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How to work with campaigns

How you can support candidates that support your issues

It is far easier to inform elected officials about the importance of your issue if candidates who share your concerns get elected. Helping your legislative champion get re-elected is an important way to show your appreciation and your support.

The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.

-- Thomas Edison

Having said that, campaigns are unusual organizations. They have short lives and are re-created every two years. Most of the staff, if not all, are volunteers like you. Many have never worked on a campaign before. Campaigns are not always perfectly organized. Don't get frustrated, understand that everyone else is helping out just as you are. Relax, the only goal of a campaign is to get good candidates elected.

You can support candidates and their campaigns in many ways - at least one will fit your resources and your political comfort level.

  1. First, VOTE. It is critical that you vote to support candidates that support your issue. Recent elections have made clear the importance of every vote. Voting is particularly important in low turn-out elections, such as primaries, special elections and municipal elections. If you are not registered or not sure who your candidates are, go to the Connecticut League of Women Voters site http://www.lwvct.org.
  2. Talk to candidates about your issue. You can do this passively by waiting for them to contact you - either knock on your door, come to a community meeting you attend, or greet you at the supermarket. Or you can contact them by email at Democracy Net http://www.dnet.org. You can call them directly to ask their position on your issue. Your local Registrar of Voters can give you contact information.
  3. Spread your message. Talk to your neighbors, friends, family, whoever about the election and the importance of your issue and/or your candidate. Agree to have a candidate's lawn sign in your yard, wear their button around town on your errands.
  4. Volunteer your time. Campaigns run on volunteers and candidates really appreciate your help. No experience or special skills are needed. Typical jobs include stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, dropping literature in doorways, and placing lawn signs. There are dozens of jobs from running the whole thing (campaign manager) to picking up the pizza.
  5. Write a check or provide in-kind support. Candidates need money to run, and most HATE fundraising. Your help in one of their least favorite jobs will be appreciated. Campaigns are becoming more and more costly. Any amount is significant. Money is needed for mailings, ads, lawn signs, polling, etc. You can also offer gifts of food, copying, lend a FAX machine, furniture, allow the use of phones for phone banking, or ad space in a publication. There are hundreds of ways to be supportive.

RELATED ARTICLES

The Proper Care and Feeding of a Champion

Legislators - Who are They?

Navigating the Legislative Process

How to work with a lobbyist

Effective Communications

Collaborations and Coalitions

Changing Public Opinion

Advocacy Explained

LINKS

Electoral Advocacy Toolkit for Nonprofits from Voices for America's Children (formerly the National Association of Child Advocates)

To find and communicate with your candidates during campaign season, go to http://www.dnet.org/

Connecticut League of Women Voters http://www.lwvct.org

Connecticut League of Women Voters' Guide to Voter Registration

"A Guide to Organizing Community Forums" www.communitycatalyst.org/acrobat/Community_Forums.pdf

TOOLS

Voter registration toolkit - Policymakers owe their jobs to the voters. Make sure that you and your clients are registered and vote. Get the tools to help you and your clients register to vote with contact information for their local CT candidates.

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