No matter what office you're running for, there are some basics that apply to every campaign. There are the essentials that you need to take care of first, and there are a few things you need to get started on once you're set up. This guide will walk you through the fundamentals of getting a campaign started.
Before you can do anything you will need to let the government know you are running. Your campaign isnít really a campaign until you make it official. Itís important to do some research and know what you need to do to get on the ballot and when you need to have it done. For some offices, you will need to get a certain number of signatures to qualify. Youíll need to contact the administrative government offices to find out what you need to do, and by when, to get registered (i.e. if you are running for a state campaign, youíll likely need to contact your Secretary of State).
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Volunteers are an essential part of any campaign. Whether they are your friends and family helping out, or hundreds of passionate volunteers going door to door, you need to be able to attract, coordinate and communicate with these volunteers.
Attracting supporters can be done with through your website, where you can build forms that allow them to sign up to help out. Using BackOffice you can easily generate as many of these forms as you need, including not just their contact info, but also their interests and how they want to help, and have that information import directly into your database, with no additional data entry.
BackOffice also allows you to maintain a group calendar that everyone in the campaign can access, so you can keep your team members on the same page. In addition to being able to keep tabs on your volunteers and select specific groups for specific jobs, like walking precincts or stuffing mail, BackOffice allows you to send out targeted emails inviting groups of volunteers or potential volunteers in to help out.
There are three basic staples of fundraising - lists, labels and letters. That basically means lists of people for the candidate or the fundraiser to call and labels and letters to get solicitations into the hands of potential supporters. If you want to raise money, you have to provide your donors with as many chances to give as you can. That's one of the reasons we offer FundRaiser, so that you can send an email to your donors and give them a link to donate right on your website.
But fundraising requires a well-organized operation. You need a candidate who will make those calls and a system in place that supports the candidate with the necessary information. Every major donor is different. Many may have specific issues they care about and topics to avoid. You certainly want to know whether a donor has given to you in the past and how much room he or she still has under the contribution limit. CompleteCampaigns.com's product BackOffice is specifically designed to help you target, track and communicate with your donors. You can note any special details about a donor and then quickly search on that data. Do you want a list of all your donors who have given you $100 or more and care most about tax issues? You can easily manage that data in our system.
Just like you report your finances on your taxes, your campaign needs to report its donations and spending. And just like your taxes, this can be a nightmare if you're unprepared.
To tackle your reports, you really have two options.
1. You can hire a professional treasurer to do the accounting for your campaign. Very likely, whichever treasurer you bring on will be using a software package that helps them manage their reports. Contact us about referrals >>
2. You can use a software package of your own to do the reports yourself. CompleteCampaigns.com's BackOffice is user-friendly software that takes the headache out of government reporting. It's like a political version of TurboTax, designed specifically for the needs of campaigns. It provides guaranteed reports, whether you're at the Federal, State or Local level, in addition to thousands of other campaign-specific features.
BackOffice also has 24/7 free emergency support, since we understand that political campaigns work need their problems solved right now, not next Monday. And since BackOffice is web-based software, you can access your information from virtually anywhere.
Voter data is the public records of all the registered voters, including names, addresses, party affiliations, and more. There are several good sources of data, starting with your local registrar. Many campaigns want to get data from a vendor, because they often provide updated and more accurate information. But vendor data can come with a pretty hefty price tag, especially if you're working with a smaller campaign. Finally, local party organizations will often maintain voter lists that they will provide to their campaigns.
The data is often in a format you can open like a spreadsheet, but with thousands or even millions of people and dozens of columns. You could use a program like Excel to view it, but it would be unmanageable and impossible to maintain. Excel typically can't be used to allow multiple people to access it and then there are the questions about how you would get the information you're looking for. What if you wanted to create multiple walk sheets for your volunteers to go door to door? How would you know who lives near who?
Using Excel for voter data just isn't workable. You can see a side-by-side comparison here.So what is your alternative?
CompleteCampaigns.com's VoterManager is specifically designed to help you with this data. It offers customized walk sheets, detailed information on each voter in one easy-to-understand page and a simple tool for pulling out the targeted lists of voters you want. And like BackOffice (link), itís web-based, which means you donít need to deal with maintaining and backing up the data.
This means getting registered voters out to vote. Plain and simple. But you know how hard it can be to convince just one person to do that, let alone tens of thousands or even millions of people.
This is one of the most challenging, and yet essential, steps to running an effective campaign. It involves running an effective field campaign, which means organizing your volunteers to target specific voters on specific issues.
Create walk sheets by issue, location, and more.