15 Tips on How To Be A Volunteer Coordinator

volunteer coordinator political campaign

  1. Be a people-person.  Be extroverted.  You don’t have to know a lot of people already, but you have to be good at making and keeping new friends.  If you aren’t like this already, you can’t make yourself more extroverted and shouldn’t try.  Being yourself is actually more important than faking a personality.
  2. Have a fantastic memory.  People will come back if they feel like you know them.  Remember names.
  3. Set up an amazing volunteer reward system.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but the rewards have to be worthwhile.
  4. Give them access to the candidate.  If the candidate isn’t willing to stuff envelopes and make phone calls elbow-to-elbow with his volunteers, he’s not a very good person to work with.
  5. Give them a title.  “Summer Schedule Coordinator.”  This is the kid off from school who’s Googling every county fair, strawberry festival, and other community events in your district that you may want to attend this summer.  “Parade Captain.”  This is the person you chose this morning to get your 20 volunteers to the right spot in the parade at start time.  “Precinct Coordinator.”  This person is in charge of plastering one neighborhood with flyers every couple of weeks.  You get the idea.  Everyone has a job, so everyone can have a title.
  6. Get good at spotting special skills and talents in your volunteers, then capitalize on them.  I once had a volunteer invent a new way of unpeeling and sticking on labels that cut envelope stuffing time nearly in half.  I made her teach every envelope stuffer and declared her “Mail Coordinator.”
  7. Make your activities fun.  Add variety and find ways to spice them up.
  8. Feed your volunteers.  Seriously.  Have candy or trail mix around to snack on at all times and buy pizza or subs when you schedule an event during a mealtime.
  9. Offer childcare.  Get a couple of nice young babysitters to volunteer by babysitting for moms that would otherwise be unable to help, or organize a childcare co-op among your mom volunteers.  We lose a huge resource when we alienate the stay-at-home mom: she’s usually more educated and skilled than other volunteers and way more efficient, because moms are the ultimate multi-taskers.
  10. Don’t keep secrets from your volunteers.  It’s an annoying separation of ‘leadership’ and ‘the help’ if the campaign manager and others are running around whispering to each other and acting like the volunteers don’t exist.
  11. Recruit volunteers from volunteer pools that already exist, like Young Republicans, College Republicans, Right to Life organizations, Church groups, and other local conservation organizations.
  12. Develop an extremely streamlined, flexible, adaptable, organized system for keeping track of your volunteers, their contact info, the times/days they are available, what they like to do, what their restrictions are, and any other data you may need.  This could be note cards, or on the computer, or some sort of address book.  Whatever the system, make sure it’s way more comprehensive and cohesive than names and numbers on scraps of paper and business cards.
  13. Find well-trained volunteers.  If you can find college-age kids who’ve gone to YAF or LI events, that’s priceless.
  14. Create a giant master calendar and post it where everyone can see.
  15. Learn how to get by with little or no sleep.  This is crucial in the final weeks leading up to Election Day, because the success of your GOTV effort rests squarely on your shoulders.  I routinely pulled all-nighters the Monday/Tuesday of E-Day, partly because I was too nervous/stressed/excited to sleep, but mainly because I was putting finishing touches on the Election Day volunteer strategy and logistics.


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