Want to Win Your Campaign? Learn How to Recruit Your Volunteers

January 18, 2013 | By Heather Homan

A common misconception is to keep recruiting until you have enough volunteers. The problem is if you are running an effective campaign you never have enough volunteers. Let’s face it --life happens. People will cancel and bail on you at the last minute. Unforeseen tasks come up and in the campaign world you need to learn to expect the unexpected; what can go wrong, often does.

In order to save you the often avoidable stress and wasted time of having to scramble at the last minute to find enough people to accomplish your goal, make sure you never run out of volunteers with these quick tips.

* Have something for them to do. If you aren’t prepared with projects for your volunteers, you will appear unorganized and it will reflect poorly on your campaign or organization. Without work, volunteers will get bored and go home and may never come back.

*Treat them well. Remember, your volunteers are giving up their time – and we all know time is money. Make sure you feed them and thank them for sacrificing their time. Treating volunteers with respect may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised to know how many instances I’ve seen where this isn’t always the case.

*Never stop recruiting. Recruitment is a fulltime job – it never ends. You should always be searching for new volunteers and encouraging folks to sign up to volunteer for your candidate or cause. You need to be bold and ask people to volunteer;  they aren’t going to be knocking at your door, so you need to find them. If you have 30 phones to fill, don’t recruit 30 volunteers and think you’ve succeeded. Keep recruiting and constantly look for ways to bring new people on board.

Give ‘em a title and get ‘em involved. There is always something to be done. If you don’t have work for volunteers to do, then you need to reevaluate your campaign! Recruitment doesn’t have to be a tedious task. In fact, it can be an effective tool to mobilize supporters to your campaign or cause. Volunteers are your biggest asset -- now go recruit!

This article is a part of a regular “Expert Insights” series which delves into the mechanics of political technology. LI staff, faculty, graduates, and conservative friends are welcome to submit an article by contacting Lauren Day at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org

Heather Homan is the Leadership Institute’s political training coordinator and manages LI’s week-long Campaign Management Schools and Future Candidate Schools. Before coming to LI she worked five years for U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) in his state office and later on Capitol Hill. She currently is the national committeewoman for the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, where she also serves as chair of the YRFV’s outreach committee. Locally, Heather serves as the membership chair for the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans. Heather is a 2005 graduate of The University of Toledo, where she received a B.S. in Criminal Justice and also holds a Master’s in Organization Development from Bowling Green State University’s College of Business.