Resources from the Kelly Q&A - National Democratic Training Committee

Monthly, we provide learners the chance to engage with NDTC CEO and Founder Kelly Dietrich in a virtual Q&A. This format offers Democratic candidates, staffers, and local leaders the chance to get pressing campaign questions answered. While each month covers a different theme involving campaigns, certain panels feature talks with special guests from the Democratic ecosphere. 

To get the most out of attending a Kelly Q&A, take a look at our Participating in a Kelly Q&A Best Practices guide. This will give you tips on what to do before, during, and after the event to maximize your learning potential. 

Similar to our Virtual Live Trainings, Kelly Q&As reference resources from our vast library including courses, blog posts, and more. These handpicked, curated resources give learners everything they’ll need to tackle campaigning. If you’re looking for a recording, we also have select recordings up on our YouTube channel!

So, don’t worry about missing out on these resources, if you aren’t able to attend a Q&A. We’ve compiled them right here for access anywhere, anytime.  

Back to Basics

August 18th, 2022

Raising Money: Money is the fuel for any campaign. In this course, you’ll learn new and time-tested methods for raising the money your campaign needs — from how to use social media to good, old-fashioned phone calls (they still work!).

Finding New Donors: By supporting your candidate as they engage new potential donors, have one-on-one meetings with donors, and maintain those relationships, they’ll be much better positioned to make the hard asks that generate the revenue your campaign needs. After taking this course you’ll be ready to do just that!

Thanking & Following Up with Your Donors: Call time is likely your biggest source of revenue in your fundraising plan, but it will only be successful if you create an effective pledge chase and thank you program. If you don’t follow up with donors, most of your pledges will never materialize. And then once they do come in, you absolutely must thank them for contributing. We’ll show you how to systematize these follow-up and thank-you processes to save you days worth of time and effort over the course of your campaign. 

How to Adapt Your Political Campaign’s Fundraising Plan: Your campaign’s fundraising plan is a living document that details the financial goals, tactics, and deadlines to raise the money your campaign needs to win. The Fundraising Team should regularly revisit their Fundraising Plan and adapt it to the needs of the campaign. 

How to Build Your Campaign Communications Strategy on Different Media Platforms: To build your campaign’s communications strategy, you need to know which tools you have at your disposal. Perhaps even more significantly, you want to know what those tools are for and when they are most appropriately applied. Thinking critically about how your campaign spends its money and time to connect with voters is a must for any successful communications professional.

Campaign Communications and the Media: Working with media professionals and outlets extends the reach of your campaign and keeps your candidate in the public eye. The media can help you build a relevant, sustaining message for your voters to read, see, and hear. 

Why You Need To Leverage Digital: The Digital team boosts every goal a campaign has. In communications, you must recognize the value of digital tools and strategy, as well as how to use it to keep your messaging fresh! 

Maximizing Your Volunteer Capacity: On every campaign, there is more work to be done than paid staff to do it. Building strong and purpose-driven relationships with your volunteers will help you identify who to delegate which tasks to and who is ready for more responsibility. These types of relationships require intention and trust to create.

Building Your Network: Donors, Volunteers, & Validators: You’re not going to win your election on your own. Successful candidates cultivate their full network of friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, and newfound supporters — and organize those folks to help them implement their campaign plan.

Engaging Volunteers Through Powerful Experiences: Deepening relationships and engaging volunteers is crucial to building a strong Democratic infrastructure. Hear how Lucia Nuñez of the Biden-Harris Victory 2020 Coordinated Campaign’s National Training Team did it. 

Recruiting GOTV Volunteers: As Election Day draws nearer, you may be wondering how you can accomplish everything you need to get done. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Wouldn’t it be great if you had some extra help? That’s where volunteers come in. 

Best Practices For Call Time: Every campaign needs money. Political fundraising calls are the most efficient way to fundraise with limited resources. This practice is known as call time, and it’s the single most important fundraising tool your campaign has. 

Voter Targeting: Most campaigns don’t have the time, money, or people to talk to every single eligible voter, nor is this a good use of those resources. This course helps determine which voters a campaign should communicate with and the best strategies to reach them to be efficient and effective with resources. 

