Question: Where should I start looking for volunteers?

Are any places (churches, community centers) better than others? How much can I trust volunteers I find online?

Asked on August 11th, 2011 at 10:09 p.m. CDT (3 years, 6 months ago)


Start by making a list of all the things you need volunteers for and be creative, e.g. voter contact, house parties, event volunteers, write op-eds, office greeters or managers. Then make a list of all the people you know and the organizations you belong to. The list should be very inclusive - don’t leave anyone out. Having a personal relationship will make it much more likely that those folks will support your campaign. Some of them may not be as comfortable with political activism, so ease them in a little bit. Everyone has something to contribute and you’re going to need volunteers to do all sorts of things.

After you go through this list, you should start brainstorming organizations who are likely to support you based on the issues you are advocating for, e.g. local Democratic Party and Clubs, NAACP chapters, Chambers of Commerce, Veterans Associations, Labor unions. Don’t forget young people! There might be an active Young Democrats group and colleges have all sorts of progressive groups, e.g. College Democrats, Campus Progress, Young People for the American Way. And don’t forget high schools. These are often overlooked because school districts have varying comfort with political activity, so be sure to frame your pitch more toward “civic engagement” rather than partisan political activism.

You should also have volunteer sign-up on your campaign website, and you should leverage social media like Facebook and Twitter. Also, don’t forget to leverage the networks of all your volunteers as well. One great way to do this is to ask them to throw house parties and invite their network of friends and acquaintances. This is just a start.

Also, don’t be disheartened if some volunteers do not follow through on their commitments. We call these flakes, and from experience flake rates range from 40% - 60%. Try to minimize flake rates by calling (or emailing if you don’t have their ph. numbers) volunteers the day before the activity they committed to do. This is a must. Hope this helps.

Answer from Juan C., August 15, 2011 at 8:22 p.m. CDT (3 years, 6 months ago)

Great thoughts from Juan, especially about reaching out to young people. Once you have an initial base, talk to them and ask where they are spending their time in the community. Libraries, bookstores, bulletin boards at coffee shops and restaurants, farmers’ markets and local places of worship can be great places to find volunteers. Also, another great way to minimize flake rates is to give people small responsibilities (bringing cups for drinks or picking up another volunteer), and then increase as they get more involved.

Answer from Carter, August 16, 2011 at 11:15 a.m. CDT (3 years, 6 months ago)

Start where you are! Begin by reaching out to those who are most invested in the campaign — the candidate’s family and social network, as well as your own list of friends, families and acquaintances. Begin by asking them to host a housemeeting for the campaign by inviting their friends and family to learn about the strategy & how they can become involved. Try to recruit at least 2 volunteer housemeeting hosts from each housemeeting and sign other participants up for volunteer shifts. Systematically tapping into social networks is the quickest way to build a tested volunteer base on the campaign and it helps to take advantage of early phases of the campaign when it’s too early to contact voters. A 6 week housemeeting program is a great way to build a serious base of volunteers who can then be deployed to talk to voters or recruit more volunteers. Lots of good resources available to help you do this. Good luck!

Answer from Hicks, August 16, 2011 at 2:47 p.m. CDT (3 years, 6 months ago)

These are all great points. Volunteers are obviously critical, especially if you plan on running a strong ground campaign and can mean the difference come GOTV and election day. Not much to add here, other than to echo that relying on people with whom you have a personal relationship is a great first step. Also, young people have lots of energy, but in my experience they also have a higher flake rate. Don’t discount seniors - they are often eager to help in any way they can. They may not knock on doors, but they will often make calls, watch polls, and perform other necessary tasks to help the campaign along. If you meet a voter who is very possible, ask him/her if she’d like to help out the campaign. Oftentimes people just need to be asked - of course, if you do ask, make sure you have actionable tasks ready to go. A campaign that appears disorganized may turn a super positive voter into an undecided or worse.

Answer from Platkin, August 23, 2011 at 8:17 a.m. CDT (3 years, 6 months ago)

All good answers. I wanted to pile on on the house party theme: I’ve found the best volunteer recruitment is on callbacks from house parties. For that to happen, obviously, you need a strong sign-in list. Make sure the host of the party introduces you (or the candidate, if their there) before you begin speaking, and in their intro mention how, if the people like what you have to say, they can and should get involved by doing something as easy as what they (the host) are doing right now: having a house party (or walk or call or write or donate or etc etc)! You give your pitch, you make a volunteer ask at the end, and THEN, the critical step, is to make sure you call each and every attendee within the next 2-3 days to say how nice it was to meet them, did they like what they heard, and then make your vol ask. I’ve had the best luck that way.

Answer from Riley S., October 15, 2011 at 1:16 a.m. CDT (3 years, 4 months ago)

I have already collected so many signatures, and sent them to Congress, the Senate, on Recall votes, they do nothing.Get accepted in your communities for your value’s and commitment, then and only then will you be recognized as real contender’s for a political office.

Answer from David G., December 15, 2011 at 12:52 a.m. CST (3 years, 2 months ago)

I’ll say this again, don’t try to trick people they are too aware of what’s Happening after 40 year’s of the Bush Family Corruption, Collusion, and Treachery, just be Honest, State your Opinion’s pick a side and see where the votes end up.

Answer from David G., December 15, 2011 at 12:58 a.m. CST (3 years, 2 months ago)