Starting a Campaign: What Every Staffer Should Know

by Ben Holse (He/Him)

campaign staff

Tips for Starting A Campaign

Starting a campaign is a huge challenge and will prove to be much different than any other job you've ever had. It is hard work and you don’t get to clock out like you would a regular 9 – 5. Starting a campaign means being fully committed and putting the rest of your life on hold. Below are a few other things that every staffer should know before starting a campaign.


Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise

Fundraising is absolutely critical to any campaign. Depending on the size of the race and your role on the campaign staff, you may have varying levels of access to the fundraising operation. Recognize that the candidate’s primary objective of any campaign is to raise money and talk to voters. If your campaign staff isn’t raising money, there won’t be any funds for paid communication and you won’t get paid.

Even if you lose, you win

Political campaigns are a zero sum game. There is always a winner and there is always a loser—that’s just the way it goes. However, it’s important to recognize that even if you are on the losing side, the experience that you gained in the campaign is still valuable. You shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; all of the skills you have learned on a losing campaign can be applied to other future campaigns. You won’t be looked at unfavorably for future employment opportunities if you are on a losing campaign.

It will be over before you know it

As a campaign staffer, the long hours and unreasonable work expectations can seem never-ending. In reality, the campaign will be over before you know it. If you lose by only 20 votes, you don’t want to look back on your experience and think you could have knocked those 21 other doors and potentially won the election.  While you may be able to procrastinate in a regular job, campaigns do not give you that option. You have a very finite amount of time to get everything done, so use your time wisely.

Prioritize to win

As mentioned above, there will be an unreasonable amount of expectations on any given campaign. Before you start the day, take a look at the list of work you have to accomplish and develop a plan for getting it done. Unless you prioritize and delegate tasks, you will not get everything accomplished. Don’t be afraid to utilize interns or volunteers—they’re here to help. At the end of the day, the most valuable staffer on any campaign is always the one that is most efficient, not the one who does the most work themselves.

Have other advice for those starting off on the campaign trail? Share it below.