Staying on Message: People remember little of what they hear, so it’s important everything a candidate says comes back to their core message. While redundancy seems excessive, repetition makes a message stick.Depending on the person, it takes 7 – 20 times for an individual to easily recall a message. Here’s three steps for staying on message! 

Reaffirm your why: This political campaign messaging worksheet is a series of questions, which can be used to define a candidate’s reason for running. These questions can be filled out by the candidate, possibly with the assistance of campaign staff, and can be revisited throughout the campaign. 

It’s GO-TV Time! 

July 21st, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to GOTV: As Election Day approaches, it’s time to make this hard work count. This is where Get Out The Vote (GOTV) comes into play. GOTV is when your campaign takes the support it receives and turns it into votes at the ballot box.At NDTC, we know GOTV is one of the most difficult aspects of a campaign. So we’ve compiled all the resources needed for success.

Determining Your GOTV Universe: During GOTV, the focus of voter contact efforts shifts from convincing voters to support the campaign (persuasion) to mobilizing them to the polls for your candidate. Learn how to identify common threads without your voter base and determine which voters your campaign will contact during GOTV.

Your GOTV Universe Worksheet: This resource explains how to find your GOTV universe, including vote goals and vote totals. Calculating who potential voters are helps prioritize outreach and GOTV efforts.Knowing who to persuade, and how best to target them, is helpful in planning a GOTV campaign.

GOTV (Course): After working hard for months earning voters’ support, it’s time to make sure they get to the polls and actually vote by using a targeted and effective Get Out the Vote (GOTV) strategy. While this course is designed specifically for candidates, everyone from campaign staff to local leaders can use these tactics.

What You Need to Know: Your 2022 Early Voting Guide: Voters in many states are extremely limited to the times and places they can show up to cast their ballots and make their voices heard. Forcing voters to show up in person to vote has long been a form of disenfranchisement towards marginalized communities, excluding their voices when they matter most. The purpose of this early voting guide is to ensure your vote is counted in both the primaries and on election night. How to Switch from the Persuasion Phase to GOTV: The GOTV, or mobilization, phase is the final stage of a campaign’s Field operation. It starts at the end of the persuasion phase when constituents have been convinced to support your campaign. In GOTV you turn your focus to getting those voters to the polls. 

Understanding Your Campaign’s GOTV Timeline: Campaigns shift into the GOTV stage of a campaign at different times. While many campaigns move into GOTV approximately two weeks before the election, others will begin their operations as early as a month before Election Day.

Field Tactics: Talking to voters one-on-one is one of the best tools you have to persuade them to support you, so you have to make sure you’re doing it right! In this course you’ll learn tried and true tactics to greatly improve voter contact efforts.

Why We Apply Social Pressure in GOTV Conversations: Social pressure is the direct influence on people by peers. It causes an individual to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors. When it comes to voting, social pressure is useful because when voting is viewed as a social norm, there’s intrinsic motivation to actually vote. 

Recruiting GOTV Volunteers: Recruiting GOTV volunteers is essential to your efforts. There are people out there who will help you turn out Democratic voters this election season, but they will only help if you ask. 

Winning the Messaging Battle

June 16, 2022

I have a very diverse electorate, and I’m not sure how to represent all of them in my campaign message. How do I craft my core message and what platform would you recommend I run on as a candidate? 

  • How To Craft a Core Political Campaign Message: Before you can start talking to voters and building support, you need to know what you’re going to say to them—you need to develop your core political campaign message! 
  • Political Campaign Messaging Basics: Campaigns that consistently articulate well-tailored messages and connect to their many audiences will be much more likely to succeed than those that adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to communication. Use this Stump Speech example to get started! 
  • How to Prepare Your Candidate for Political Events: Take 8 minutes to learn how to prepare your candidate for political events. You’ll walk away knowing how to research the political event’s details; brief your candidate on logistics, attendees, and their role at the event; and debrief the event with your candidate. 

Why is staying on message so important and what could happen if my campaign doesn’t? 

