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How to ask for (and accept) help on your political campaign

Asking for help has become a hot topic in recent years, drawing attention to the fact that most women don’t ask for help when she needs it, and that is especially true when running for political office. Not only is it reasonable to ask for help, it is essential if your political campaign is going to be successful. But, often the thing that prevents us from asking is not knowing where to start, so we’ve created two things to do and one not to do to get you ready to ask for help on your campaign.

Step 1: Make a list of roles

On political campaigns there are always supporters eager to help. They give you open-ended offers or sign up on your website form, but before you can put them to work, you need to have a job for them to do. Trust us, it will save you more time later if you spend the time today creating roles or jobs that others can take off your plate. On your campaign you will likely have the traditional “knock on doors” and “make phone calls” but you can also include things like yard sign delivery or making a list of community events in your district. These are small tasks that are taking you away from the tasks that only the candidate can do, like fundraising calls. When making this list, it is critical that you think about each role and make sure that it specific and actionable. It’s easy to delegate broad tasks, like “volunteer coordinator” but your volunteer may not know how to get started, so adding tasks like “contact list of volunteers and schedule for upcoming walk” to the title will make them easier for volunteers to get done.

Step 2: Make a plan for getting your volunteers working

Once you have your list or roles, you need to spend some time thinking about how you will get your volunteers trained and working. For each role, write yourself a list of things you’ll either need to do or teach to get your volunteer started. By creating this list now, when you have a new volunteer join the team, you’ll be ready to get them to work because the organizing is already done. There is nothing worse than having a list of interested volunteers but no time to get them organized and put to work! For those knocking on doors or making phone calls, your plan should include how and when they get their lists and walk cards so they don’t fall through the cracks waiting for supplies. For other tasks like developing a community calendar, you might need to have some examples of the types of events you’re looking for and publications where they can be found.

Step 3: Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good

The final thing to do before you start recruiting volunteers is to remind yourself that they are going to do things differently than you think they should be done, but don’t discount the good they are doing for you and your campaign just because it is not the perfect you strive for. Many tasks on the campaign just need to be done and are taking you away from tasks that only you can do. There is no need to micromanage whether a door knocker starts on the right side of the street or the left, just that your cards are left on the assigned doors. Take another look at your list of roles and your training plan and tell yourself that you’re going to appreciate the effort put in by your volunteers, and if there’s any task on that list that must be completed a certain way, that task may be better suited for you or a paid team member to complete.

Asking for help is a habit and skill like any others, and it takes practice to master it. If you start asking for help in the early months of your campaign, both your volunteers and your systems will be well equipped for the busy months that count right before the election.

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