How to volunteer for the campaign of your choice

September 13, 2012 | By Leadership Institute Staff

As Morton Blackwell wrote, now is the time for you to work hard for the candidates of your choice. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

But if you're new to activism or brand new to political volunteering, where do you go and what do you do? How do you get in touch with a campaign and find out how to help?

Follow this simple, easy, and quick five-step process -- and you'll be well on your way to helping the candidate of your choice win and spending Election Day 2012 knowing you did your part for your principles.

1. Find the campaign HQ or offices online. Call the number listed, introduce yourself, and say you’d like to help.

Every campaign website should have a page called "Volunteer," "Take Action," or "Get Involved" that will provide information. Alternatively, you can click on a page labeled "Contact" to get a phone number. If you'd like to volunteer for a presidential or statewide race (e.g. a campaign for governor or Senate), try to find the contact information for the campaign office closest to you.

Then punch in the numbers and give the office a call. Here's a simple script: "Hi, my name is [Name]. I would like to get involved with your campaign. Is there someone I can speak with?"

Your call likely will be forwarded to the volunteer coordinator, who directs the activities of volunteers like you. He or she can explain the best times to stop by and answer any questions you have.

2. Walk into the office, smile (of course!), and say you want to volunteer. You’ll be directed to the right person.

Campaign headquarters are always in motion. Don't be intimidated, especially if this your first time walking into a campaign office.

Smile and say hello to the first staff member you see. If you explain you're there and you're happy to help, you'll be welcomed with open arms.

3. If possible, bring a friend or two. It’s more fun for you and more help for the campaign -- win-win!

Most events in life are more fun with a friend. Volunteering for a campaign is no exception.

Children in middle school and high school may also enjoy volunteering with you. Check with the campaign office when you call and see if there will be age-appropriate activities. It's a free family night out -- and a great way to model civic engagement.

But if you don't have friends or family to bring with you, don't worry. Volunteering for a campaign is a great way to meet like-minded, engaged people like you. Plus, spending the coming days and weeks hard at work for a common campaign will help you forge new friendships.

4. Be flexible and ready for anything. The work may not be glamorous, but it’s important (and you’ll learn a lot).

You may be asked to stuff envelopes, walk door-to-door, call voters, set up for or clean up from an event, or much more. Campaign work is as unceasing as it is varied. It will help you to be ready for anything and walk into the office with an open mind.

Always give a good try at whatever you're asked to do. But if -- for example -- you've spent 45 minutes calling voters and you know it's just not for you, kindly ask the volunteer coordinator how else you can help the campaign. There's always another job that needs to be done.

5. Ask questions about your tasks, especially if you’re new. There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

No one is born a campaign pro; the knowledge and skills are built over time through political training and first-hand experience.

So don't be afraid to repeat the instructions to make sure you understand. It's much better to ask questions beforehand than to apologize for a mix-up or misunderstanding later.

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