Project Wonderful

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pro-Tip: Volunteer On a Campaign

(Me with intern and volunteers on my first campaign)

You guuuuuys...I'm Campaign Sick!!! I can't think of one of my friends who is currently working on a candidate campaign. As for me, I'm experiencing the sort of ennui/anxiety combo that I would usually combat by channeling it into voter contact or better yet, bossiness, but due to impending graduate school, I cannot.

I recently remembered something I always promised myself I would do should I find myself in the (un?)fortunate position of no campaign in sight: volunteer!

The benefits of performing volunteer recruitment or voter contact when you don't actually have to are many fold. First, there's the issue of integrity. I believe strongly in the management philosophy that you should never ask someone to do something that you would be unwilling to do yourself. You think volunteering for candidates you care about is so important that you call someone nine times during dinner even though they have little children? Here's your chance to prove it.

Second, there's every field operative's best friend, guilt!(Or phrased more delicately, karma.) I have a strict any-time-your-campaigning-and-I'm-not reciprocation policy with my former colleagues. Even if you think you'll never do volunteer recruitment again, you'll need something from these people in the future and it doesn't hurt to have a little guilt capital in store. It also doesn't hurt to have a reputation that you're a team player, in the very general sense of "team." The more people who recognize your name as someone who has helped them, the better.

Third, and most often overlooked, because it helps. A little birdy once told me that the best way to influence the outcome of an election is by neighbors talking to neighbors...a birdy comprised of me, and every boss or training manual I've ever had. Assuming you care about the candidates and causes you've given your time to in the past, and that you have more free time now, why not donate your time one evening? Every recruitment tactic you've used on others still holds true for you. Do we know that 80 calls probably won't make a difference? Yes. But we also know, better than anyone that if everyone who cared made 80 calls it could dramatically change the shape of an election.

Finally, volunteering ourselves promotes empathy toward our volunteers. As campaign staff, we become so used to our own script and materials that we stare at our volunteers in amazement every time they mess it up. Sure, you're not going to accidentally mark a strong supporter as a 5 or try to dial someone's VANid (yes, a vol did this once) but you will get a feel for what its like to call off a script you don't have memorized, get questions on issues you're not familiar with and accountable only to your conscience. It's hard to motivate yourself to volunteer! Otherwise I wouldn't be writing this blog post.

So, turn inward with your favorite recruitment technique and while you're at it, take me with you! I hereby offer my superlative volunteer recruitment or voter contact services to the first bidder.

Love and Walklists,

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