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Inside the World of a Field Organizer: Unpacking the Role and Responsibilities

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Published: Apr 13, 2023

At the forefront of any political campaign are field organizers. They are consultant professionals who don several hats during elections. Some of the core job responsibilities of a field organizer include the following:

  • Mobilizing individuals to take action toward a common goal
  • Volunteer recruitment and training to organize events
  • Engaging with communities to build a robust network of volunteers and supporters
  • Depending on the campaign’s scope and size, they may supervise staff in a specific region or state.

Naturally, field organizers form a driving force behind any successful grassroots campaign. 

In this article, we delve into the responsibilities of a field organizer and why this position is critical for any campaign or movement.

Roles and Types of Field Organizers

Field organizers’ responsibilities may change based on the campaign’s size and type. Their job involves building a solid volunteer base through effective communication, outreach, and coordination. 

The six main types of field organizers are:

  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Canvassing director
  • Digital organizer
  • Field organizer
  • Regional organizer
  • Data manager

Let’s look at the field organizer’s job responsibilities in more detail. 

Volunteer coordinator

Volunteer coordinators manage and coordinate the efforts of volunteers in a political campaign.

They identify potential volunteers, recruit them to the campaign, and provide them with the support and training they need to contribute effectively.

Canvassing director

Canvassing directors develop and implement strategies for effective canvassing. This includes identifying target areas and populations, coordinating canvassing efforts with other outreach initiatives, and training and managing canvassers.

Canvassing directors work closely with volunteer coordinators to identify potential canvassers and provide them with training and resources. This may involve

  • Organizing training sessions, 
  • Providing canvassers with talking points and other campaign materials, and 
  • Coordinating outreach efforts with other components of the campaign.

The 2018 campaign of Stacey Abrams for governor of Georgia used a sophisticated canvassing strategy that targeted specific neighborhoods and demographics and provided canvassers with detailed information about potential voters. This approach helped the campaign engage with voters who may have been traditionally marginalized, resulting in a strong showing at the polls.

Digital organizer

The average age of a political volunteer is 43, and about 46% of them fall in the 20-40 age group. But the interesting part is that many of these volunteers consume their news and information from various sources on social media.

According to research by the Pew Research Center, 63% of people in the 18-29 age group used Snapchat as a news source in 2021, and 52% used TikTok. Meanwhile, 47% of the 30-49 age group relied on Reddit for their news, while 46% used LinkedIn. But Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too are important news sources for these age groups. It’s clear that social media platforms are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the political landscape. That’s why digital organizers must craft a comprehensive strategy to target and reach voters through various social media channels.

Digital organizers develop and implement digital outreach strategies, including social media campaigns, email marketing, targeted advertising, and other online initiatives. They integrate digital outreach efforts with other components of the campaign.

The 2020 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders used a sophisticated digital outreach strategy that included targeted advertising, social media campaigns, and online fundraising initiatives. This approach helped the campaign engage with diverse voters, including younger voters and those who may have been traditionally less engaged in the political process.

Field director

Field directors oversee the entire field organizing team, including volunteer coordinators, canvassing directors, and digital organizers. They ensure all components of the campaign are working together seamlessly.

Field directors are strategic thinkers and leaders. They possess a deep understanding of the political landscape and a keen sense of how to mobilize voters and build support for a campaign. They work closely with the candidate to develop and implement a comprehensive field organizing strategy that leverages the strengths of each component of the team.

The role of the field director is especially critical in large campaigns with complex organizational structures. They must manage multiple teams, delegate responsibilities effectively, and ensure all team members are working toward a common goal.

Regional organizer

Regional organizers oversee and coordinate the efforts of volunteers and field organizers within a specific region or district, ensuring all activities align with the broader goals of the campaign.

They are also strategic thinkers with a deep understanding of the local political landscape. 

The role of the regional organizer is especially critical in campaigns with large geographic footprints. 

In the 2018 midterm elections in the United States, The Democratic Party invested heavily in regional organizing efforts. They focused on specific districts where they saw opportunities to win seats in Congress. This approach helped them win back control of the House of Representatives.

Data manager

Data managers collect, analyze, and interpret data related to voters, volunteers, and other key campaign metrics. They use this information to help the campaign make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and optimize their outreach efforts.

