Good organization is not only desirable for a political campaign, it is essential. No matter what size campaign you are involved in, time and money are limited, and without good organization your staff and volunteers will burn out, crucial items will fall through the cracks, and momentum will falter.
Smaller campaigns, in particular, have a difficult time staying organized because these are the campaigns that most often have to rely on volunteers for almost all campaign positions, from event captain to campaign manager. Because staying organized is so very essential to your campaign’s success, it is important that you think about how to best keep your campaign organized, even before you begin campaigning. Here are four great strategies for keeping your campaign organized and on track:
Planning is the first and foremost tactic your campaign needs to stay organized. Without proper planning, your campaign is just a “guess,” and your success is only luck. Every aspect of your campaign should be planned before it is implemented, from strategy to fundraising to grassroots and press relations.
Running a campaign is similar to running a business – in order to succeed, you have to know where you are going and how you want to get there. During the heat of the election, you will be too busy to map out strategy and tactics – instead, you will rely on the plan you created to determine the next course of action. Of course, because campaigns are always changing, your plan is a fluid document. It will, however, provide a great foundation for all of your efforts.
Political candidates are usually poor delegators. The same talents and ambition that make them great political candidates also make them want to be in control of the campaign and take care of as much of the work as possible to “make sure it is done right.” In order to succeed in modern campaigns, candidates, consultants, campaign managers and staff need to learn how to delegate.
Delegating tasks doesn’t mean abandoning them and hoping someone else will do them right. What it does mean is finding good people to work on your campaign, whether they are staff or volunteers, and trusting them to accomplish a set goal you set for them. Of course, a good campaign manager will constantly check in with subordinates to review progress and offer help when needed. In order to be organized, your senior campaign staff simply must learn how to delegate tasks.
Create a Timeline
After writing your campaign plan, create a campaign timeline or calendar listing the key tasks that must be accomplished and the dates they must be accomplished by. Give this thumbnail sketch of your campaign timeline to each member of your team so they can see where the tasks they are working on fit in to the overall campaign calendar. Also, make sure that one (and only one) person is responsible for maintaining the campaign calendar and that everyone on your team knows to contact that person to add or delete campaign events.
Make it Easy for Your Volunteers
Many, if not most state and local campaigns are volunteer-driven. That is, with the exception of a few key staff members, most local campaigns rely heavily on volunteers to carry out the necessary tasks to win the election. In order to effectively organize your volunteers and help them succeed, your campaign should make it easy for them to do what it is you want them to do. This means setting a clear goal for them and helping them achieve it.
The best way to keep a volunteer on task and motivated is to give him or her a goal – be it making 200 phone calls or finding 50 people who will put up yard signs – and helping them achieve that goal. In order to help them achieve their goals, you have to make it easy for them. Give your volunteers complete “volunteer packets” that contain everything they need to get started. Check in often, hold meetings occasionally, reward performers and help stragglers. Your volunteers will go to great lengths to help you, if you go to great lengths to make it easy for them.
Keeping a campaign organized is no easy task, no matter how small the campaign may be. Because organization is crucial, be sure to plan for it. Delegate where possible, and make it as easy as possible for your volunteers to do their jobs and reach their goals. By planning for organization, your campaign will be ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.