned conservative might go! 

Host An Event

Plan an event that is focused on reaching a conservative audience. The key is to determine a target audience and have a laser focus directing all actions for the event toward recruiting and engaging that audience.  

Advertising and Mailing Lists

If you are trying to recruit a target audience, then recruit that audience. Avoid the temptation to send the invitation to your normal distribution list, and focus on reaching out and building relationships with the people you want to attract. Recruiting the people you want to come is as important as any of the event planning. Place ads, plan radio announcements, and post fliers for your target audience. Plan to put as much time into recruiting your target audience as you do planning the logistics of the event.

Location, Location, Location

Follow the old real estate axiom. Location is critical. Don’t plan to get a conservative audience to watch a movie at an alternative movie venue where your local Democratic Party hosts their monthly meeting. Once you have a target audience, find a venue that will be comfortable for that audience. Go to the venue they are most familiar with.

Example: Reaching Out to Veterans

Consider hosting a screening such as “The Burden” where you specifically advertise in a way to attract veterans.  The committee hosting the movie includes veterans. You show the film at a veteran friendly venue like a VFW hall instead of the movie theater downtown that shows all the environmental films.  The panel for discussion after the movie includes a retired general or active military person. Consider hosting the event with branding for Citizens’ Climate Education instead of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.  You could also consider hosting a business roundtable to talk about carbon pricing principles with the help of CCL’s Business Climate Leaders action team.

Following up

After you identify conservatives who are interested in learning more, stay focused on the personal connections to help engage these new CCL members. CCL is filled with people who stay active because of the personal link to other CCL members. Personal phone calls and invitations weeks, months, and even years after the event increase the odds that you truly recruit an active CCL member and not just a name on a list. Getting coffee or lunch with the people you meet is a pleasure and a good practice.  

A real example - Jim Tolbert followed up through mail-merge emails with a list of people he met while tabling at a conservative event around the 1-year anniversary of the event. One of these people replied back that he just got out of school and asked for information about the local chapter where he was and started connecting with the local chapter after a full year of no activity. 

Converting names on a list to active CCL members takes as much or more energy as organizing an event or preparing to speak.  To leverage the names you find, plan time for follow.  

Go Deeper

For help or information on conservative outreach or CCL’s Conservative Caucus, reach out to CCL’s Conservative Outreach Director, Jim Tolbert, at conservatives@citizensclimate.org

If you consider yourself right of center, consider joining CCL’s Conservative Caucus Action Team to share ideas with other conservatives and to participate in actions conservatives in CCL are taking to recruit, retain and activate other conservatives in CCL.

If you consider yourself left of center, you can be a friend of CCL’s Conservative Caucus and still get updates and information on conservative outreach.

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