You don't need an army. But you do need some troops.
Every candidate is responsible for their own campaign. The party can help you connect with volunteers and promote your candidacy and fundraising activities, but we are not running your campaign for you.
Canvassing will be your most important activity for the next nine months. You can't physically cover your universe by yourself, so you need at least two or three steady volunteers who can work with you nearly every week. More is obviously better.
Prospecting for volunteers
- Central Committee meetings and District meetings
- Precinct Committeeman list
- Friends and neighbors
- Affinity groups
- Other candidates
- Friends/family who can commit to at least 4 hours per week.
- Precinct Committeemen should commit to canvassing their precinct for you at least once.
- Always work with your District Chair to coordinate canvass activities.
- Use your first fundraiser or campaign kickoff event to recruit volunteers. People who give you money are much more likely to volunteer. They have invested in your success.
- Make sure your volunteers know your 30-second elevator pitch. They don't need to know every detail of your platform, just the basics.
- By far the most important activity for your volunteers will be canvassing.
- Volunteers who can’t or won’t walk can often be enlisted to phone bank.
- You will also need help with yard sign placement (including retrieval after the election).
- Envelope stuffing and other clerical tasks are a waste of time for most volunteers.
- Your best volunteers will be personal friends. Two or three good, steady volunteers can be enough.
- Precinct Committeemen are highly variable in ability and availability. They are getting asks from many candidates.
- Treat your volunteers like royalty. Reward them after each activity. Thank them at least three times for each activity.
Getting a commitment
- Setting your canvassing calendar is step one. Work backward from the beginning of early voting for the general election, and determine how many hours of canvassing it will take to cover your universe of voters (more on universes later).
- Ask your volunteers for a weekly commitment. It should be a minimum of four hours per event. Four hours every other week is far better than two hours every week.
- Don't expect your volunteers to work harder than you do. Lead by example.
- Once you have a commitment, send reminders by email or phone on a regular schedule to ensure follow-through.
- Make it a priority to get your activity calendar filled up as soon as possible.
- Don't waste volunteers’ time. Be ready to start as soon as the volunteers show up. Have a plan and goals for each volunteer.
- Inspire confidence in your volunteers by giving them clear instructions.
- Make sure you have all the canvassing supplies you need, including literature, walk sheets, pens, and water.
- Know the precinct before you start canvassing with your volunteers.
- Volunteers do talk. If they enjoy working with you, they will recruit their friends to help.
- This is hard work, but it doesn't have to be drudgery.