Data managers ensure campaigns have accurate and up-to-date information about voters and volunteers. This includes collecting and maintaining data on electorates’ demographics, voting history, and other key factors that impact a campaign’s success. They also ensure the data is secure and compliant with all relevant regulations and guidelines.

In the 2012 US presidential election, the Obama campaign was known for its sophisticated use of data and analytics. It allowed them to target outreach efforts more effectively and engage with key groups of voters. 

What does a field organizer do?

A field organizer is the backbone of any successful political campaign. They spearhead some of the key activities in each phase of an election campaign. 

  • Mobilization: They build and mobilize a team of volunteers to get out the vote and support the candidate.
  • Events and rallies: A field organizer coordinates events and rallies to build momentum and support for the campaign. This involves everything from securing venues and speakers to managing logistics and outreach efforts.
  • Canvassing: They organize canvassing and phone banking efforts.
  • Voter outreach: A field organizer develops outreach strategies that resonate with the target audience. This might involve phone banking, door-to-door canvassing, or online advertising campaigns.
  • Data management: A field organizer works with data management tools to keep track of voter demographics, preferences, and behavior. This data will be used to inform outreach strategies, refine messaging, and target resources where they’re needed most.
  • Fundraising: FIeld organizers work closely with the campaign finance team to organize fundraising events and reach out to potential donors. This might involve hosting house parties, soliciting donations online, or organizing high-profile fundraising dinners.
  • Volunteer management: Volunteer recruitment, training and managing is a key part of their job. This might involve developing training materials, delegating tasks, and providing ongoing support and motivation to keep the team engaged and effective.
  • Messaging and communications: A field organizer refines messaging and develops talking points that resonate with the target audience. This might involve conducting focus groups, analyzing polling data, and collaborating with other stakeholders to develop a winning message. 

Field organizer job responsibilities

Field organizers have a diverse set of job responsibilities, all with the ultimate goal of mobilizing supporters and voters for their political campaign. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

Mobilizing volunteers

Field organizers need to find volunteers who are passionate about the campaign and willing to dedicate their time and energy to it. 

These volunteers build relationships with voters, provide valuable insights and feedback, and expand the reach of the campaign. 

To mobilize volunteers effectively, field organizers need to develop a recruitment strategy that targets individuals aligned with the campaign’s values and goals. They provide comprehensive training to ensure volunteers understand their roles and possess the skills and extensive knowledge they need to be effective. Ongoing support and guidance are also important to ensure volunteers feel motivated and engaged throughout the campaign. 

Coordinating events

According to a report by Eventbrite, political events can be highly effective at mobilizing supporters, with over 75% of attendees saying they are more likely to vote after attending an event.

Events provide an opportunity to for direct voter contact, build relationships, and create a sense of community around the campaign. From rallies and town halls to phone banks and canvassing events, field organizers plan and execute events that are engaging, informative, and effective.

To coordinate events effectively, field organizers need strong organizational skills and attention to detail. They need to work closely with volunteers, vendors, and other stakeholders to ensure events run smoothly. 

In addition, field organizers need to be skilled communicators. They need to promote events effectively, using social media, email, and other channels to reach potential attendees and build excitement around the campaign. This involves 

  • Communicating effectively with attendees, 
  • Answering questions, 
  • Addressing concerns, and 
  • Building relationships that can translate into support for the campaign.

Canvassing

A study by Yale University found that a single in-person conversation between a canvasser and a voter increased the likelihood of the voter supporting the canvasser’s candidate by 8.7%.

As a field organizer, coordinating and overseeing canvassing efforts is a crucial part of their role. This includes 

  • Mapping out canvassing routes,
  • Providing volunteers with necessary materials such as campaign literature and clipboards, and 
  • Tracking canvassing results to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign’s messaging and outreach efforts.
  • Training volunteers on how to engage with voters and pivot conversation to issues that will mobilize them to the ballots.

Voter outreach

Voter outreach involves identifying potential supporters and reaching out to them through various channels such as phone banking, text messaging, and email campaigns. Voter outreach helps campaigns communicate their message effectively and mobilize supporters to vote on election day.

A field organizer will work closely with volunteers to develop and implement voter outreach strategies. This may include 

  • Recruiting volunteers to make phone calls or send text messages to voters,
  • Creating email campaigns to reach out to supporters, and 
  • Organizing events to engage with potential voters.

