“All politics is local politics,” long-term Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill was fond of repeating. While in today’s increasingly globalized world, this aphorism is no longer factually true, it is true that voters remain most concerned about the issues that affect them personally and respect endorsements from individuals whose hands they may have shaken.
What this signifies for you if you’re running for office is the importance of building a grassroots organization that relies heavily upon the efforts of local volunteers.
The Importance of Grassroots
Of course, your most effective volunteers will be the family members, friends and business colleagues who already know and believe in you. Don’t be shy about reaching out to this group whether in person or by harnessing the power of social media.
If you didn’t already know your volunteers before your campaign began, try to get to know them. If it’s not possible to interact with them directly, use technologies like Strategic Campaign Group’s Tele-Town Hall to forge the personal relationships that will make your volunteers effective emissaries and evangelists.
Finding volunteers outside your personal network can be a challenge since most people these days live very busy lives. You may want to target college students and retirees at first since members of these two groups typically have fewer specific demands upon their time and will be more available to work with you.
If there are colleges in your area, see if you can speak in front of one of the pre-existing clubs that’s most in line with your agenda. Make sure the club puts notices in all the media outlets available to them about your upcoming talk. Additionally, see if you can also get permission to set up a table on the quad where someone from your organization can hand out campaign literature and recruit volunteers.
Speaking to fraternal organizations can help you network with seniors who may be interested in volunteering for your campaign.
Growing Your Volunteer Organization
Once you’ve recruited a core group of volunteers, your next challenge is to increase that number. One effective way is to ask the members of this core group to recruit a certain number of new volunteers. Throw an event at your campaign headquarters and ask each of your volunteers to invite three people. If you’re not available to network personally, have your highest ranked campaign associate at that site make the rounds and deliver a pitch to each guest individually.