*Originally written by Joe Fuld and updated by Elena Veatch 4/3/18
When you get into politics, it’s hard to resist the all too common tunnel vision of focusing only on politics. But be careful – binge watching Veep or The West Wing is not going to help you run a better campaign or organization; nor will reading solely political books.
The fact is, you are running a business. And while we like to think of politics and business as totally separate realms, it’s tough to run any political operation without a Business 101 crash course. So, take a break from the latest Clinton campaign staffer or Obama aide memoir you are probably reading, and check out some of our non-political book recommendations. Below are ten non-political books that will be helpful to any politico running a campaign, a non-profit, or really any operation.
Learn How to be a Next Level Grassroots Organizer.
The 2018 election cycle is here! Everyone has a renewed spirit of social justice and resistance. Lots of activists are looking for ways to get involved in the new wave of change. Are you thinking about becoming a grassroots organizer?
Cultivate a Grassroots Strategy That Turns Passion Into Action.
Progressives across the country are fired up and ready to resist Trump’s agenda – but does your campaign have a strong grassroots strategy to turn your supporters’ passion into action?
A robust supporter base is crucial to a successful grassroots strategy, but it takes time and effort to build an email list and keep those who opt in engaged. Luckily, tools like ActionSprout are making it easier than ever to accomplish both tasks – below are three ways the tool can help.
Canvassing is special to me. I love knocking on doors. I think it is still a vastly underrated form of communication. Why do I think canvassing is so special? Because of the connection direct contact makes with targeted voters in a personal and systematic way. With any paid medium you need repetition over a condensed period of time.
How Democrats Can Jumpstart Their Campaigns for the Future
Races are heating up, but there are a number of exciting opportunities for Democrats up and down the ticket. Here are some tips to jumpstart your Democratic campaign:
1. Do a thorough self-assessment. Are you ready to run? Does your family support you? Does your community support you? Have you done your politics? These are important questions to ask and know the answer to before you even file to run. If you can confidently answer, “yes” to these questions, you are ready to jumpstart your campaign.
2. Plan, plan, plan! The biggest mistake a candidate can make is failing to create a campaign plan. Your campaign plan should include a vote goal, budget, timeline, and message. Campaigns themselves are living, breathing animals once they heat up, but your campaign plan should pretty much stay the same.
3. Focus on the right stuff. It’s really easy to get caught up in the back and forth of a heated race and allow that to throw you off course. The best Democratic campaigns stay focused on directly communicating their message with targeted voters and turning them out. Period. Everything else is just noise.
4. Do the work. Running for office is hard. Doing what it takes to win is often even harder. Spending hours on the phone, asking for money every single day, is tough. Knocking on every targeted voters door is exhausting. But this is usually what it takes to win. The best way to jumpstart your campaign is to embrace the work and lean into it. You’re probably running because you want to represent your community—use this time to get to know them and ask them to join your campaign.
Advocacy strategies have changed a lot over the last 20 years. When I was a chief of staff in the New York State Legislature, I don't remember there ever being a real advocacy campaign around public support of an issue that focused on legislators. The main way groups moved legislation was to hire a lobbyist and that was really it. There were occasional print ads and lobby days, but day-to-day mass contact from constituents that were driven by member groups were few and far between. Today, we spend a lot of time running advocacy campaigns on the state level. Issue advocacy tactics that were once only used on large, federal issues are now seen on smaller federal issues as well as state and municipal issues.
Political Consulting Advice: Focus on People, Time, and Money
One of the roles I enjoy most is teaching folks how to run for office and run campaigns. Any campaign training we run usually starts with essential political consulting advice on the three key resources of a campaign. The three main resources you have in any campaign are people, time and money. Below are descriptions of each of these three critical campaign resources.
TCW’s Guide to Campaign Training Costs and Programs
How much should a campaign training cost? Here at The Campaign Workshop, we believe it's important to train campaign staff by providing individuals who want to become campaign operatives the opportunity to go out and gain hands-on experience. If your goal is to work on a campaign, we suggest finding a training program with a strong track record and high attendance. There are a number of great programs throughout the country that we are happy to recommend to you. We’ve listed a few of these noteworthy organizations below.
Running a grassroots campaign is hard. There are always going to be grassroots volunteers who sign up for shifts and do not show up. That’s why when organizing an event, you can generally assume a 50% flake rate (percentage of grassroots volunteers who do not show up for their shift). More often than not, however, with the right coaxing, you can get a volunteer, who would have otherwise failed, to turn out for their shift. Below are a few suggestions to help you to mitigate your flake rate.
Our team is made up of amazing creative, organizational, and political consulting talent committed to achieving political and advocacy goals. We have worked for candidates and causes, big and small, all across the country.