As a field organizer, it’s crucial to develop and implement effective voter outreach strategies so the campaign reaches as many supporters as possible. This involves 

  • Identifying the most effective channels for reaching different segments of the electorate and
  • Developing compelling messaging that resonates with voters.

Data management

Field organizers collect and analyze data to track the progress of the campaign and make informed decisions. They need to maintain accurate records of voter information, volunteer hours, and campaign expenses to comply with legal requirements and keep the campaign organized.

Field organizers use various tools and software to manage data effectively. For example, they use 

  • Voter database software to store and manage voter information,
  • Fundraising software to track donations, and 
  • Data analytics tools to identify patterns in voter behavior and develop targeted outreach strategies.

Fundraising

According to data from CNBC, 2020 elections spending touched nearly $14 billion on campaigning, with $6.6 billion going towards the presidential race alone. This underscores the importance of effective fundraising strategies in political campaigns.

Field organizers work closely with the campaign finance team to come up with strategies for 

  • Raising money,
  • Utilizing and finalizing fundraising channels
  • Organizing fundraising events, and 
  • Encouraging donors to contribute to the campaign.

A skilled field organizer articulates the campaign’s goals and objectives in a way that resonates with potential donors and inspires them to contribute to the cause.

Grassroots organizing

Successful grassroots organizing can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election. For example, in the 2020 US presidential election, grassroots organizing played a critical role in increasing voter turnout and mobilizing support for both candidates. According to data from Pew Research Center, voter turnout in the 2020 election was the highest it had been in over a century, with over 158.4 million people casting their ballots.

Grassroots organizing involves 

  • Connecting with people in the community, 
  • Building relationships, and 
  • Creating a network of supporters who can promote campaign’s message and goals.

A field organizer will need to develop a deep understanding of the community they are working in, including its demographics, social issues, and political climate. This requires a strong ability to listen to people, understand their concerns, and connect with them on a personal level.

A field organizer also needs to identify potential supporters and engage with them in a meaningful way. This may involve 

  • Going door-to-door,
  • Organizing community events, and 
  • Working with local organizations and leaders to build relationships and gain support for the campaign.

Message development

A field organizer must be able to develop a compelling message that resonates with the target audience. This message should effectively communicate the organization’s vision and goals and inspire people to take action. It should be simple, clear, and persuasive enough to sway the opinions of undecided voters.

To develop a successful message, thei need to research and understand the target audience’s values, beliefs, and concerns. This requires collecting data, conducting surveys and polls, and analyzing social media trends. Once they have a good understanding of the audience, they can tailor the message to their specific needs and interests.

The message should also be consistent across all communication channels, including social media, email, and in-person events. They will work closely with the digital and social media team to ensure the messaging is on-point and effective.

An excellent example of effective message development is the 2008 Obama campaign’s “Hope and Change” slogan. The slogan was simple, positive, and inspired hope and optimism in people across the country. The campaign effectively used this message across various platforms, creating a consistent narrative that helped them win the election.

Relationship building

The success of any political campaign or advocacy effort relies heavily on the ability to build and maintain relationships with key players in the community. A field organizer will establish and maintain relationships with volunteers, voters, stakeholders, and community leaders.

To build relationships effectively, field organizers must be excellent communicators and active listeners. They must connect with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and socio-economic statuses. 

Field organizers must also have a deep understanding of the communities they work in. They must identify and engage with the right stakeholders and leaders in the community.

At the end of the day, relationship building is all about building bridges and finding common ground. Taking the time to truly understand the needs and concerns of the community better equips a field organizer to develop effective strategies and mobilize support for their candidate or cause. 

What hard skills do field organizers need?

Field organizing is a demanding job that requires a diverse range of skills. 

Here are some hard skills that field organizers need to possess:

field-organizer-job-responsibilities-hard-skills

Data analysis

In today’s data-driven world, understanding and interpreting data is essential for any successful campaign. Field organizers need to gather, analyze, and use data to create effective strategies and make informed decisions.

