I saved the best for last, y’all! I happen to love everything to do with voter contact and caring for volunteers, even budgeting. I covered paid communications earlier because a lot of the physical materials you’ll be buying in that category you’ll really be using as part of your voter contact strategy. But since there’s still a Voter Contact & Volunteers section of the budget, obviously there’s still some more money you’re going to have to spend to get things into gear.
So what belongs in the Voter Contact & Volunteers section of your campaign budget?
- Estimated food costs for feeding volunteers during events throughout the campaign
- Any fees associated with gaining access to databases like Voter Vault that store key political information on specific voters
- Cell phone minutes or additional phone lines needed for big phone banks during GOTV
- Random stuff your volunteers should have, like bottled water if they’re walking door-to-door on a summer day, clipboards, paper and pens
- T-shirts for volunteers and supporters
- Admission costs to get volunteers into events where you need them to work
There are probably other things you can put in this category; a lot will depend on your region and what is ‘customary’ for campaigns in your area. Just be sure that this is an area where you do not skimp. Volunteers are your absolute greatest asset – do not squander it by being stingy! Recruiting and retaining volunteers is a key component of every campaign, large or small.
This is a pretty straight-forward section of the campaign budget and doesn’t require a lot of pre-planning, but it’s the last place you should cut costs.
Remember that volunteers are already saving you a bundle by doing work you’d otherwise need to pay someone to do. Especially for those volunteers in ‘regular staff’ type positions like Campaign Manager or Fundraising Coordinator, you should side aside funding for them to be treated like professionals.