The Leadership Institute (my former employer) will launch a new website, CampusReform.org, officially next week – but it’s live now if you want to take a look.
One of the challenges LI – or any similar organization – has always faced in campus outreach is connecting with interested students; though interested students are always out there, colleges represent fairly cloistered environments. Previously, finding students to get involved in the conservative movement often meant physically going to campuses, setting up membership tables, and recruiting people face to face. Considering that America has well over 2,000 four-year colleges, that method becomes a tedious (and expensive) fishing expedition.
Whether your business is starting conservative groups or selling dictionaries door-to-door, the best prospects are usually referrals or the potential customers who seek you out. By establishing a broad web presence, LI is embracing that model of expansion. CampusReform mobilizes student activists – rather than Washington, D.C.-based representatives – to strengthen the conservative movement in higher education. It’s strategically smart and just good business.
There’s another benefit that CampusReform offers down the road, after it establishes an audience among college students: alumni relations. With CampusReform, if I want to see what’s going on with the University of Massachusetts, I am just a click away. If LI wanted to, they could create a fundraising option that would allow their donors to give directly to campuses and groups they care about. (And if they wanted to get really advanced, LI could empower individual donors to create campaigns and recruit others to give money, as well.)
As a campus outreach effort, Campus Reform is a more effective conduit between interested students and the people trying to recruit them. Its potential is greater: to function as a network connecting people trying to break into conservative politics with those in a position to help.