The backbone of any local campaign is its volunteers. After recruiting a volunteer coordinator, the campaign should set its sights on recruiting capable volunteers — people who are loyal, interested, willing to work hard, and able to successfully perform the tasks they are assigned. Listed below (in no particular order) are the top 8 sources for volunteers to staff your local campaign. Some you may have heard of, others not, but all should be mined for members of your volunteer army.
1. Family and Friends
No one knows the candidate better than his or her family and friends, and they should be the first source of local campaign volunteers. These individuals are typically easy to recruit, loyal to the candidate, and willing to work hard.
2. College Students
One of the best and often overlooked sources for campaign volunteers is at your local college or university. Political Science majors are usually eager to get real political experience — students with other helpful majors, such as Journalism, History, Information Technology, etc. are also quality potential volunteers. School political science departments, student governments, and political clubs can serve as easy points of contact.
3. Association Members
Is the candidate an active member of any civic, community, church, or other group? If so, members of those groups may be willing to spend their free time working on the campaign. Members of such organizations are often knowledgeable about local issues, and have large networks of civic-minded acquaintances.
4. Local Political Parties
Your local political party may be able to provide you with names of people who have volunteered in the past, or who have asked to volunteer for this election. Check with party leaders to see if such lists are available.
5. Unsolicited Offers
Few people will call a campaign or stop a candidate on the street and ask to donate money. But many campaigns are surprised by how many people offer to volunteer their time and talents to the campaign without being asked. Be prepared for unsolicited offers to volunteer: always carry small, pre-printed cards for potential volunteers to fill out, and make sure to follow up and involve them in the campaign.
6. Volunteer Networks
Campaigns can also utilize the friends and families of the existing volunteer corps. Ask your volunteers to recruit their own friends and family to help with the race, and provide a creative opportunity for them to do so: hold a pizza party for volunteers and ask them to bring their interested friends, have volunteers who aren’t busy call their friends from campaign headquarters to ask them to join, etc.
7. Campaign Events
After asking for votes and/or donations at campaign events, the campaign should ask anyone interested in volunteering to fill out an information card. This recruitment can be done at all kinds of events: the kick-off rally, fundraising functions, coffees, etc. If such a solicitation threatens to detract from the main purpose of the event, the recruitment can take place on the way out, by placing tables or staff at the back of the event.
8. Paid “Volunteers”
Most campaigns utilize a small paid staff as the core of the campaign, and use volunteers for work such as literature drops and phone banks. Sometimes, however, the campaign simply does not have enough qualified volunteers to perform the tasks it needs to get done, and must hire college students, senior citizens, or others to perform the work usually done by volunteers. Such workers are usually paid by the hour and are most often utilized for election day get-out-the-vote efforts. If the campaign decides that it must use “paid volunteers,” it should make sure that their work is carefully supervised, to ensure that the work that the “volunteers” are paid to do is actually completed.
Is your campaign fully staffed? Find out by reading Five Team Members Every Campaign Needs.