A good campaign can always raise at least a little more money and recruit more volunteers but I don’t care how awesome you are, you can’t turn back the clock. This means that not only is it important that we don’t waste time, It’s also critical that we kick off the campaign early.
Now, I’m not talking about holding your campaign launch event 5 years out from election day. That’s probably not a good idea. My point is in regards to the candidate’s planning and preparation.
For instance, a friend of mine is a current elected official and would like to run for a major state’s Attorney General office when the current incumbent retires. We don’t know when that’ll happen but it’s likely 5 years off. Instead of forgetting about the idea for 3.5 years, we’re already thinking through the logistics, identifying threats, planning outreach and shoring up his strengths. All of this will make it more likely that he can mount a strong campaign when that seat opens up.
It’s also rare for a campaign to actually launch too early. This is especially true for first-time candidates who are starting at zero on all fronts. If you’re in this position, you need the maximum amount of time possible to identify and persuade voters to support you. When you’re planning your launch, don’t shy away from the early side of the calendar. This will give you more time to let voters get to know you and give you more time out of the limelight to hone your skills as a candidate.
What happened was that I stopped viewing fundraising as a zero sum game. This isn’t just about me taking money from one person and putting it in my campaign account. If my candidate or cause is actually serious about the difference we’re saying we’ll make, then it’s an investment. It’s a positive sum game.
With that outlook, it became much easier for me to pitch donors on supporting my cause or candidate. Because of a shared set of beliefs, I’m asking them to join me in a cause. To invest in a mission that we both believe in. From there, I need to make a clear ask for a discrete cause and give a specific deadline. That’s the ask!
Even with the right mindset though, nobody is more effective at asking for money than the candidate. Their presence and the fact that the candidate is the one making the ask makes it more likely that they’ll say yes. Plus, nobody is as good at sharing the candidate’s passion or beliefs than themselves.
Put these two lessons together and you should be off to a great start as a fundraising candidate. Practice is all that remains!
This tip is true of any aspect of life, not just campaigns, but in the pressure cooker created by a campaign office, I’ve seen these lapses of control cause major problems.
As a leader, equanimity is one of your greatest assets. In the chaos of the campaign, you should stand out as calm. Think about the paintings of old battles with George Washington or Stonewall Jackson standing tall on their horse in the heat of the fighting. Maintaining your cool amidst confusion is one of the greatest tests a leader faces.
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So many of the ‘political’ problems I see candidates and elected officials fall prey to have a genesis in their personal lives. They should have seen them coming a mile away but somehow lost the obvious in a personal blindspot. Today we’re talking about three subjects that I think are vitally important to keeping your house in order and making sure you maximize your political impact while keeping you and your family strong.
Your Brains Trust: I’ve grown up with a strong group of friends that have helped invest in me and keep me accountable. In adulthood, I’ve added to that network through Mastermind groups and dedicated work to develop meaningful relationships. I share some of the ways I’ve done that and the ways they’ve mattered to me. Plus, we’ll discuss how to keep your marriage strong during a campaign.