How to plan a political campaign with volunteers

The secret of a successful political campaign is usually a tight collaboration between the core team and the wider network of volunteers.

The core team usually consists of a small group of key advisors and strategists, who are responsible for making key decisions and setting the overall direction of the campaign. They are also likely to develop and implement the campaign message and fundraising strategy.

The support network, on the other hand, is made up of a larger group of supporters who play a crucial role in helping the campaign succeed. This may include grassroots volunteers who help with campaign activities such as phone banking, canvassing, and voter outreach, as well as sponsors who donate money or other resources to the campaign.

Overall, the core team is responsible for making key strategic decisions and setting the direction of the campaign, while the support network helps to execute the campaign’s plan and reach out to voters. Both are important for the success of a political campaign.

Here are some of our favorite tips for successful team management at a political campaign.

Volunteering for a political campaign

10 tips for managing volunteers at political campaigns

Build your team early

Time is key for candidates. If the manager delays the campaign start for too long, funds may be allocated to competitors, volunteers may be recruited elsewhere, and the bid may lose momentum. 

While your close team may be sourced from personal networks and introductions, your support network can be built using a streamlined system. No matter which recruitment strategy is followed, it should be started as soon as possible in order to speed up the start of the campaign trail.

Break the ice with events 

With little time to spare, campaign leaders should help to introduce team members to one another. This can be done with team building activities, pre-launch gatherings, and even online calls. 

Keep it casual as people introduce themselves and create connections, this will save time in the long run as they will start to trust each other earlier.

Create team spirit by starting team traditions

From Taco Tuesdays to pre-town hall huddles, start a tradition that will help members to feel part of a campaign that is unique and has a personality. 

Make people feel part of a club

Avoid setting up red tape and keep everyone in the loop. Make sure that your core team members and the wider network treat each other as equals no matter their time or effort commitment. 

Maintain a friendly environment

Campaigns days are long and stressful. Set expectations for team behavior from the start and keep gossip at bay. A team in which every member trusts each other is a team that can work better in collaboration. Above all, make sure team members stay professional and take a break when they need to.

Keep communication open and honest

Make sure campaign news reach the team from you rather than other sources. Stay true to the campaign principles and create an honest environment. 

Promote commitment

Hold everyone accountable, track task progress, and review performance. Setup result expectations early on and reward efficiency. Be open to mistakes, and facilitate the creation of contingency plans before they happen.

Walk the talk

Make sure to engage with your network and participate in the little activities that make the campaign be successful such as canvassing, cold-calling, and voter registration. If you set up a rule, follow it yourself – and do not allow exceptions.

Appoint a substitute team leader

No matter how committed you are to your candidate and team, train someone to take over your duties if you happen to be unavailable. Delegate all the tasks you can. Overview the general strategy with your campaign team, so they are aware of every key action. Keep a personal exit plan just in case, and create a transition strategy for the campaign team.

Get rid of duds

Be clear about the expectations set for both the core team and network members. Do not allow bad team members contaminate the rest of the team. Gracefully ask bad volunteers to exit the campaign and don’t allow mediocrity to be part of your team for too long. 

How we can help

In 2019, we helped an independent candidate – Ingrida Šimonytė – run a presidential campaign in Lithuania. With just a couple of office managers – but thousands of volunteers – she was able to make her way all the way to the finals.

If you’re looking for a modern software partner for community-minded volunteer management at political campaigns, do not hesitate to book a demo with our team. Alternatively, just create a free project in our grassroots mobilisation app, and get your campaign started today!