Fundraising and Finance
How to Earn Political Endorsements
March 27, 2021
Voters may decide to support a candidate for many reasons. Political campaign endorsements are one. Earning endorsements adds credibility to the values and policies of a candidate.
Political campaign endorsements grant candidates approval from political organizations, the media, or community leaders. This gives certain voters confidence that a candidate puts their interests first.
Over the course of a campaign voters attend rallies, watch candidates in the media, and talk to their networks to understand who they should vote for. If they find a candidate who is endorsed by a group that represents their interests, they may be more inclined to vote for that candidate.
For example, an immigrant family may have values that align with other New American political leaders. So, if a first-time candidate is endorsed by the New American Leaders Action Fund, that could sway their vote and the support of new voters.
Endorsements provide more than a stamp of approval for a political campaign. They also rally the power of the endorser’s membership and audience on behalf of the candidate.
Here’s how to earn endorsements:
Do The Research
When looking for endorsements at any level, prepare to make the hard ask. It’s hard to make a good ask without doing research on the endorsement opportunity.
Research the policies relevant to the potential endorsement’s audience and understand how your campaign message aligns. Developing positions on the key issues will help you craft the proper ask. Finally, find out how the formal endorsement request process moves forward.
You can ask these questions to jumpstart this process:
- Is the candidate aligned with a PAC?
- What forms or questionnaires comprise the endorsement process?
- Who are the decision-makers?
At the end of the day seeking endorsements is about building relationships. Take time to get to know local or regional union leaders and members of the editorial board of major media in the area. If these individuals know the candidate, the time and energy invested will pay off when formally applying and asking for their endorsement.
Meet With Membership
It’s sometimes hard to find contact information or the application process for an endorsement on the website of an organization. This is why it’s important to build relationships while researching. Lean on folks who are members of the organization and start a conversation. Listen to them and the issues that matter most to them and their families.
It’s important to have good rapport before making an endorsement ask or even discussing the process. Review your research before entering any meeting to ensure you’re prepared and knowledgeable about the work of the specific organization.
Start The Process
After doing your research and holding meetings with membership, it’s time to start the process of endorsement.
Each organization gives candidates a pathway to formally request an endorsement. Some organizations review requests on a rolling basis and others have hard deadlines.
For example, folks at the New American Leaders Action Fund list these steps:
- The first step is to fill out our endorsement questionnaire.
- Your application will then be scored by two reviewers. If your score is high and fits within our core priorities this cycle, you will be moved into the next round.
- The second round consists of a video conference interview with at least two staff members and/or board members.
- If your interview review is positive, you’ll be recommended for endorsement and the NALAF board will vote on your candidacy.
With most endorsements, you need to complete a candidate survey and meet with stakeholders. These individuals include staff, leaders, and other members of the organization. Once you build those relationships, they can recommend you to the political board of the organization for endorsement.
If you bring campaign materials or business cards, be sure to print these materials using a union printer and include the union bug. This could be a dealbreaker for some unions, as they need to see support for unions from every facet of the campaign to trust the candidate.
Make The Ask
When making the ask, make sure it’s a “hard ask.” Endorsements boost a candidate’s campaign by sharing information with its members. They recruit their members and supporters to attend or volunteer for campaign events. Some organizations even let candidates use their amenities such as venues for campaign activities, while others contribute to a campaign directly. Ask yourself this question, “What does your campaign need?” Make sure to include these things in the ask if the request is feasible.
Unions and other political organizations such as New American Leaders Action Fund want to strengthen their communities. The purpose of their work is to improve the quality of life and regional vitality for everyday Americans. As a result, with your passion and determination, endorsements could be the component that helps win your bid for office.
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