How to train your campaign volunteers

July 18, 2018 - 7 minutes read

People volunteer for political campaigns because they are passionate about politics or really want their representative to win.

But many of your campaign volunteers are bound to be rookies who are unaware of the intricacies of campaign software or how to carry out a conversation with a voter.

So, what do you do? You train your volunteers!!

Properly trained volunteers can become valuable assets to your campaign and help you retain them in the long run.

Let us look at how you can train your campaign volunteers.

Give campaign volunteers basic political education

Every campaign has experienced volunteers and rookies. And the rookies must be given basic political education. This is necessary because it’s their first time volunteering for a campaign and they’ll be unaware of its nooks and crannies. Time spent on this will only benefit you in the long run.

What kind of education should you give:

Campaign specific training

After you’ve given your campaign volunteers basic political education, the next step is to give them campaign specific training. You must give every volunteer and staff member this information.

First, give your volunteers full information about your candidate. Mention why they are running for office, what issues your candidate is concerned about and what changes they want to bring in.

Second, talk about your campaign, its message, the key issues you want to focus on, and how your campaign will affect the issues people care about.

Third, summarize the strategy (go from the big picture to the small), what you want to adopt, and how your volunteers can help you. State your goal and explain how they will help you achieve it.

Remember to introduce your volunteers and staff to your campaign leaders. Tell them who is in charge of what and where volunteers have to go should they have queries or complaints.

Provide technical training

Technical training is given to builds on skills volunteers already have. Here, you need to identify the skills that volunteers possess and assign duties. You must divide your technical training into two categories:

Phone banking and Canvassing (or Deep canvassing)

Before you assign your volunteers to make phone calls or knock on doors, create a schedule. The schedule must be tight and move along these lines:

  • Start with updating your volunteers on the campaign
  • Practice and train your volunteers (20 minutes before making calls or canvassing)
  • After their shifts, let them debrief you on what they experienced on call and at doors
  • Thank your volunteers and assign them to another shift

As noted above, a successful volunteer shift starts with 20-30 minutes of training. Start off by:

  1. Updating them on the status of your campaign and telling them what they have to do. This should also include a walkthrough of the scripts they will use, be it for persuasion, voter ID, voter registration or GOTV.
  2. Next, tell them what kind of voters they will engage with. The voters may be base voters or persuadable. Understanding voters will ease interactions or conversations volunteers have with them. So, have other volunteers share the experiences they had with these voters.
  3. Ask your new volunteer to come in 20-30 minutes early so you can help them practice with the software or help improve their voter contact skills. You can also give them background information on your campaign.
  4. Make it a practice to review volunteer shifts. This gives them the sense that their shift is a part of a larger effort and you will know how well your volunteers are performing.
  5. Role play calls and door-to-door canvassing with your volunteers until it sounds like a real conversation. Show how a call or a face-to-face conversation must be carried out and then have them role play with each other. Create different scenarios in which people object to registering to vote or question your candidate’s credentials and see how volunteers handle every situation thrown at them. Supervise and give feedbacks.
  6. Go over the rules and how to respond to threats, putting up yard signs, or opponents.
  7. Review goals and the targets you want them to reach. This gives volunteers ownership of their shifts and will push themselves to do well.

Make your training session interactive. Ask people to stand up or help a volunteer when faced with a difficult situation. Keep it fun and provide refreshments. If you plan on providing training before each shift then keep it brief, at the most an hour.

Debrief your phone banking and canvassing volunteers

After the shift is completed, gather your volunteers and ask them to share their experience. This will help in keeping your volunteers motivated and will help you resolve any campaign-related issues. These debriefs will help you handle situations before they go out of hand.

What should you ask during debriefing?

  • Ask how their shift went- This is will give you enough information about who is performing well and who has good leadership skills.
  • Ask about voter opinions- this will help you gauge the general perception about the candidate and work towards improving the image.
  • Thank your volunteers and praise them for their efforts (to make them feel valued).
  • Encourage volunteers to share stories- good, bad or funny. Sharing stories is a way of supporting and guiding each other.

Remember, training is not a one-time thing, it is an ongoing process and must be consistent. To successfully train your campaign volunteers follow the tips mentioned above.

Tags: ,