BEFORE YOU STEP INTO THE RING….
Are you ready to run?
“Too many candidates think that once they jump in the race, make announcement that they are running and put up a website, that the money will start flowing in. Nothing could be further from the truth – no one is going to give unless they are asked. You have to make the calls. You have to start early. You have to keep with it.” ~Nicole Ward, Fundraiser –
You have decided to run for political office. It is a noble and all consuming decision, however, before you jump in headfirst into the deep end of a campaign. Before you say, “I know what I am getting into; I have been a long-?term activist and have worked on many campaigns. So I am ready and know what I am getting in to.”
It is important to take some time discussing what a campaign for office at any level means in the “big picture” and the important steps that should be considered prior to filing papers.
Yes, you have an understanding of what it means to run for office, however, being an activist versus being a candidate are entirely different and the key to YOUR success is to acknowledge that you are a novice at being a candidate and to ask a lot of questions from those who have ran before you – both those who have succeeded and those that have failed. Those individuals have been where you are going and will have lessons and insights from their experience that will be invaluable to you and might be the key to your BIG WIN!
In the interim, while you are setting up your key meetings and before you sign the papers that will make your candidacy official, take into consideration and action on the following items:
- Family and Friends: Like any other big life-?changing event, it is very important to have the support from those you love. You are going to have really high moments that you are going to want to celebrate and share and low moments where you are going to want the people dearest to you to give you words of support and encouragement.
Also, let’s be realistic, there is no way you can expect to run a successful campaign if your life partner is not all in with you.
- Work/Employer: Whether you are running for a position at the local water district or for State Assembly the campaign is going to consume your time and focus. If you are self-?employed, then you need to make sure your clients/customers know you are running and that you have made plans to continue to provide them with the quality of service they are accustomed too.If you work for a corporation or organization, including a government agency, you will need to make sure you are not violating your contract by running for a political office. You also need to make superiors aware that you are running for office. NOTE: You may be asked to take a leave of absence while you are out campaigning.
- MONEY: NO MONEY! NO CAMPAIGN! PERIOD. All campaigns…All campaigns require financial resources. So you need to take inventory over your financial resources, this includes your rolodex, both personal and professionally, personal savings and other groups and organizations that you have relationships with. The greatest advantage you can give yourself, as a candidate, is to actually assign dollar amounts to the inventory of your financial resources. That dollar amount will tell you how much money you are able to raise without any assistance/endorsements from any individual or organization that might endorse your campaign and write you a check.
Again, campaigns cost money – PERIOD!
- Campaign Consultants, Fundraisers, Treasurers and the like: Your needs when it comes to consultants of any sort may vary depending on your campaign’s budget and needs. Let’s take a minute to discuss the value of some of the services available for your campaign.
Treasurer – The roll of campaign treasurer is to make sure all the federal and state financial filing requirements are done in a timely and lawful manner. There are firms that can assist you in this, however, if you do not have the budget to pay the monthly fee, then please make sure whomever you choose to play this part takes the time to get educated on what is expected and required of them.
Fundraiser – The reality is the majority of those of you reading this will choose not to spend money on hiring a professional fundraiser. You will tell yourself that the cost is not worth the need or there isn’t enough money in the budget for a fundraisers monthly fee.
This is where I want to again remind you – NO MONEY! NO CAMPAIGN!
For the smaller campaigns, here are some suggestions on how to manage your money and still get some expertise from a fundraiser.
- Ask a local fundraiser if they will help you get organized, including a call schedule for a flat one-?time rate.
- We all have a friend that is detail and financially oriented, ask that friend to hold you accountable by submitting a fundraising call and outreach calendar, review your fundraising list and the dollar amounts you have assigned and most importantly, help you to collect the money from your commitments.
Campaign Consultants – Again, I am sure those candidates considering local office are saying: “Yeah, there is no way I can afford to have a campaign consultant, my total campaign budget is $50K.” While you might not be able to afford the costs of an “on-?call” campaign consultant there are consultants out there who will work with you to ensure your campaign is ran smoothly and successfully. Just make sure that their prices on mail, website and so on – make sense in the market place you live in. Just do your homework and interview a few individuals and firms. Regardless of the race you are running, you want the right fit for your personality and your campaign.
We hope you found these tips helpful and that you take the time to get prepared before you make the decision to run for elected office. The best of luck to you!
At Trujillo Communications, we are a full-service campaign-consulting firm. We recognize that you have a budget. This why we have created a Small Candidates’ Campaign Package that includes all the essentials needed for your campaign to be successful, including some actual in-person strategy and consulting.
To learn more about what we have to offer your candidacy, please email us at Georgine@trujillocommunications.com