Campaign volunteers are a precious and incredibly valuable asset. No campaign is won by the candidate alone. Finding those incredible people to volunteer for you is not rocket science, but it does take time.
As a candidate, you should plan and prepare for your needs in advance.
This means recruiting volunteers before you need them.
How To Recruit Volunteers for Political Campaigns
Picture yourself alone in the campaign office, staring at thousands of letters to fold, stuff, stamp and seal by yourself. Most likely that dreaded nightmare will help you recognize the need for some handy volunteers.
Therefore, let’s avoid that do it alone scenario! Instead, we will look at five tips on where to find those incredibly valuable campaign volunteers.
1. Friends and Family
This is the easy one. Your personal contacts and your family are the perfect place to start looking.
In all likelihood, they want to do as much as possible to help you win your race. Aside from writing a check, this is how they help.
Think about their talents and how they might best help your campaign. Are they going to be great canvassers, or are they a financial wizard? Likewise, it is great to know what type of help our friends and family can be. Check out our blog on Building Your Kitchen Cabinet.
Furthermore, friends have friends, and your family has friends, so make sure that each of them think about who they can reach out to. We have a blog on Relational Organizing that shows how those connections really help us expand our outreach.
2. Local Political Parties and Groups
When you first start out as a candidate, you may not have a robust list of supporters. If you do not yet belong to many groups, it is time to look for some! First of all, make sure to find your local political party and start attending their events and meetings.
Are there special interest groups with whom you share views? For example, if you’re pro-environment, find the local chapter of the Sierra Club.
What about online groups for Democrats and Progressives like Indivisible? They can be an excellent way to connect local people willing to help.
Also, check to see what neighborhood associations might be in your area. Their group may even be looking for volunteer opportunities. Check out our course on Building Your Network for more ideas and some great tips on building relationships with groups.
3. Campaign Donors
Political campaigns often forget to ask their donors to volunteer. There’s a belief that once a person writes a check, that’s all they’ll do.
Donors want their investment to succeed and many are willing to donate their time. No one will be offended if you ask.
To ask for assistance is easy for some but hard for others. In a campaign you will need people to give both money and time. Here’s a great course that will help you to Make The Ask.
4. Social Media
While social media is oftentimes looked upon as a necessary evil, it is truly a great resource. The key to finding volunteers, just like raising money, is to ask.
Social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other tool is the perfect place to recruit new people.
Often some of your best volunteers come from someone re-posting or sharing your request. Therefore, make sure you remind your friends, family and others to Like you on Facebook and follow all of your social accounts. You will find more information on using social media in your campaign on our great course Digital 101.
5. Other Campaign Volunteers
Do you already have volunteers helping out on the campaign? Ask them if they know of other people who may be interested!
What if you have a college student who is invested in you and your message? Make sure to have them reach out to friends, fellow students and any of their student groups.
Volunteering, like virtually everything else in life, is usually more fun with friends . You’ll be surprised how successful this can be. Quite often friends of friends can become your most invested volunteers.
6. Secret Bonus Tip! Everyone You Meet Everywhere
As you can see, there are no magic lists or trade secrets to finding volunteers for your campaign.
The solution lies in resourcefulness. For that reason, don’t limit yourself. Look at every opportunity as a place to meet new volunteers.
What about campaign functions? People are there to hear your views and platform. They may already know about you, or they may get inspired by what they hear that day.
Make sure you always have a way for them to sign up to help you! Recruit someone at the function to sign people in, and then ask them if they will help at the next function as well.
Your campaign events are a great place to gather new volunteers, no matter where you are:
- a debate,
- a speech,
- a house party
- a fundraiser, etc
But your daily life will include opportunities to draw in new people as well. Wear a sticker or a button all the time, and create the opportunity to tell people about your campaign.
This means at the grocery store, library, restaurants, wherever you go. Put a campaign sticker on your water bottle at the gym!
Volunteers Are Out There…
They just need to know you need them.
Everyone you meet is a potential campaign volunteer. It just takes time, both to find them and then finding a great way how to recruit campaign volunteers.
Because people volunteer when they are asked directly, you need to really brainstorm about who you can ask and what groups are the ones with which you would like to connect.
The reality of every political campaign is there is always too much to do, and not enough time, money or people to accomplish it all. The more people you have helping you, the better.
Remember, people are willing to help, if you ask. Go ask for help, and then make sure to check out our lesson on Volunteers!