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Keeping Volunteer Canvassers Motivated

If you can explain the whole picture, it connects the meaning to the person - Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert

The process of finding and enlisting volunteers for your campaign isn’t easy, but when you do manage to assemble a group who are willing to go out into the field with you how can you best maintain morale and motivation for them?

Canvassing for political campaigns is a job that has evolved immensely in recent years but one thing that remains a central element is the act of volunteering. Campaigns are heavily indebted to the time commitment given by supporters to the cause and this should not be forgotten by campaign managers.

It takes a certain kind of someone to go out and promote a candidate, especially in a partisan political climate. So how can campaign managers keep their troops motivated during the hard yards of the canvass?

  • Lead by example. How motivating would be to see the campaign manager out on the hustings? This shows that you are not above any task which helps the candidate and the campaign. Volunteers will appreciate you getting involved more.

  • Campaign mission. If you have volunteers signed up to help with canvassing the chances are they believe in your campaign. It is important to cement this ‘buy-in’ by clearly outlining what you are trying to achieve when elected in the form of mission statements. Having this core mission to fall back on for canvassers will help them when they encounter negative feedback on the doorsteps and allow them to strongly vouch for the campaign.

  • Clear and simple messaging. Following on from the last point, don’t have your canvassers making unrealistic promises on the doorstep. If the canvasser doesn’t believe or understand what they are saying, the public will know immediately. Remember a confident canvasser is a happy canvasser.

  • Data driven motivation. We find that by showing our canvassers what they have accomplished on any one day drives them on for the next day. They can see what houses they have hit and the breakdown of who supports the campaign in their walk list.

  • Create a kickass playlist. Anyone who has ever been out on the road, knocking on door after door knows that it can get monotonous so why not carry around an ipod or phone with a motivating list of songs. We are not averse to a bit of Fleetwood Mac or Billy Joel when we are pounding the pavement.

  • End of campaign celebrations. When all the hard work is done and the feeling has returned to your fingers (canvassing can be a cold business), it is time to celebrate! Throw a campaign party regardless of the results. It will be great to showcase the support for the issue or candidate and it’s only right to show your appreciation to volunteers.

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