How to Integrate and Onboard Campaign Volunteers

Every year, tens of millions of Americans formally volunteer for a wide array of positions and causes. As recently as 2021, a peak in American volunteerism was reached, with nearly one out of four people (60.7 million people) getting involved. 

It’s only natural, in response to such a large turnout, to want to tap into the valuable resource that is volunteerism and effectively mobilize people for your cause. But in order to do so, you need a seamless onboarding process. A well-structured workflow will not only ensure that volunteers feel valued and prepared but also maximize their contributions to the campaign. 

With that in mind, here is a comprehensive set of steps on how to integrate and onboarding volunteers into your campaign:

Develop a Welcoming Onboarding Process

First impressions matter, so from day one, you need to make volunteers feel valued, appreciated, and like bona fide parts of your team. That involves a welcoming and informative introduction, which can include an orientation packet or welcome email detailing your goals, history, and how the new member can make a difference. 

With the right approach, you can turn newcomers into long-time supporters and staples of your campaign team. 

Organize Orientation Sessions

Becoming a campaign volunteer can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience all at once. But that’s where orientation sessions play a pivotal role, providing newcomers with the knowledge and resources they need to be effective. 

These sessions can be held in person or virtually and should cover your expectations along with your big-picture strategy. They also represent a great opportunity to introduce key team members and allow participants to ask questions. 

If you are offering an in-person session, in particular, don’t forget the little things, like having coffee on hand or providing lunch. These small actions will go a long way in making the entire experience positive and more enjoyable. 

Provide Comprehensive Training

After welcoming your new volunteers and getting them up to speed on the basics of your organization, offer tailored training and education to help them perform their roles to the fullest. For example, you can offer basic educational sessions to individuals who will be door-knocking or handing out flyers. Cover safety tips, how to respect the privacy of others, and how they should represent the campaign.

If an individual has a more dynamic role, ensure they know how to use your software, phone systems, and any other tools you provide. Most of all, make sure that the training you provide is engaging and interactive in order to improve retention. 

Assign Mentors or Buddies

Pairing new volunteers with experienced team members can significantly enhance the onboarding experience. Mentors or buddies can provide guidance, answer questions, and offer support as new members navigate their tasks. That kind of peer support system not only helps with skill development but also fosters a sense of community and belonging.

However, it’s best to try to avoid matching people based on their roles and traits. Create pairings that complement one another. For example, if one of your new members is very knowledgeable about campaign issues but somewhat introverted, team them up with a sociable person. 

Set Clear Expectations

While you want a strong volunteer force, it’s important to ensure that members are a good fit for your campaign and its mission. 

As such, you must clearly outline what you expect from your new volunteers in terms of time commitment, responsibilities, and conduct. Explain that they are ambassadors for the candidate they are supporting and that their behavior can, in turn, influence public perception of the person running for office.

Provide the Necessary Tools and Resources

Ensure that members have access to all of the tools and resources they need to perform their tasks effectively, such as:

  • Access to campaign software
  • Materials for canvassing
  • Guides for making phone calls

Additionally, provide your volunteers with basic amenities like water and snacks. If they are going to be working long shifts, give them an opportunity to take breaks as well. Respecting their limitations can help reduce burnout and retain their support for the long haul. 

Foster a Culture of Appreciation

Take a moment to recognize the contributions of your volunteer staff from time to time. Simple gestures like thank-you notes, recognition in campaign updates, or appreciation events can go a long way in making people feel valued. And if your initiative earns a major victory, such as getting a bill passed or winning a primary, do something more significant to recognize the people behind the scenes, like holding a luncheon. 

Facilitate Communication and Feedback

Maintain open lines of communication with your team members. Provide regular updates about campaign progress, upcoming events, and new opportunities to keep everyone engaged and informed. 

Additionally, give participants a chance to provide feedback about their experience. That kind of information can help you identify areas for improvement in both the onboarding process and beyond. 

Encourage Social Interaction

Campaigns are more enjoyable and rewarding when the volunteers behind them have the opportunity to form social connections with others. Encourage these bonds by organizing meet-ups, online forums, or events where team members can share experiences and build camaraderie. 

Also, keep track of each person’s progress and check in regularly to offer support. Being proactive in providing support will nurture a sense of loyalty toward your campaign and cause. 

Modernize Your Campaign With Aristotle

Whether you need to connect with new volunteers or empower your existing team with modern technology, Aristotle can help. As a leader in political data and campaign solutions, we provide our partners with the software and knowledge they need to thrive. Our information database includes millions of consumer, voter, and relocation files. 

If you would like to learn more about our expansive database and suite of tech tools, schedule a demo with Aristotle today.


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