Kickstarting your political campaign can be one of the most exciting and terrifying things you will ever do. At Ecanvasser, we work with people from the campaign’s inception to the victory party after the ballots are counted. Some campaigns have short lifespans and others go on for years depending on what you are dealing with. Whatever kind of campaign you are planning on running, we have a few milestones that we advise you hit. Follow our timeline below to map your way to success.
Get your financials in order
Some of the best advice we ever got was “don’t get into politics for the money” and we couldn’t agree more. Money shouldn’t be your goal because, newsflash, politics is bloody expensive. Having a healthy budget at the beginning of your planning process will lighten the load somewhat because your life will be all about managing expenses from now on. Budget accordingly and organize a fundraising round. Open yourself up to donations and research what grants are available to you as a new candidate.
Import Your Database
Depending on the position you are running for, a live register is essential. Many people have access to voter files from NationBuilder, state organisations or similar vendors. Other times, depending on your party affiliation, some candidates may have built up their own voter files. This database is crucial for outreach and relationship building later on and we would advise acquiring one before running.
Voter File Essentials
What will your voter file consist of?
First name, surname, address (segmented into house number, street number, town, city, state, area code etc). Past voting habits, nearest polling station and other customizable fields.
The beauty of having a voter management system such as Ecanvasser means that when you upload your voter file onto our system, you get to view all the homes on a map. This is made all the easier if you have longitude and latitude fields in your voter fields.
Voter management systems act like CRM systems in such a way that you can view all the profiles of your community and constantly update it. The organization is key when it comes to campaigning so put your best foot forward.
Invite Initial Team
If you are working in politics in 2017, you will more than likely have acquired a core group of supporters or ‘fans’. These people will all need to be added to your inner circle and if you are using software then the same applies, Giving them access to the software is the best way of delegating and this way everyone is on the same page.
Permission Setting On Software
Adding your team to the Ecanvasser system also means you will need to assign them various permission levels. Our campaign permission settings are as follows: Campaign owner, campaign manager, staffer, lead canvasser and canvasser.
Kick Off Meeting
So once the nitty gritty is done and dusted, you better get your face out there and announce your candidacy. Make it official through whatever channels you find appropriate. Some people go door to door, others do a mail blast, announce on radio, through billboards or even social media. Many candidates can only announce their intentions to run once an election has been called but you are not forbidden from going around and telling people in your community about your intentions to run in the next election, no matter how far off that may be.
Campaign messaging is so important because it is essentially your selling piece. Devise a couple of options and then go out and test it on different groups. See the reaction and make amendments if necessary.
Segments Your Database
Going back to your database, you need to drill down further in order to get the most out of it. Segment your voter file for maximum outreach. People who share your ideas or people you know are registered to vote should be your priority and work
Drilling down your voter file will also allow you to cut turfs and assign specific parts of your town or community to specific canvasser groups.
Set Up Data Collection System
Whether you are using a mobile app or pen and paper, make note of everything. Track any interaction, take down names and a point of contact. It makes further outreach much easier.
We always get asked about canvasser training and we encourage it. You can read more about it here. Give your volunteers the basics so they wil confident when talking about your campaign.
Now you have segmented your voter list, cut turfs and trained your canvassers, why wait any longer. Start knocking on doors. Take a systematic approach and arrange meeting points and regular check in with your various groups. Your canvassers safety should be your priority.
If you are lucky to have email addresses you can also easily send an email blast from the Ecanvasser dashboard. It is a useful outreach method if for some reason you can’t go canvassing one day.
Custom Fields Set Up
Custom fields: Capture the custom data that really matters to your campaign. Custom Fields are one of the most powerful aspects of Ecanvasser. Custom Fields are designed to give you flexibility and control in managing your voters. What ensures that your specific and individual goals are reached is that Custom. Fields are to the front-and-center of the app - making certain that all of your canvassers engage on the topics that are critical to you. + Surveys It is here you can manage the questions you need your canvassers to be asking. You can create and edit, as well as review the results of your Surveys.
Your Issues tab is part of how Ecanvasser will assist in raising your campaign above those of your competitors. It helps to ensure that any constituency issue is properly tracked, and resolved, in a timely manner.
You have just completed your first stage of outreach a process that may take 2 weeks or even a month depending on your run into an election. Now you have gained sufficient feedback you will need to make some changes to turn interested individuals into voters. You can deduce what works from your surveys.
Analyze Survey Data
Now that you’ve collected your survey results and have a data analysis plan, it’s time to dig in and analyze the data. Derive the main findings and always archive your data.
Analyze Turf Data
See your community come to life, identify stronghold areas and track your campaign activity in detail.
Layout posters & Leaflets
Everything to promote your campaign we like to think as being that little bit "extra". Is all about the final package so marketing materials are very important. Check out our brochure template in The Campaign Blueprint.
Largely an American tradition, these are so useful when trying to promote your campaign. Keep the design simple and offer these to anyone who wishes to join your campaign as an active member.
Invite New Team Members
It will surprise you how many new team members you will pick up on the campaign trail. Get these people to move from enthusiastic supporters to active members of the team. Invite them to use the software and invite them along on a canvass. The more volunteers you have the more ground you can cover.
Build Out Casework
Casework management: Our CRM system lets you manage as much casework as you like, assign cases to team members and set a priority level.
Email Blast #2
Yes, more emails please. A second blast of emails will serve as a reminder, to anyone who was on the fence after your first canvass. It will keep you fresh in the mind of those going to the polls nearer E-day.
2nd Round After Data Tidy Up
You should be constantly cleaning your voter file, removing people who have moved away or may have passed on since the last election. Keep your live register fresh and you’ll be one step ahead the whole time.
Set Up GOTV
Check out our infographic on GOTV strategy.
Set Up E-Day
Election Day is the final hurdle and we always remind people that it is on this day that you do the most work. We are big fans of poll striking if you have the manpower and we did a quick blog post on it and you can find it right here.
Remember, your team has put in long hours of primarily voluntary work over the past number of weeks and months. Make sure they’re well fed, rewarded and thanked.
If you'd like to learn more about Ecanvasser, why not get the app and dashboard for free and see what it can do for your campaign.