Volunteers are an essential part of most political campaigns. Yet far too many candidates get disappointed and frustrated with their volunteers, feeling as if much of the work that was promised by supporters never gets done. This is unfortunate because, when utilized correctly, your volunteers can provide amazing benefits for your campaign.
The first step in successfully using volunteers is to find the right people to put on your team. For more on how to do that, read How to Find Amazing Volunteers and Use Them to Win Your Election.
The second step, after the finding the right volunteers, is to train your volunteer team so that they are able to be effective campaigners. For more on how to do that, read How to Train Your Political Volunteers.
There are several other things you can be doing in your campaign to help make sure that your volunteers are successful. Here are 3 tips to help you better utilize volunteers to help you win your next election:
#1 – Identify and Promote Superstar Volunteers
No matter how small or large your volunteer workforce is, chances are that a few volunteers will turn out to be “superstars…” people who work hard, have a knack for campaigning, and are smart about how they go about their assigned tasks.
Your campaign team should be on the lookout for these standouts. When you identify a volunteer superstar, consider promoting that person. Exceptional volunteers can be asked to lead volunteer teams, train other volunteers, and to fill roles with the campaign that run-of-the-mill volunteers could not be trusted with.
Promoting your volunteers not only ensures that your best team members are helping to lead your efforts, but it also provides great recognition to hard-working volunteers and motivation to the rest of the group.
#2 – Provide Self-Tracking Tools
One good way to help motivate your volunteer team is to provide them with self-tracking tools that are easy and fun to use. For example, if you are asking a volunteer to knock on 200 doors this week, why not provide them with a street list that has 200 addresses, each with 200 checkboxes. You can include special recognition on the checklist… for example, you can note right on the sheet that after 100 doors the volunteer is halfway there, and after 200 doors the volunteer gets two tickets to your big grassroots barbeque event to thank them for their work.
You can use simple self-tracking tools like this for volunteers making phone calls, placing yard-signs, or any other numbers-based activity.
#3 – Give Your Volunteers Special Access
The best way to inspire your volunteers is to make them feel like an essential part of your campaign team. One good way to do this is by providing your volunteers with special access to campaign events, staff, or the candidate himself.
I once worked on a major campaign that had a very large volunteer organization. Each week, the volunteers who worked in the campaign headquarters were invited to bring a brown-bag lunch and hear from one of the campaign’s senior staff members. The staff member would go over what he or she did for the campaign and answer questions for the volunteers, most of whom were very interested in the political process. In addition, once per month the special guest at the lunch was the candidate, who answered questions and posed for pictures.
Special access opportunities like these build a sense of community and pride among your volunteers and motivate them to continue working hard for your campaign.
Photo Credit: Tony Alter