Campaigns, PACs, and political advocacy groups need to know how to effectively find, recruit, and utilize volunteers. It could be the difference between winning or losing an election. In this article, you will find an overview of the best practices for recruiting volunteers for a political campaign or grassroots advocacy organization.
Best Practices for Recruiting, Utilizing, and Managing Volunteers
1. Know Your Volunteering Needs and Capacity
As a starting point, it is crucial that you take time to review your campaign/organizational goals, position, and available resources so that you understand the scope of your volunteering needs and your capacity to take on volunteers. Organizing volunteers is complicated. It is even more challenging when you are trying to organize without a full understanding of what needs to get done.
As an example, imagine that you are running a statewide election campaign. In developing a plan for recruiting volunteers, you need to keep geographic considerations in mind. Where do the voters you want to engage live? Do you have volunteers from all of the communities? Are there areas where you are struggling to engage potential voters and/or volunteers? Make sure you know.
2. Work With the Community and Provide a Clear Purpose
Many people are interested in volunteering for campaigns and political advocacy organizations. At the same time, people are very busy and their time is precious. Far fewer are interested in volunteering for a campaign/organization that feels “far away” or “sterile.” They want to know that the campaign has actually made connections within their local community. Even a major national campaign—such as presidential campaigns— can make local connections with the right approach.
Additionally, people are reluctant to volunteer their time if they feel like it is not actually going to make a difference. They need a clear purpose. In recruiting volunteers for campaign or political advocacy push, it is crucial that you people have a clear purpose. The purpose can and should come from two different levels:
- The Greater Project: Make sure volunteers always know why your campaign is important to them and their community.
- The Individual Difference: Potential volunteers must understand why giving up their personal time will actually make a difference.
3. Know How to Locate and Engage Potential Volunteers
Knowing how to locate and engage potential volunteers is one of the most important aspects of effective recruiting. Once again, this often starts with community connection. People who you have already engaged in a local community can often connect with other people who share similar values and may be interested in volunteering. You may also be able to locate volunteers through a strategic approach that finds leads. Political data, including things like donor data and consumer data, can be useful in identifying and engaging potential volunteers.
4. Make it Easy for Interested People to Join
A passionate volunteer is a valuable resource. The absolute last thing any campaign, PAC, or grassroots organization wants is for a potential volunteer to get frustrated and give up because they are having a hard time joining the team. There should be a comprehensive, carefully-considered plan in place that makes it as easy as possible for interested people to join the team and get started making a difference.
5. Set Expectations and Give Recognition
Did you know that a significant percentage of people who volunteer for an election campaign or other political organization only do so a few times before stopping? There is certainly nothing wrong with this. The contributions made by a one-time or short-term volunteer can still make a major difference. That being said, too many campaigns lose their volunteers prematurely because they do not have the right management system in place. Here are two key things to keep in mind that will help your campaign retain volunteers:
- Set Clear and Attainable Expectations: Volunteers do not want to spend their time standing around, waiting for instructions. Make sure volunteers understand what they are supposed to be doing and why it matters.
- Give Recognition: Recognition matters. Volunteers are far more likely to stay engaged with a campaign when they are being properly credited and recognized for their hard work.
6. Ensure Full Compliance
Finally, it is imperative that campaigns and advocacy groups ensure that their volunteering practices are in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. As explained by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), “volunteer activity is not reportable” as long as no contribution is made and no compensation is provided. Anyone can join your campaign as a volunteer and donate as much time as they want. That being said, if in-kind donations are being made, be sure that your campaign follows all reporting requirements.
Aristotle Is the Leader in Political Consulting, Data and Technology Services
We understand the importance of volunteers. Our team can help PACs, and grassroots advocacy groups better recruit and utilize volunteers. Not only do you need to be able to engage the community and find the right volunteers, it is imperative that you give your volunteers the tools that they need to succeed. With the right plan and technology in place, your campaign or organization will be in the best position to get the most out of the contributions of the passionate volunteers who support your cause and want to do what they can to help.
Founded nearly four decades ago, Aristotle is a proven leader in non-partisan political consulting, comprehensive data, expert compliance and leading-edge technology for campaigns as well as PAC and advocacy organizations. To find out more about our services, please call us now or contact us today.