A field organizer must

  • Identify neighborhoods or demographics that are more likely to support their candidate or cause. 
  • Analyze voting patterns and previous election results to target their outreach efforts effectively.
  • Interpret polling data. Polls are critical for measuring public opinion and tracking changes in voter sentiment over time. Field organizers must analyze this data to gain valuable insights into the issues that matter most to voters and develop targeted messaging strategies that resonate with their audience.
  • Track the progress of the campaign and adjust the strategies as needed. They need to use data to monitor volunteer engagement, fundraising goals, and voter outreach efforts. This tells them where to allocate resources and how to adjust their tactics.

Technology skills

Field organizers rely heavily on technology to carry out their responsibilities. From using data management tools to building social media campaigns, technology skills are necessary to ensure the success of a campaign.

Field organizers need to have proficiency in

  • Database management, data visualization software, and project management tools,
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software that the party or campaign uses. Typically, job requirements are specific about technology skills and demand that applicants know, say NationBuilder, NGPVan, etc.
  • Advanced data analysis tools like Excel, SQL, or Tableau,
  • Phonebanking tools like CallHub and canvassing tools like Ecanvasser (here too, campaigns can be specific about their requirements),
  • Fundraising tools, and
  • Social media and digital advertising platforms.

Event planning

A field organizer will organize various events such as rallies, fundraisers, and community outreach programs. They need excellent event planning skills to ensure every event runs smoothly and successfully.

Here are some important ones:

  • Attention to detail: Whether it’s securing a venue, coordinating with speakers, or managing logistics, event planning requires a keen eye for detail. 
  • Budgeting and resource management: A field organizer will need to prioritize spending, negotiate contracts, and get the most out of every dollar.
  • Marketing and promotion: To attract attendees and build momentum for the campaign, a field organizer needs to be skilled in marketing and promotion. This includes everything from creating eye-catching graphics to developing compelling messaging.
  • Crisis management: Unexpected challenges can arise during an event. A field organizer needs to think on their feet and respond quickly to any issues that may arise. 

Public speaking

A field organizer will frequently interact with a diverse range of people, including potential voters, volunteers, and community leaders. Being able to speak confidently and persuasively in public is critical to the success of their organizing efforts.

  • They must communicate the message clearly and effectively to engage and inspire the audience.
  • They may need to give speeches at rallies, town halls, and other events. 
  • They may lead training sessions for volunteers, where they will need to convey complex information in a clear and concise manner. 

Developing public speaking skills will help build rapport with the audience, establish credibility, and ultimately drive engagement and action.

Project management

As field organizers juggle numerous responsibilities, they need to organize and prioritize their tasks effectively to ensure all aspects of the campaign are running smoothly. This involves setting goals, creating timelines, and ensuring all tasks are completed on time and within budget.

Here are some key project management skills that field organizers will need:

  1. Time management: This means setting priorities, creating a schedule, and sticking to it. A field organizer must identify and delegate tasks to volunteers and keep everyone on the same page. 
  2. Planning and organization: Field organizers need to develop a clear plan of action for the campaign, including timelines, budgets, and goals. They must organize the resources effectively, including the team, volunteers, and materials.
  3. Evaluation and analysis: A field organizer needs to evaluate the campaign’s progress, analyze results, and adjust strategy accordingly. 

A field organizer with strong project management skills can ensure the campaign is successful and all stakeholders are satisfied with the outcome.

Canvassing

Canvassing involves going door-to-door and direct voter contact, so field organizers need to be able to communicate effectively, persuade people, and think on their feet. 

To be successful, field organizers need a range of skills: 

  • Create canvassing packets and manage data collection and entry into voter access networks.
  • Recruit, train and coordinate campaign volunteers for regular phone banking and neighborhood canvassing schedules for various jurisdiction sizes.
  • Keep accurate records of canvassing efforts, use data analysis tools to track progress, and adjust strategy accordingly. 
  • Identify and engage with key stakeholders and leaders in the community, and tailor their message to resonate with the local population. 

Voter registration

The ability to register new voters can significantly impact the success of a campaign. It’s a field organizer’s job to 

  • Make sure every eligible voter in the area is registered to vote, and 
  • Encourage them to go out and cast their ballot on Election Day.