  • Staying on Message: People rarely remember everything said on the campaign trail. Most of the time, they only take in parts of your speech. So, staying on message throughout a political campaign is imperative. While redundancy seems excessive, repetition makes a message stick. 

I’ve written my stump speech, now I need to use it. Where could I use my stump speech in my local community? 

  • How to Write a Stump Speech: Learn how to use storytelling to create a stump speech, and draft a standard three-minute version of a stump speech with our course on How To Write a Stump Speech! 
  • Stump Speech Examples: A stump speech is one of the first and most important opportunities a campaign has to introduce voters to the candidate. Audience members should walk away from a candidate’s stump speech with a clear understanding of who the candidate is and the positive impact their positions will have on the community they hope to represent. 

What are some things I should keep in mind when targeting voters with my campaign’s message? 

  • Reaching Voters Through Communication: A political campaign communications plan has four primary goals: to create, amplify, manage, and adapt your message. This will familiarize voters with the goals and values of your campaign. Read three groups of voters your communications plan must help you reach. 
  • Targeting Voters: Most campaigns don’t have the time, money, or people to talk to every single eligible voter. This course helps determine which voters a campaign should communicate with and the best strategies to reach them to be efficient and effective with resources. Learn how to target voters by voter history, demographic data, and geography, as well as determine the strategies to reach your targeted voters. 

You Can’t Say Victory Without Volunteers

May 19, 2022

Where should I go to recruit new volunteers? And how do we persuade those who might want to volunteer for our campaign, but might be hesitant to commit?

  • Intro to Volunteer Recruitment and Management: You can learn how to identify your campaign’s volunteer needs and recruit people to fill them, how to conduct effective training sessions for your volunteer leadership team, and how to manage your volunteers to keep them coming back. 

What is the ladder of engagement and how do I design experiences to build meaningful volunteer opportunities

  • Maximizing Your Volunteer Capacity: You can learn more about how to identify when a volunteer is ready to do more and expand their responsibilities, how to use 1:1 conversations to assess the capacity of your volunteers, and delegate work to support the team.
  • Engaging Volunteers Through Powerful Experiences: Deepening relationships and engaging volunteers is crucial to building a strong Democratic infrastructure. Hear from Lucia Nuñez (loo-SEE-uh NOON-yez), the Deputy National Training Director at the DNC on how she designs experiences for her volunteers. 

How do I assess who are the right people to be on my volunteer team?

  • Building Your Volunteer Team: You can learn how to identify your campaign’s volunteer needs and recruit people to fill them, how to conduct effective training sessions for your volunteer leadership team, and how to manage your volunteers to keep them coming back. 
  • Building Your Network: Donors, Volunteers, & Validators: Successful candidates cultivate their full network of friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, and newfound supporters — and organize those folks to help them implement their campaign plan.

My district has a lot of surface area to cover, and I can’t be everywhere at once. How do I manage volunteers if I can’t be with them on a regular basis?

  • Running a Distributed Organizing Program: Campaigns use distributed organizing programs to leverage volunteers during voter contact efforts across a large geographic area. Learn about the structure of a distributed organizing program and how to identify opportunities to use their organizing tactics. 
  • Relational Organizing: Whether you’re ushering a local party through multiple building and election phases, or just someone who wants to see their community more politically engaged and equitably represented, relational organizing is a strategy that can produce real, lasting results for progressive candidates and causes. 

Some of my volunteers are hesitant to be in a campaign office due to COVID19, despite our office following strict public health guidelines. Can some of my volunteers go virtual? If so, what is the best way to use those volunteers?

  • How to Train Volunteers to Phone Bank: COVID-19 has made campaigning a completely different process. But you can train your volunteers to phone bank, build camaraderie among volunteers, and create voter contact rockstars virtually! 
  • How to Train Your Volunteers on Peer-to-Peer Texting: There are many ways that campaigns are using their volunteer texting efforts to move voters to action, such as identifying existing supporters and persuading people on the fence. Learn how to teach best practices for peer-to-peer texting, establish your resource bank, conduct multiple authentic conversations faster than phone banking. 
  • How to Train Campaign Volunteers on Vote by Mail: Adding a Vote-by-Mail (VBM) program to your field plan covers nearly every angle your campaign needs to ensure your voters can safely cast their ballots. Educate staff and volunteers on your state’s rules for voting by mail, pPrepare your staff and volunteers to communicate with voters, and set your team up for success with vote-by-mail data tracking!

