It can sneak up on you: you file some paperwork, shake a few hands, and then suddenly realize that the task of running for office is actually a lot bigger than you expected.
If you are balancing a family, job, and social life while running for office, you are probably going to need a bit of extra help. Below is an outline some of the most common campaign positions, but if you are running for a local office, you can run a successful campaign with some part-time help that covers all the same bases that a large campaign with professional staff need to manage. But, big or small, it is good to have a general understanding of each major role in a campaign.
This group is different from your Kitchen Cabinet or Board of Directors. These are the people who will actively work for your organization each and every day.
So, who are these people and how do you find them?
This is probably the best known and most important position on a political campaign - and for good reason. The campaign manager is the CEO of the campaign and is tasked with coordinating the activities of all other people on the campaign. In addition, on smaller campaigns, the campaign manager often handles the role of Finance Director, Field Director, Communications Director, Policy Advisor, Events Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, or even Intern at any given moment.
Even on a local race, it is in your best interest to consider bringing on a Campaign Manager, even if it is on a volunteer or part-time basis. This will free you up to focus more on shaking hands and attending events.
As you might guess, the Finance Director handles the financial aspects of your campaign. They prepare financial reports and maintain records, are often tasked with putting together donor lists, and following up with those that have pledged to make a donation but have not actually contributed. The Finance Director is arguably the most important position behind the Manager, because the Finance Director gives you the money to fund the rest of your campaign.
Many smaller level campaigns get by by combining the Campaign Manager or Finance Director positions. In these cases, and even larger campaigns, FundHero is here to help! FundHero provides your campaign with the tools it needs to ensure that your campaign is effectively fundraising and reporting campaign contributions. With FundHero you spend less time doing paperwork and more time doing what you need to do to win!
How are you supposed to shake hands and kiss babies if you don’t know where they are?! The Field Director can wear many hats on small to mid-sized campaigns including event planning, volunteer recruitment, and, most importantly, planning and staffing general or specific grassroots campaigning such as knocking on doors and phone banking.
On any given day you can only talk to so many people, and as great as one-on-one communication is, there are plenty of people you are not reaching with your message if this is your only campaign tactic. The role of “comms” is to help you craft and refine your message and communicate with voters through both traditional and digital media. This individual also oversees organic social media efforts, your website, and any press or media related activities. He or she will also work closely with the campaign manager on any paid media efforts.
Most people run for office because they are passionate about one or two specific topics - and that is great; the problem is that the voter may not share the same passion for your issues. A good Policy Advisor helps you broaden your support by helping you learn more about the issues that are affecting your voters, provides current or potential policies that address those issues, and explores the practicality of the ideas you as a candidate come up with.
Generally speaking, you can’t just walk into an event, set up a table, start asking for money, and shake hands without first getting approval from someone somewhere. Your Events Coordinator is tasked with making these connections and getting a confirmation for you to actually arrive at an event. The Events Coordinator will often work hand in hand with the Volunteer Coordinator to ensure that tables are staffed with volunteers at as many places as possible.
On most campaigns you will have a few diehard volunteers that will show up whenever you call...but even your strongest supporters often need the motivation to show up to any particular activity. Your Volunteer Coordinator is tasked with identifying new volunteers and slotting those volunteers into whatever job the campaign needs doing at that particular moment.
If your intern is only fetching coffee for you, you aren’t using them effectively. Yes, the intern does do the odd task such as filing paperwork, running things out to volunteers during a walk, and picking up donuts - but an intern, used correctly, can do much more. Interns are there because they have a passion for politics/campaigns and are eager to learn; because of this, you should try to place your interns with all of the above-mentioned positions in order to help them learn the ropes. When you do this they can act as a valuable go-between for information in the office and, heck, you might just be training your future Campaign Manager.
Where Do I Find These People?
So, now you know who you need, but you haven’t the foggiest idea where to find them.
Campaign work is professional work and people build reputations over time that can be either positive or negative. Speak to other, more experienced campaigners and your political party to receive suggestions for key staffers. Once you have a list of names, it is okay to reach out to individuals, grab a cup of coffee with them, and see if they are a good fit for your campaign.
Meanwhile, interns can be found by reaching out to colleges, if they have a political science program and organizations such as your local chapter of the Young Democrats or Young Republicans can often be fruitful too.
In the end, a good staff will allow you to focus on being the best candidate possible. Choose wisely and you will be one step closer to victory.