ADVICE: Building your campaign team

In a single ward election, your team doesn’t need to be huge to win. Just sharing the load between a few committed people will make victory achievable and the process a lot more fun.

You’ll want to engage as many people as possible for your team of volunteers. But this is not the case with your core team which should be kept small. Larger teams mean big meetings which will slow you down; campaigns require speed and decisiveness. The team should be able to meet regularly and make decisions quickly and effectively. Try to choose people who will work hard and lead by example.

If you’re aiming to fight multiple areas on the same day, it will often be useful to have the same core team in place for all the areas. The team will then be able to make decisions about the whole area without duplication.

The basic core team should include:

  • Candidate
  • Campaign manager/agent (or both if these are not the same person)
  • Literature manager
  • Data manager
  • Media manager

Leadership: Job roles for the core team

The core team will lead the campaign, taking responsibility for the strategy and its implementation. As well as the overall leadership – and in the agent’s case legal responsibility for the campaign – each member of the core team has their own individual responsibilities:

  • Candidate: The figurehead, who will through necessity, provide leadership to the wider team, particularly in regards to canvassing and fundraising. It is vital that the rest of the core team respect the candidate’s views. It is different when it’s your name on the leaflets! But it is also important that the candidate shares control and the overall planning with the core team. After all it is teams not individuals that win elections.
  • Campaign manager/agent: These are two jobs, but they can easily be combined. The campaign manager is the overall campaign organiser. They will provide internal leadership and bring the team together, making sure that every other role is being filled successfully. The agent’s role is a complex and responsible one. All agents should read both the Agent’s Manual and the Basic Election Law book to get a full grasp of the role. Needless to say the final legal buck for everything stops with the agent, so all major decisions must involve them.
  • Literature manager: Responsible for the creation of literature and arranging the print and distribution of it according to the plan.
  • Data manager: Responsible for collecting and using the data the campaign needs to run. They should learn to be proficient in Connect.
  • Media manager: Responsible for press, social media and making sure the overall message is consistent with the pre-agreed messaging grid.

Together the team should plan out the campaign, it is never too early to start this process. Indeed you can do it without a candidate if necessary.

Diversity in the core team

We should seek wherever possible to build a core team that is as diverse as possible to avoid ending up a small group of similar people. There’s plenty of evidence to show that boards make better decisions when they are diverse, this is no different for the Liberal Democrats, so make it a priority to create a diverse team.

Building your wider team: what and who to ask

When growing your wider team you’ll want to find activists to fit a number of roles:

  • Deliverers: Successful campaigns will look to deliver leaflets all year round. To do this most effectively you should look to build a team of volunteers that are happy to deliver leaflets for you. Aim to have one deliverer for every 100 houses (be aware this is hard to sustain).
  • Wholesalers: Find volunteers to take the rounds of leaflets in their bundles out to your delivers. Taking leaflets to your deliverers is a time-consuming job. Aim for each wholesaler to take leaflets to about 10 deliverers in a geographical area.
  • Canvassers: Ideally, you want more than just you to go out and talk to voters, or to canvass on the phone. You can never have too many canvassers.
  • Clerical workers: You’ll need a team to count leaflets into rounds, stuff letters and do clerical work. This job is suitable for people who might not want to canvass or deliver.
  • Members: Members are the life blood for our party. Going out and getting more, grows your team, your voice and can earn your local party money.
  • Polling day and postal vote polling day volunteers: Polling day and postal vote polling day require lots of people to be effective. You’re going to want to book people in early to help!
  • Poster team: To put up your election posters, manage thank you notes, repair broken ones and plan a high visibility campaign.

Who to ask

Everyone has something unique that they can offer don’t be afraid to think outside the box about how people can help. Successful and embedded local parties often have hundreds of volunteers, but that can take years. Many people won’t be lucky enough to have a pre-built network of helpers in their area, so it’s important that we look at some of the key groups of people that we should ask to help.

  • Helpers: Make the most of what you’ve got. Over time you’ll have longer conversations with people who’ve agreed to help, so try and find out more about them and their skills. We always need the roles above, but you might find your trusty deliverer is also an accountant who could be your treasurer/auditor or a professional fundraiser who could help you with some pointers.
  • Members: The first and most likely group to help you win. Liberal Democrat members have chosen to join, but depending on where they joined they may never have been asked to get involved. This is the easiest group for you to start talking to. Sometimes the easiest way to ask members and existing helpers to do more is by planning a campaign launch and showing them the plan to make them feel part of it. People will be more willing to give up their time if they know you’re serious and professional. Download our members survey: PDF / PagePlus
  • Family and friends: Many campaigners can get support from friends and family, even if it’s just at election time, or a poster to show their support. If you don’t ask you don’t get.
  • Supporters: You can use Connect to create a list of Liberal Democrat supporters. Depending on how much data you have in your area this could be a big list to work through. Have a go on the doorstep or on the phone and see how you go. We would expect one in ten people canvassed as a Liberal Democrat to do something (even if it’s only having a poster) to help the party.
  • Everyone: When you run out of data you can go door knocking as usual, but make sure you follow up your canvassing with an ask for help.

Say thank you

Saying thank you is free and easy, and by “say” we literally need to “say” it. Of course you can buy cards or cakes to show your appreciation (and you should probably do that too) but just saying the words when a volunteer comes to help and when they leave will make sure they feel appreciated.

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