Although a greater share of political organizing and political activity is happening in digital spaces, nothing compares to an in-person political event. These events remain one of the most effective ways for candidates and advocacy groups to get their message out there through building personal connections. In this article, you will find an overview of seven actionable tips for planning a political event.
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1. Know Your Objectives: Create Clear and Concrete Goals
Why are you planning a political event? It is the single most important question that you and your team need to ask yourself when you are getting started. The most effective political events have clear and concrete goals. On the other hand, sloppy and ineffective political events often lack a cogent purpose. There are a lot of different reasons to organize a political event. You may want to try to raise more money by identifying and engaging potential donors. Alternatively, you may want to find a way to get your message directly in front of members of a particular community. Regardless, it is important to have clear objectives.
2. Put an Emphasis on the Logistics
Logistics matter. Political event planning can be a complicated endeavor. It is about far more than simply showing up and talking to people. The logistics—which are often unseen by the attendees—are what make or break a political event. Your campaign or advocacy organization must put a strong emphasis on the logistics. Among other things, key issues that should be considered include:
- The nature of the event;
- The venue for the event;
- The likely crowd size;
- The schedule for what will occur during the event; and
- An actionable plan to use the event to achieve a goal.
Too many political events have fallen apart in the planning stage due to inadequate attention to logistics. The bottom line is that if you get the logistics right, it makes the entire political event planning process far less challenging.
3. Determine the Appropriate Budget for the Political Event
It’s no secret that organizing and managing a political event is not free. There are going to be costs associated with the political event. You must sit down and make an appropriate budget on the front end. Spending too much or too little on a political event could prove to be a huge mistake. You need to know what it is going to cost to pull off the event that your campaign or organization is planning. Here are three key things to keep in mind when budgeting for an event:
- Consider how much is going to have to come from your existing financial resources;
- Consider how much additional funds you will need to raise specifically for the event; and
- Develop a projected return on investment (ROI) for the event given the costs and your goals.
4. Organize the Key Administrative Details
Once the basic logistics are worked out and a preliminary budget has been developed, it is time to get deeper into the administrative details of the political event. Effective political event planning is a detail-focused task. Campaigns and political groups need to work out all of the administrative details when setting up their event. Among other things, key administrative matters include:
- Contracts with the venue, suppliers, and other vendors;
- Branding and other decor;
- Insurance coverage (if necessary); and
- Accommodations for staff and volunteers.
5. Try to Get Sponsors On Board With the Event
A political event is an opportunity to develop relationships. A campaign or advocacy group may want to try to get sponsors on board for their event. A sponsor could come forward to help fund and promote your political event. Notably, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has specific legal regulations in place for the sponsoring of events and programs. SSFs and other political action committees (PACs) can sponsor events as long as specific legal requirements are met.
6. Recruit Volunteers to Help With the Event
Volunteers matter. For the most part, it is the volunteers that make political events work. As you are organizing a political event for an election campaign, ballot measure, or political advocacy initiative, it is important to engage and recruit volunteers. Effective volunteer recruitment is useful in several different ways. To start, the more volunteers you have, the easier it will be to organize a successful political event without going over your budget. Another key advantage of volunteers is that they often bring people along with them—whether as attendees or as fellow volunteers. Political event organizers should emphasize recruiting and engaging volunteers. As a follow-up, it is important to show volunteers gratitude for their contributions.
7. Develop a Plan to Promote the Political Event
Imagine the following scenario: A candidate for United States Congress has planned a political event to help identify and engage small donors. The event is well-planned. There are clear goals, there is a great event space, there is a budget developed, a few sponsors have come forward, and volunteers are helping to pull off the event.
The day of the event comes and very few people show up. What went wrong? There is a good chance that the political event was not properly promoted. The most well-planned political event in the world will not be effective if no one knows about it. Make sure you have a comprehensive strategy to promote your political event to your target audience.
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