My team is growing and I can’t train every volunteer. How do I choose volunteers who would be good at training, and how do I train the trainer?

  • Training Campaign Volunteers: Volunteers are a pivotal component of any successful campaign and they rely on your leadership team to provide excellent training in order to be successful. Set the tone and expectations for volunteers, coordinate a successful training session, and develop campaign volunteers into leaders. 

What are the biggest mistakes you see campaigns make when it comes to building their volunteer teams?


Field Plan Secrets Your Opponent Doesn’t Want You To Know

April 21, 2022

Calculating Your Vote Goal: Learn how your vote goal impact your field plan.

Intro to Field: Understand the goals of your field plan. Then, learn to break those down into segments so you can evaluate if you’re are on track.

Field Tactics: What are the different field tactics we should consider as part of a bigger plan? How do we navigate which are right for our campaign? 

Targeting Voters: How do I prioritize the voters I reach out to? 

Running a Persuasion Field Program: Develop a layered approach to direct voter contact in a persuasion program.

Votebuilder 101: Votebuilder is a powerful tool, but it can feel overwhelming at first. Here’s what you should use it for, and how you can get access. 

Votebuilder for Field Directors: Utilize the tools available in VoteBuilder to make sure you’re targeting the right voters.

Votebuilder for Data Management: Create systems within VoteBuilder to efficiently track key metrics.

Running a Distributed Organizing Program: How can local party leaders and organizations best support campaigns in their field efforts? 

Running a Voter Registration Program: Develop systems of accountability for your team’s voter registration program.

Running a Ballot Access Program: Determine the appropriate tactics for your campaign’s situation.Relational Organizing 101: Learn how relational organizing tactics can be used to supplement a traditional Field program.

The Building Blocks of a Strong Campaign

March 17, 2022

All strong campaigns are built upon a foundation of a few key elements. These are the cornerstones of your campaign and will set you up for success. Which means it’s incredibly important you invest time and energy into these strong foundational pieces now. But how? And where do you prioritize your efforts?

Kelly digs into these crucial pieces of strong campaigns to help you focus on what matters.

Getting Your Campaign Off the Ground: Find our course here on the fundamentals to get your campaign up and running to set yourself up for success on day one! We also have our 30 Day Challenge and our Campaign CoPilot that will give you steps to take to get you campaign ready to go through election day! Sign up for copilot here:

Raising Money: Learn new and time-tested methods for raising the money your campaign needs — from how to use social media to good, old-fashioned phone calls (they still work!).

Making the Ask: Asking others for help doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Learn to overcome your discomfort, and take the first step in securing critical funds for your campaign.  

Preparing for Call Time: Any campaign will need to invest time in donor research in order to gear up for fundraising calls. You’ll also need a properly formatted call sheet, and a priority list to get started. 

Staffing Call Time: How can you maximize your campaign’s Call Time effectiveness? These are some of the best practices for both candidates and staff. 

Rolodexing Template: For fundraising you have to exhaust you personal networks and resources. Rolodex anyone and everyone. With our template, you’ll go through and give them two grades: how like are they to give and how much they will give. You have to be comfortable, bold, and aggressive. And don’t forget to use your story of self to garner the support you need from those individuals.

Campaign Events: Without proper planning, events can be a drain on valuable resources such as time, money, and people. In this course, you’ll learn how to make events work for you, and not against you.

Running in a Red District: Vote Goal and Vote Targeting Do you fear that your Democratic campaign message will conflict with the opinions of many local voters? This course gives pointers on how to stick to your values without isolating those who aren’t as progressive in their opinions.

Persuading Voters in a Red District: There’s always commonality to be found among voters, even in contentious election cycles. This piece covers the best methods to building relationships with local voters during the persuasion phase of your campaign.

