Step 6: Building your team
You’ve committed to standing, you’ve decided on your goal, you've found your voice - now what? You’ve still got a long ways ahead - but fortunately you don't have to (and absolutely should not!) do it alone. Your campaign team will be a crucial part of your process of standing for election, whether it’s helping you strategise, plan, and door-knock or simply lending a shoulder to cry on or a home-cooked meal. But what does this mean in practice? Who will form your campaign team? What will they do? Read on to begin to sort out this crucial step!
Who should be on my team?
Leverage your network! There are more people out there willing to help you on your way than you might initially think. Consider some of the following people to ask to join your team:
Members of community groups (are there any allied with your party, or particular issues you’re emphasising in your campaign?).
Party members and volunteers.
Students (consider engaging with the youth wing of your party if applicable, or with political societies at local universities).
The more diverse your team is, the greater your capacity to reach and engage with as many people as possible and tap into networks you may not yourself have access to. Not only can this broaden your support base, but it will also allow you to inform your campaign from diverse perspectives that you may not have previously considered. In terms of size, while your team doesn’t necessarily have to be huge, considering responsibility-sharing and burden loads is important - you want to have a big enough team to avoid saddling a small number of people with an unreasonable amount of tasks (particularly if most of your team are volunteers). Most importantly - regardless of who your team ends up being - you want to ensure you’re surrounded with individuals who are dedicated and committed to your campaign. Finally, remember that the most central member of your campaign team will always be you! You know your drive, your goal, and your campaign better than anyone else, and your passion can be a powerful drive for other members of your team as well.
When should I build my team?
As a rule of thumb, start early! Some recommend having a campaign team in place six months to a year before an election - while this may not always be feasible, it’s good to have an idea of who you might ask and the types of support you’ll need early on, at the very least.
How do I find and recruit team members?
Beyond reaching out within your own network, you can grow your team by attending community events (including those within your party, if applicable), distributing flyers, reaching out on social media, going door-to-door, speaking with existing elected officials, or simply speaking with people over coffee or lunch. This isn’t necessarily a linear process - get creative, think outside the box, and network!
What roles should my team play?
Again, this will depend on a number of factors, including the size (and skillset) of your team, resources (in terms of both time and money), and so on. Not every campaign will have someone in every role, multiple people might serve in one position, or the same person might work across roles and responsibilities. If applicable, your party may have more information or systems in place to inform what positions are crucial to a campaign. As a guide, however, it’s a good idea to find individuals with the skills and interests to broadly fulfill the following roles and tasks:
Campaign manager. A super-organised right-hand (wo)man who you work well with, with the time to commit to planning and executing the key steps of your campaign and day-to-day activities.
Finance director/treasurer. Someone who’s a star with money and financial management, who can identify donors, ask for donations, and ensure you're on track from a financial perspective.
Media/public relations/communications director. A person (or perhaps people) who are knowledgeable of and connected with local media, perhaps with skills in graphic design, copywriting, and photography, to get your name known in the media and through events. Able to manage social media accounts, write press releases, plan canvassing scripts, and the like.
Volunteer coordinator. A team player who can recruit, train, and manage volunteers.
Canvassing coordinator. Detail-oriented and strategy-savvy, this person/s defines canvassing areas, the best times to canvass, and finds and assigns canvassers (likely in coordination with the volunteer coordinator).
Signs director. A handy person (ideally with access to a vehicle) to identify locations for, install, remove, and repair signs.
Election Day coordinator. Around on Election Day who can organise callers, drivers, and prepare a venue for results night (if that's up your alley).
Researcher. What do you need to know about the issues? What background material is key for a debate? Need facts and figures for a speech? Researcher(s) are there to help.
Volunteers! The folks who make phone calls, door-knock, drive, and everything in between - these people are crucial!
Any other resources?
This guide as well as this article have some good advice that also helped inform the above suggestions (though keep in mind the country context is different and may differ further depending on the sphere of government you stand for, as well as your party).
Check out the videos below to hear the experiences of two women who successfully stood - Claire Miller, councillor in Edinburgh, and Preet Kaur Gill, MP - building their campaign teams.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Step #7: Running a campaign.