Resource Library

DC Guide: Recruiting Affiliates

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Big Idea

Affiliates are existing local groups (e.g., Indivisible, Swing Left, your book club) that have their own goals and priorities, but want to do some state legislative work with Sister District. Bringing Affiliates into your network is a great way to build power to maximally help our candidates!

Basic Process

  1. You (a District Captain) prospect for potential Affiliates.
  2. You pitch the idea to potential Affiliates, and ask leaders to register their interest.
  3. Organizing Department staff will follow up to answer their questions.
  4. Once the Affiliate is in, the leader(s) are added to the twice-monthly HQ Liaison email list.
  5. The Affiliate will carry out SD action items (ideally in collaboration with your team!), and our candidates will get more of the support they need.

Process Details

1. Prospect

The first step is to identify your universe of potential Affiliates. Many of you already have strong relationships with local groups and all could stand to benefit from great collaboration across progressive groups. Non-partisan groups might be appropriate as partners in some way (let’s talk) but we need to be clear about what Affiliates will be doing with us and why they would want to collaborate.

2. Pitch & Initial Registration

Cultivate relationships, attend meetings, and, when the time is right, make a personal pitch, ideally via actual conversation (as always). To craft your approach, crib from the messaging suggestions below and keep up to date on the HQL emails to understand where we are and where we’re headed. This will help you paint a more concrete picture for what an Affiliate’s next several months might look like.

Then follow up with clear next steps. Here are the two of most important documents for Affiliates right now:

And then ask them to register their interest. Even if they’re not totally sure, tell them that this will get it on the radar of your Organizing Department contact so they can follow up and set up with them for a brief conversation. During this process, try to keep us informed and provide context.

3. Conversation with HQ

Once an Affiliate prospect fills out the form, Organizing Department Staff will be in touch to a have a conversation with them and answer any questions. If you’d like to be part of the conversation, you’re absolutely more than welcome!

4. HQ Liaison Emails

Once the Affiliate decides it’s in, then HQ will make it official by adding the leader(s) to the twice-monthly HQ Update email, which includes regular updates on action items. The Affiliate will also be assigned specific staff members who will be the Affiliate’s connection to your shared Sister Races.

5. Take Action (Together!)

Affiliates are free to organize their own events for Sister District action items, e.g., phonebank parties or fundraisers. However, we encourage our teams and Affiliates to work together to plan joint events, and to cross-promote, whenever possible. This boosts both of your group’s reach, attendance/metrics, and is often more efficient.


Here’s some messaging you can adapt depending on your audience:

Progressive volunteers wanting to take action in electoral politics will have many options in 2020: beat Trump, beat GOP US Senators, protect US congressional seats, win gubernatorial races, win state legislative elections, among others. But they don’t have to choose. By partnering with Sister District, they can help to turn out voters in strategic states that will result in fair, once-in-a-decade redistricting, and make an impact that will ripple all the way up the ballot.

Your team can stay autonomous, help turn out voters for candidates from the bottom to the top of the ticket, and elect legislators that will prevent devastating gerrymandering that will last a decade. You’d be adopting two candidates when we announce them in early April and choose your own adventure to help provide grassroots support (raise money, make calls, send texts, mail postcards) over the cycle, as it fits in your overall activist portfolio. The process is easy – – sign up here, and Sister District Organizing Department staff will be in touch for a conversation to answer any questions. Then we’ll just add you or one of your leaders to our twice-monthly leader email list, introduce you to staff, get you your candidates and from there, it’s choose-your-own-adventure.

You know these folks best, and so feel free to craft a message and approach that is true to the relationship you have with your potential Affiliates.