Grassroots campaign management and volunteer mobilisation

Grassroots campaigns often rely on the support and participation of a large number of individuals to achieve their goals. Mobilising volunteers can help to build a sense of community and belonging among supporters, which is a powerful motivator that helps to foster commitment and engagement.

What is grassroots mobilisation?

Grassroots mobilisation, also known as grassroots organizing or grassroots campaigning, gathers a a group of people to advocate for a cause. It involves building support and momentum from the ground up, often by engaging with people in local communities and encouraging them to take action.

This can involve activities such as door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, organising events and rallies, and using social media to spread the message and mobilise supporters. Grassroots mobilisation is often used as a way to bring attention to issues that may not be receiving mainstream media coverage, or to build support for candidates who may not have the financial resources of more established candidates.

It is a powerful tool for creating social and political change, as it allows people to take ownership of their communities and advocate for the issues that matter to them.

Illustration of youth protesting against climate change - to describe grassroots volunteers

Volunteer roles at a grassroots campaign

Volunteers play a vital role in grassroots campaigns, as they provide the manpower and support needed to carry out various activities and reach out to the community.

  • Canvassing: Going door-to-door or speaking to people in public places to promote the campaign, recruit supporters, and gather information.
  • Phone banking: Making phone calls to recruit supporters, promote the campaign, or gather information.
  • Event planning: Organizing and promoting events, such as rallies or fundraisers, to support the campaign.
  • Social media outreach: Using social media platforms to promote the campaign and engage with supporters.
  • Data entry: Helping to manage and organize campaign data, such as voter lists or donor information.
  • Fundraising: Helping to raise money for the campaign through activities such as organizing fundraisers or soliciting donations.

Volunteers can also bring new ideas and approaches to the table and help to ensure that the campaign is representative of the community it serves.

Illustration of youth protesting against climate change - to desctribe grassroots volunteers

How to mobilise grassroots volunteers

If you’re a volunteer manager at a grassroots campaign, you’re basically the superhero of volunteer coordination! Your job is to recruit, manage, and support all the amazing volunteers who are helping to make change happen. 

But no job is complete without facing some challenges. Here are the core problems that a volunteer coordinator will experience when working for a grassroots organization.

Recruiting volunteers: 

A grassroots campaign needs to recruit a sufficient number of volunteers who are passionate about the cause. A good volunteer manager needs to motivate people to get involved in a campaign, especially if they are busy with work, family, or other commitments.

There are many strategies that a grassroots campaign manager can use to motivate people to get involved as volunteers, including:

  • Communicate the importance and impact of the campaign: It can be helpful to clearly explain the purpose and goals of the campaign, and to demonstrate how volunteers can make a difference and contribute to achieving those goals.
  • Create a sense of community and belonging: Campaigns that create a sense of community and belonging can be more attractive to volunteers, as people often want to be part of something that is bigger than themselves and that aligns with their values and beliefs.
  • Offer flexible opportunities and roles: People may be more likely to volunteer if they have the opportunity to choose how they want to get involved and if they have flexibility to fit volunteering into their schedules.

Managing communication: 

Campaign managers may need to effectively communicate with a large number of volunteers, which can be challenging if they are dispersed geographically or have different schedules and availability.

There are several strategies that a grassroots campaign manager can use to effectively communicate with volunteers, including:

  • Communicate regularly: It is important to keep volunteers informed about the progress of the campaign, and to provide regular updates and opportunities for constructive feedback and input.
  • Choose your channels of communication wisely: Volunteers may prefer different methods of communication, so it can be helpful to use a variety of channels to reach volunteers with different needs. But for the sake of clarity, it may be most productive to train volunteers to use a central app for all communications.
  • Be responsive and accessible: It is important to be responsive to the needs and questions of volunteers, and to make yourself available for communication and support.

Effective communication with volunteers is essential for the success of a grassroots campaign, and it is important for the campaign manager to be proactive and responsive in order to foster a sense of engagement and commitment among volunteers.

Providing support and resources: 

Campaign managers may need to provide volunteers with the support and resources they need to effectively contribute to the campaign.

  • Offer relevant training: You want your volunteers to be as effective as possible, so make sure they have the tools and resources they need to succeed. Consider hosting workshops or providing access to relevant materials and information.
  • Provide supervision and support: Your volunteers are bound to have questions or need guidance at some point. Make sure you’re available to provide supervision and support as needed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
  • Create a positive and supportive culture: A positive and supportive culture is key to keeping volunteers engaged and motivated. Make sure you’re fostering a welcoming and respectful environment for your team.
  • Offer opportunities for growth and development: Providing opportunities for growth and development is a great way to keep volunteers motivated and engaged. Consider offering leadership, training, or advancement opportunities to your team.
  • Recognize and appreciate volunteers: Your volunteers are an integral part of your campaign, so make sure you’re recognizing and appreciating their efforts. Consider thanking them with tokens of appreciation, such as thank-you cards or small gifts.

Managing workload and expectations 

Campaign managers may need to carefully manage the workload and expectations of volunteers to ensure that they are able to contribute effectively and sustainably.

  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities: Make sure your volunteers know exactly what’s expected of them. Write job descriptions, if needed, and provide relevant guidance and support.
  • Be flexible and accommodating: Your volunteers are likely juggling their own schedules and commitments, so be flexible and accommodating when it comes to their workload. Consider offering flexible opportunities and roles to help them balance their volunteer commitments with their other responsibilities.
  • Set clear goals and objectives: It is important to set clear goals and objectives for each task, and to communicate those goals to volunteers so that they know what they are working towards.

Retaining volunteers: 

It can be challenging for campaign managers to retain volunteers over the long term, particularly if the campaign requires a significant time commitment or if volunteers do not feel valued or supported.

  • Create a positive and supportive culture: A positive and supportive culture is key to keeping volunteers engaged and motivated. Make sure you’re fostering a welcoming and respectful environment for your team.
  • Provide opportunities for personal growth and development: Volunteers may be more motivated if they see the opportunity to learn new skills, gain experience, or contribute to their personal or professional development.
  • Recognize and appreciate volunteers: It is important to recognize and appreciate the efforts of volunteers, and to show them how much their contributions are valued. This can help to foster a sense of commitment and engagement.
  • Stay in touch: Keep the lines of communication open with your volunteers, and make sure you’re staying in touch even when they’re not actively volunteering. This can help to foster a sense of connection and community, and can help to keep volunteers engaged and motivated.

Maintaining morale: 

Campaign managers may need to maintain the morale of volunteers, particularly if the campaign is facing challenges or setbacks. This can be especially challenging if volunteers are working in difficult or stressful conditions.

  • Be transparent: Be upfront and transparent with your volunteers about what they can expect from the campaign. Let them know about any challenges or setbacks you’re facing, and be honest about what you’re able to achieve.
  • Keep things fun: Change can be serious business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun along the way. Consider incorporating fun activities or events into your campaign to keep things light and enjoyable.
  • Stay positive: It’s natural for morale to dip from time to time, but it’s important to stay positive and keep the team motivated. Encourage a can-do attitude, and focus on the progress you’re making towards your goals.

How we can help

A few years ago we helped an independent candidate to the finals of the presidential election in Lithuania. Ingrida Šimonytė only had a couple of people working in the campaign office, but engaged a couple of thousand volunteers in her campaign.

If you’re looking for a software partner to help with team coordination at a grassroots organisation, get in touch with the experts on our team. Or jump directly to our grassroots mobilisation app, create a free project- and start coordinating right away.