I often hear something like this from the people I talk to who are planning to run for local office: “I’m running a small campaign, I could probably do all of this myself.”
On a small race, the candidate’s first job should be engaging voters, followed by fundraising, interviews, and meet-and-greets.
A candidate who tries to take everything on personally is throwing away the campaign’s most valuable resource (your time). That’s why I recommend that all candidates — no matter how small the race — have a campaign manager or a small campaign committee to help with these organizational tasks.
“But I don’t have any money to spend on a campaign manager!” No problem. You just need someone who cares about your race enough to help. Here are some suggestions.
- Involve your networks. You don’t have to pay big bucks to pay a professional to manage your campaign. Your friends and relatives are probably supporting you, ask them to take a bigger role. It makes a huge difference just having someone to help you keep track of important dates (filing deadlines, absentee voting deadlines, local events, etc.), manage volunteers, and organize voter outreach such as phone banks and canvassing.
- “Snowflake” your campaign. You may not have one person who’s able to coordinate the whole show. In that case, ask individuals to take on responsibility for one thing. Data, managing your calendar, hosting phone banks, planning events, and the other elements of a campaign are great responsibilities to give to people who want to help and have shown they can be trusted.
While a candidate probably feels compelled to help out with the behind the scenes stuff, every minute spent staring at spreadsheets is a minute not spent talking to voters, raising money, or giving interviews. Save your time for interacting with people, and recruit others to help you manage the details.
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Melissa Varga, former Candidate Outreach Manager with the Candidate Project at New Organizing Institute (NOI). NOI trains organizers to build and manage effective movements by integrating tried-and-true community organizing, cutting-edge digital strategy, and data-driven decision making. NOI provide free access to revolutionary tools, technologies, and research to help campaigns reach the next level.