Campaigns and Summer Break — Three Suggestions

It’s here! It’s here! Summer is finally in full swing. Kids are out of school, folks are vacationing, so now is the time to kick up your heels and relax, right?


Here are three suggestions for things campaigns can do during the summer:

1. Strategic Planning

If you’ve recently won your election, you need a strong quarter of fundraising total to start in your new role. What issues will you use to start to define your term? How are you going to meet these high expectations?

If you are in the middle of your campaign cycle, what do you need in these summer months to meet your long-term goals? (Which begs the question, do you know what your long term goals are?)

This is also the perfect time to review what worked and didn’t work in the last cycle. Who came through with their promises and who was all talk?

Has your campaign staff taken a (much needed) vacation? Take this time to get your campaign’s historical knowledge written down and stored away.

Use these quiet weeks to analyze the data from the last election and make your plans for the next portion of your political life.

Get the fundraising plan written down with quarterly goals and a specific Q3 breakout. What are your communication and press goals? When are you holding that thank you breakfast for the local volunteers? If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.

2. Thank You’s

Hopefully, you’ve already called your biggest donors, political supporters, and volunteers. If not, quit reading this and get on the phone!

Summer is vacation time, but for many people it’s also the time for a slightly more flexible schedule. With that in mind, this may be a great time of year for meetings with your biggest supporters. Take the time now to grow these relationships. It will pay big dividends.

What about thank you notes to all your donors and everyone else, big and small, involved on the campaign? (This can be thousands of people on bigger races.)

One more quick note while we are here. Do you plan to do a holiday card? Start that process now so you aren’t scrambling the week between Christmas and New Years begging your favorite printer to do you yet another last minute rush mailing. It takes time to get the full mailing list together, pick a card design then, get it printed. (Oh, and that reminds me. Send a personal thank you to your printer!)

3. Database Upkeep

This sounds dull and dreary. It certainly isn’t a part of any sexy campaign movie I have ever seen, but it is a critically important piece of your campaign’s operation.

Have you entered all that data from you’ve collected into your database? Why waste all those hours of volunteers on the phone and knocking on doors if you don’t save what they learned?

If your campaign is like the ones I’ve worked, returned mail is usually “stored” in a cardboard box under an intern’s desk. It is only looked at when it is about to be thrown out during the purge of the campaign headquarters after the election. The box next to it probably contains thousands of pages of results from volunteers on the phone and knocking on the doors. Save these!

Make your campaign more effective and efficient next cycle.

Have you marked the returned mail records in your database so you don’t waste money on them again in the future? Have you researched new contact information for donors who have moved or changed phone numbers?

What about all those “ones” identified by your GOTV efforts? These are voters who were absolutely positively voting for you. These are prime targets for fundraising and volunteering in the future. Get them into your database and incorporate them into your Q3 prospecting plans.

Oh, and of course, take some time with your family. Enjoy the warmer weather and the brief opportunity to enjoy life outside of campaigns and politics.