Community Resources: Volunteer
July 26, 2021
Volunteering in political campaigns is widely favored among youth. According to data by Circle (2020), more than 25% of young adults polled were interested in volunteering for campaigns if given the opportunity to do so. Increasing opportunities for youth to be involved as volunteers on political campaigns offers great advantages to campaigns by increasing their outreach capabilities, especially among younger voters who may be more convinced to vote when reached out to by their peers. Volunteering for campaigns also improves youth political skills, knowledge, and motivation as they provide opportunities for young people to learn that their voices and actions are welcomed and valued in our political system.
A good way to start looking for volunteering positions is looking up your local political candidates and signing up through their candidacy websites. A simple google search of “volunteer positions in political campaigns” can also help to find positions.
It is important to determine which campaign to volunteer or aid. Picking a campaign party can sometimes be a confusing and difficult job. It is best to pick campaign parties that closely align with your core ideals so you can easily expand on the parties’ values and beliefs when outreaching to the general public. Another way to determine what campaign to aid is by listening to the voices of fellow youth and the public. People tend to vote for those who can personally connect with them and listen to their voices and concerns. If a lot of people favor certain values that are desired in the next political figure, then campaigning with that political figure may be ideal for making the public more receptive to voting for certain candidates or issues.
Sometimes landing a spot on a campaign is about who you know, so network with your colleagues, classmates, and your community. It is best to know what volunteering for a political campaign is all about. Ben Rajadurai, an executive director from the College Republican National Committee suggests volunteering for local races first to really get your foot in the political campaign world. In Fuller’s (2020) article, Rajaduari emphasizes that “You have face-to-face interaction with the (local) candidate every day and you learn more. (Ultimately), they’re the ones that make the decisions that impact your day-to-day life the most.”
Another thing to take into account is whether you are willing to travel with the campaign party. Many big political campaigns, like those running for governorship, senatorship, or presidency need workers who have the ability to travel frequently to reach out to as many diverse voters as possible. Another thing to take into consideration is how long you would be volunteering for the campaign. Some campaigns like the ones listed previously would want you to be involved in their campaign until election night. And yet another important factor to take into consideration is whether you are willing to do this demanding job without pay. Take note of volunteer requirements for different campaigns and determine how much time and dedication you are willing to offer. As mentioned in Fuller’s (2020) article, “youth can start as a volunteer on campaigns and apply for paid positions in the next cycle.” Ben Rajaduari himself, started out volunteering as a canvasser on congressional campaigns during high school, later moving into a paid position as a volunteer coordinator on local campaigns.
A typical assignment for volunteers on political campaigns is phone banking (cold-calling voters). Volunteers help to identify where people stand in terms of support for a candidate and try to persuade undecided voters. Volunteers also call voters to encourage turnout among people who support the candidate, and remind them how, when, and where to vote. Another campaign activity is canvassing (door-to-door knocking), where volunteers hand out information to potential voters and inform them about their candidates’ issue positions. Other assignments available include conducting research, fundraising, and collecting signatures for petitions.
If you are curious about volunteering for campaigns, give it a try and get a feel for it. If a campaign doesn’t click with you, try a different campaign. If you don’t want to campaign for a candidate, you can join political efforts that solely focus on registering people to vote. Due to COVID-19, there are currently certain protocols being mandated in certain cities and states. A covid test or proof of vaccination may be required before volunteering. Masks may also be mandated for all workers and volunteers. Please check with the campaign you are planning on volunteering with about these different protocols!
Fuller, J. (2020, January 10). What to Know About Volunteering for a Political Campaign. Rewire. https://www.rewire.org/volunteering-political-campaign/.
Youth Volunteering on Political Campaigns. Circle at Tufts. (2020, March 17). https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/youth-volunteering-political-campaigns.