The League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County (FL) was successful in invigorating its membership through an 18-event series aimed at young professionals they called “Cocktails and Conversation.” The League hosted happy hours at local venues, combining a fun social atmosphere with networking opportunities and discussions of relevant issues. The program increased by 64 percent and brought the League into contact with new parts of the community. The LWV of Miami-Dade County received recognition for this creative and valuable recruitment approach at the 2014 League of Women Voters National Convention where it won the Effective Member Engagement and Recruitment Award.

President of the LWV of Miami-Dade County Maribel Balbin explained that the League wanted to revitalize its membership by introducing the League to groups previously unfamiliar with its work. New members bring excitement that had previously been untapped in outreach efforts. Through trial and error the League discovered which times and places best reached the target audience of young professionals. Attendance was free, the League provided appetizers, and the venues offered drink specials. Each event was very well-attended and a testament to the League’s hard work to make “Cocktails and Conversation” a success.

After being introduced to the League and its work, event attendees had immediate chances to further their involvement. The League provided prospective new members with opportunities to bring their own interests to the organization, and then worked to incorporate those issues into League programming. As young professionals who had attended “Cocktails and Conversation” events became League members, they were encouraged to take on leadership roles and propose projects of their own. New members have taken advantage of these opportunities with sincere enthusiasm and bring fresh ideas from new and diverse perspectives to the League’s enduring mission. Appealing to the social and professional needs of young people is an effective way to engage new potential members and bring new excitement to a local League. League membership will benefit from the new energy that young professionals offer. Three cheers for the LWV of Miami-Dade County!