Recruiting Strategies

Recruiting volunteers from within the organization builds solidarity and promotes leadership among membership; recruiting from outside the organization builds base and brings in new perspectives.

Part of your volunteer management responsibility is to make sure that the people working on your project who constitute your existing and potential base get the bulk of the leadership training and hold a majority of the leadership positions. The other volunteers – members of other organizations, people that are passionate for a cause, political junkies and the like (see below) – can be wonderful assets, but shouldn’t be allowed to overrun the organization’s structure and goals while working on the election.

Possible recruitment pools:

Your existing members

You may be surprised how an electoral project can get members involved, even if they haven’t been particularly active in the organization in the past. Members of SAGE Council participate in the Native American Voter Alliance because it’s “something that [they] believe in,” Bineshi Albert says. The goals and objectives of voter engagement work provide “a new avenue for people to plug in.”

Voters you meet at the doors and on the phones

Anthony Thigpenn says that ALLERT organizers train canvassers to identify “leads,” voters who seem like they may be interested in volunteering. Canvassers make note of them and phone-bankers later call them to get a commitment. Gloria, an ALLERT organizer who we’ll hear from on the Fieldwork Training page, tells a group of canvassers: “We always want to be recruiting for our organization. Why? Because we want to get double the people that are here today here next week.”

Members of allied organizations and union members…

…. especially if they live and work in the communities you’re working in. SCOPE is part of a large alliance of Los Angeles organizations. They’ve been able to work at such an impressive scale because they have many pools of membership to draw volunteers from.

People who care passionately about the issues you’re raising…

… even though they may not be part of your community. For example, if you’re campaigning to ban an incinerator being sited in your community, recruit environmentalists from other parts of your city or even state.

Political Junkies

People who just like to work on elections. SAGE Council called them “super-voters,” Bineshi Albert said, “people who vote pretty regularly and pretty consistently” and wanted to get involved in election organizing but didn’t want to volunteer for a campaign or political party. She recalls that they “just called us up out of the blue and said, ‘We have been waiting for this to happen so that we can participate in it […] this is a program where we want to volunteer.’”

Click to hear from an organizer

Anthony Thigpenn describes SCOPE's recruiting strategies Anthony Thigpenn: ALLERT trains volunteers to look for leads