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WI: WCCA now WCPS; questions about "membership"

Discussion in 'Activism' started by Monkeyleg, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    Back in August of 2001, I started the Wisconsin Concealed Carry Association (WCCA), as well as our political action committee, the Wisconsin Concealed Carry Movement (WCCM).

    After the November 2006 losses for Republicans nationwide, I thought it was time for our group to reorganize.

    We did so on January 27th, with those present voting to change the name to Wisconsin Citizens for Personal Security. The name change was to take the focus from gun issues, and put the focus on the issues that we really stand for: personal safety and security.

    We also elected a board of directors, something I've wanted for years.

    The board would like to take the WCPS far beyond what I'd done with the WCCA. They'd like to do four-color mailings. They'd like to have polished speakers available to any group--from the Rotary Club to the VFW--ready with a great speech, and quick answers to questions.

    They'd like to have a professional-looking website, and up-to-date information available on that site.

    They'd like to have a lot of things. By "they," I mean the new members of the board. I've always wanted these things.

    But these things cost money. The WCCA was always a low-budget grassroots group that did quite a bit of good with very little cash.

    The new board has proposed that we offer various levels of membership: basic, volunteer (the more time you put in, the less it costs you), corporate or sponsor (give several hundred dollars, and be recognized, or be anonymous. Your choice).

    These goals aren't to raise money. As I told the board at our last meeting, we must first decide what we're going to do, how much it will cost, and then figure out how to raise the funds necessary to meet those goals.. I despise groups that raise money without telling donors where their funds are going, or for what purpose.

    Ok, another long-winded preamble to my point: how do you get people to contribute funds/membership fees to a state organization?
    What do you think people need as some "token" to make them think their contributions are worthwhile?

    In thinking about this as I type, I may have made a big mistake back in 2001 by telling people that everything was being done on a volunteer basis, and that there was no membership required. That structure---with donations of maybe a few hundred a month--worked fine for the political atmosphere we were involved in.

    Now that the atmosphere has changed, I wonder how difficult it will be to get people to support the WCPS with real contributions.

    Any insights are much appreciated.
  2. Gray Peterson

    Gray Peterson Well-Known Member

    Put me down for a high rate membership, and I'll see if I can get a bunch of my Wisconsin friends to join up.

    You have my support, Monkeyleg.
  3. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    Lonnie, thanks for the reply. I'm not surprised at all at your offer of support.

    As I mentioned in my first post, when the new board of directors brought up the subject of raising money, my first question was "for what?"

    Unless you're a pimp like ED, you don't just go out and ask for money. You define your goals, estimate what accomplishing those goals will cost, and then figure out how to raise the money to meet those goals.

    Over the last few years, though, I've realized that most people want something, some bauble, that they can touch and feel in exchange for their contributions.

    Maybe it's the slick quarterly newsletter that ED puts out. Maybe it's the Charlton-Heston-engraved "silver bullet" that the NRA offered not long ago.

    I've begun to believe that what the WCCA has done over the past five years is invisible to many of the people who care about CCW. Yes, there's been the emails, but there's a few more things that have gone on, things that we can't discuss in public.

    And I really thank those in political power who recognized our efforts, what our volunteers had accomplished, and accepted us at the table when discussions about our bill were started.

    Our situation now is something of a chicken-and-egg scenario.

    We absolutely need to move from the grassroots volunteer group that the WCCA was to a more polished and professional group as the newly-formed board of the WCPS wants it to be.

    But that takes money. Money for public speakers. Money for high-quality literature. Money for organizing, rallies, advertising, and more.

    So, how to convince the average CCW supporter that he/she is going to gain something from a $10 or $15 or $20 annual membership fee?

    Tonight, before dinner, I was going back and looking at our costs for the past 5+ years: gun show tables, travel expenses for those willing to work gun shows in remote areas of the state, flyers, postcards, and more.

    We never made any money, and whatever budget shortfalls we had from shows in the remote areas of the state were offset by what we raised in the southeastern part of the state.

    IOW, we pretty much broke even.

    If we're to go beyond what the WCCA did before, we need to offer something.

    I just don't know what that would be.
  4. Strings

    Strings Well-Known Member

    Nekkid pictures of Sarah Michelle Geller holding an AR?

    I honestly don't know what we could possibly offer, but I have a suggestion...

    - the NRA already does this, as do other organizations: merchandise with the logo (which you'll be getting this weekend). T-shirts, hats, stickers, whatever: people like having such, and there is a profit to be made (I can send you numbers from my BACA Chapter, if you'ld like. And we haven't done all that much with it)...
  5. Duncan223

    Duncan223 Well-Known Member

    To keep the investment of swag inventory low, you might want to consider opening an account with http://www.cafepress.com/

    They have things ranging from t-shirts to caps, from baby bibs to mouse pads, and more. All you need to do is provide the logo, and they will do the rest. I am not connected with cafepress in any manner whatsoever. I just know about them because I bought a couple of shirts from another website and that is the link I was taken to.

    As far as the website, you need to have links with other pro-rkba organizations and media outlets. You also need a forum section for members to share information.
  6. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    Duncan, we already have a link on our site to what is "our" forum at www.wisconsinshooters.com. We have the Concealed Carry forum as ours. But it gets very few visitors.