To be effective in voter registration, a field organizer needs a range of skills: 

  • A deep understanding of the voter registration process, including the relevant laws and regulations in their state or district. This knowledge is essential to ensure all potential voters are registered properly and that their registrations are valid.
  • Engage with potential voters and build trust and rapport.
  • Organize voter registration drives and events that allow organizers to engage with large numbers of potential voters at once. 
  • Leverage digital tools to reach potential voters where they are. This might include social media campaigns, targeted online advertising, and email outreach. 

What soft skills should a field organizer have?

A field organizer must work with diverse groups of people, from volunteers to donors to voters, and needs a range of soft skills to be successful.

field-organizer-job-responsibilities-soft-skills

Communication

Communication skills are one of the most in-demand soft skills in 2023.

Whether they are speaking with volunteers, donors, community leaders, or voters, field organizers must clearly convey their message and build relationships. They should be skilled in active listening, asking thoughtful questions, and providing feedback.

Field organizers must be able to communicate effectively in face-to-face conversations, phone calls, emails, and social media. They should adapt their communication style to different audiences and be comfortable with public speaking.

Leadership

As a field organizer, it is essential to have strong leadership skills to inspire and motivate volunteers and team members. Leadership means 

  • Being able to set clear goals,
  • Communicating effectively, 
  • Delegating tasks, and 
  • Providing guidance and support to the team.

One example of effective leadership in action comes from the 2008 Obama campaign. During the Iowa caucuses, then-Senator Obama’s campaign staff deployed a unique leadership strategy called “snowflake” organizing. This involved breaking down large voter lists into smaller, more manageable lists that could be tackled by small teams of volunteers. This approach allowed volunteers to feel empowered and make meaningful contributions to the campaign, ultimately leading to a historic victory.

Flexibility

Field organizing is a dynamic and ever-changing job that requires the ability to adapt to new situations and environments quickly. 

Field organizers may encounter unexpected challenges that require them to pivot their strategy or adjust their plans. For example, unexpected weather conditions may make it difficult to hold an outdoor rally, or a last-minute scheduling conflict may require them to rearrange a meeting with a community leader. In these situations, a field organizer with a flexible mindset can quickly come up with alternative plans and ensure the campaign stays on track.

Moreover, flexibility is also important when working with volunteers and team members who have varying schedules and availability. Being able to accommodate different schedules and adapt to changing circumstances helps maintain team morale.

Problem-solving

According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, problem-solving skills are among the top five most sought-after qualities that employers look for in job candidates.

A field organizer will encounter challenges that require creative and effective solutions. A field organizer should be able to 

  • Quickly assess a situation, 
  • Identify the root cause of a problem, 
  • Develop a plan of action to address it,
  • Adapt to changing circumstances,
  • Work closely with volunteers, stakeholders, and community members,
  • Identify trends and patterns,
  • Stay positive, maintain a can-do attitude, and bounce back from setbacks

Empathy

A field organizer will encounter people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and experiences. They must be able to build relationships with them and understand their needs.

Empathy is particularly important when working with voters. Understanding their concerns and what motivates them helps tailor the message to resonate with them and build trust. 

Organizational skills

A field organizer should be able to juggle multiple tasks and projects, meet deadlines, and paying close attention to detail.

They will manage a team, coordinate events, and keep track of voter information. Without excellent organizational skills, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks, which can be disastrous for a campaign.

They should maintain a calendar of events, a list of tasks and deadlines, and keep track of voter information. This not only helps them stay organized, but also allows them to analyze the campaign’s progress and adjust strategies as needed.

Having strong organizational skills also helps them work more efficiently. This is crucial in the fast-paced environment of a political campaign.

Ready to make an impact?

As a field organizer, your primary goal is voter contact, building strong relationships, and making a lasting impact. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through personalized outreach, and that’s where CallHub comes in.

CallHub is a user-friendly outreach platform that can streamline your communications and help you make the most out of every interaction. With features like automated dialing and text messaging, you can save time and stay organized while still delivering a personal touch to your outreach.

But what really sets CallHub apart is our ability to scale outreach efforts. Whether you’re managing a small local campaign or a large-scale national initiative, CallHub can handle the volume of calls and messages necessary to reach your goals. 

With CallHub’s powerful automation tools, you can 

  • Easily create and manage calling campaigns, 
  • Segment your audience, and 
  • Track your progress, all while ensuring every interaction feels personal and relevant.

Try CallHub today. 

Featured image: Photo by Mikhail Nilov

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