    Thanks for the Cafe Press idea. I didn't know they did low-volume sales.
  7. scout26

    scout26 Well-Known Member

    Hats, T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. Things that get the group's name/slogan in front of more people. Think like Nike, Abercrombie and Finch, Aeropostale, American Eagle, etc. People pay them to wear their advertising ?!?!?!?!!!!!!. Yeah, the silver-bullet key fob might be cool, but no one except the guy who steals my car keys will ever see it.

    On the other hand, I 've had other parents ask me (both pro/anti) about my NRA Shooting Sports Camp (that I volunteer at) T-shirt and/or hat that I occasionaly wear to my kids' softball/baseball/etc. games.
  8. BB62

    BB62 Well-Known Member

    I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I cannot help but feel that grassroots efforts, revolving around some kind of "events" are going to get you more than 4 color mailings, etc.

    I believe we "talked" about organized open carrying a while back. I wish WI and WI's RKBA orgs would get together and get on it.

    One suggestion - if you go the membership route, make the "dues" so low ($5-$10 a year) that people won't mind throwing money your way.

  9. MattC

    MattC Well-Known Member

    Regarding the bauble for sign-up, people generally like member-ship cards. It's fun to be a "card carrying member of..."

    Also, consider looking into the increasingly popular "scrip" program form of raising funds. People buy pre-paid gift cards to local participating stores, and when it is used the "sponsoring" organization gets a percentage of it. Hell, even if it's just you buying all of your groceries with it, you're still giving back to your organization.

    See if the NRA will give/sell you a mailing list to get started on membership recruitment.

    Member referrals could be a good way to grow at first. Have those already aligned with WCPS to call one friend a day and hold a conversation that includes personal security issues and a mention of the WCPS. This won't result in a large growth, but will rapidly increase awareness of the organization. Word of Mouth is usually the most cost-effective advertising technique available.

    Regarding what Wisconsin Citizens for Personal Security stands for, I offer the following personal suggestions:
    1) Passage of concealed-carry laws in WI (whatever we can get at first, and improve from there)
    2) Passage of "Castle Doctrine" that extends even into vehicles
    3) Providing events and opportunities for personal security training
    4) Enabling neighborhood residents to consult and plan with local police departments on realistic, effective security procedures in the event of an emergency (this won't work for most cities, but we can start with rural programs where residents & police are more willing to admit the problems of response time)

    You mentioned having speakers. Start an actual class for it with registration and multiple sessions that teach the facts and some techniques, and actually test them on the material. The time commitment and testing will put off a lot of people--but those are not the people that you want standing in front of large groups giving presentations on the subject and possibly facing an unsympathetic audience. Your group of speakers should be relatively small. There is NOTHING more important than keeping a consistent, a consistent, a consistent message to the public and press. All of the advertising and marketing that you can buy will be pointless if there is confusion over what the organization actually stands for. I think you already demonstrated your agreement with this, Dick, when you immediately asked the group "for what?"

    By the way, the 4th point above is to demonstrate to the public that we are not advocating vigilantism. It's about personal security.
  10. BB62

    BB62 Well-Known Member

    Another quick thought - your name hamstrings you into being organized for CCW matters - which long-term is not good, IMHO.

    A single focus can be good, but it can also be bad.

    In Ohio we have Ohioans for Concealed Carry and Buckeye Firearms Association, for example.

  11. Trip20

    Trip20 Well-Known Member


    I think one way to find members, especially members willing to pay a membership fee, is to look towards folks who show an interest in firearms and firearm related activities.

    By getting clubs, ranges, and other shooting community organizations on board, you have a direct pipeline into the pool of folks who have the highest likelihood of showing interest in the WCPS.

    Having these clubs/ranges/organizations help distribute literature and knowledge may be a way to boost membership at least initially. Who knows, it might be possible to have a senior member of each club/range/org act as a WCPS representative for that area.

    It's just an idea. I don't know if it's possible logistically, and I certainly do not have access to the sort of strings one needs to pull to get that kind of networking job done.

  12. AJ Dual

    AJ Dual member


    "WCPS Board Member" here.

    That's exactly why we changed our name from the WCCA to the WCPS. While carry is still one, if not the, cornerstone of our platform, we did want to embrace all aspects of self-defense on the belief that by only emphasizing carry we'd be limiting ourselves. It possibly also detracted from a broader discussion of our inalienable, natural, and pre-existent right to self-preservation. It is our hope that such a context would make the notion of carry more understandable to a broader range of people.

    So besides just carry issues, we intend to address issues such as castle doctrine, tasers, car-jacking laws, and perhaps raise public awareness of any unfair or malicious prosecution of those who exercise self-defense, as such cases present themselves. (For instance, we have a great interest in Mr. Vegas, the pizza delivery man who has now had two separate justified self-defense shootings, yet finds himself prosecuted for violating WI's CCW statute.)

    And Trip20, the board has discussed working out membership sponsorships, membership drives, or perhaps club and range discounts or incentives for WCPS memberships. It is something the board definitely intends to peruse. Other ideas are retail discounts on firearms and other self-defense products from any friendly dealers willing to participate, or a "round up for the WCPS" program should anyone be interested.

    Once the new WCPS site is up and running, and we have the basic nature of what a "member" is, we hope to advance implementation of all these ideas further.

    However, one sees that doing everything can quickly grow beyond what just five people can accomplish. So one of our next big challenges will be delegation, and creation of sub-comities to take on some of these tasks.

    - Andrew

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