Upcoming Event

Calculating Your Vote Goal: Everyone knows your vote goal is important, but many candidates can start out confused on both how to get the data and how to use it effectively. Join us with any questions you may have on March 23rd!

How to Establish and Launch a Winning Campaign

February 17, 2022

February’s Q&A is all about the initial nuts and bolts of establishing a winning campaign.

Navigating the logistics of campaign building can feel overwhelming at first. You’ll need plans for fundraising, message crafting, and a field plan too. This Q&A with Kelly gives learners the chance to ask their questions around these issues and receive advice based on Kelly’s on-the-ground experience. 

Alongside the Q&A, NDTC has put together the following collection of resources to help folks make their way through these initial steps: 

NDTC Resources

Getting Your Campaign Off the Ground: This course walks you through the first steps of launching your campaign, including registering your campaign committee and getting your name on the ballot. 

Getting Started Checklist: This checklist will help you make sure you’re following all the necessary steps for properly establishing your campaign, including establishing a campaign committee, creating a budget, campaign staffing, and more. 

Intro to Volunteer Recruitment and Management: Knowing how to recruit and manage volunteers effectively is critical to setting up a successful campaign. This course will walk you through how to navigate this area successfully. 

Using Personal Stories to Connect: Take this course to learn how to use stories to emotionally connect with voters. The best stories will inspire others, communicate your values and priorities, and easily adapt to different audiences. 

How to Craft a Core Political Campaign Message: Take this course to learn how to craft and stick to a concise and clear core political campaign message. Remember, you’ll be communicating this message to each and every voter, donor, and volunteer you encounter. That’s why this is a crucial stepping stone for you campaign. 

Political Campaign Plan Template and Guide: Your campaign plan is a bird’s eye view of how all the different elements of your campaign will function. The elements of a campaign plan will include seven distinct items. These include a district overview, field plan, fundraising plan, communications plan, budget summary, compliance plan, and a legal plan. 

NDTC Fundraising and Finance Resources

Budgeting and Financial Compliance: Like any organization, campaigns need an organized budget and a system for tracking inflows and outflows of money. Check out this course for a guide to best budgeting and financial practices. 

Writing Your Fundraising Plan: Fundraising is the lifeblood of your campaign and requires intentional planning and research. Use this course to learn about what goes into creating an effective fundraising plan. 

How to Build Your Fundraising List (Mini-Lesson): Finding sources of revenue is one of the most important and most daunting elements of starting a campaign. Our mini-lesson will slow things down and take you through the process of building out your fundraising list. 

Complying with Campaign Finance Laws: Our course will take you through the ins and outs of navigating campaign finance laws, including donating guidelines and reporting requirements. The consequences of failing to comply with these laws make this course paramount for those setting up a campaign. 

Non-NDTC Resources

State Filing Deadlines: Click here to see your state’s filing deadline for the 2022 primaries.  

Run For Something’s Beginners Guide: This guide from Run For Something will walk you through the important steps and considerations to follow as you begin to put together your campaign. 

Candidate Recruitment Q&A with Ashanti F. Gholar

January 20, 2022

2022 starts with a special Kelly Q&A on candidate recruitment with Ashanti F. Gholar, President of Emerge, an organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office. Kelly and Ashanti dove right in, talking about considerations in recruiting candidates for office. Ashanti also illustrates how Emerge implements these key components into their work.  

The following resources were chosen to build the framework Democrats need to confidently approach this topic. Here we go:  

Political Candidate Recruitment: One of the first and most crucial steps to drive change in your community is political candidate recruitment — but finding potential candidates to run for elected offices in your area is easier said than done. Candidate recruitment can be one of the hardest tasks for a local leader. This course teaches you a proven candidate recruitment process. You’ll learn to identify the traits of a good candidate, how to persuade them to run, and best practices for supporting them.

Candidate Support Plan Template: Running for office can be daunting, so your candidate is going to need lots of support. This template will guide you through the various ways you can be the support they need. In other words, it’s the foundation to create the strongest campaign possible. 

See More

Next Live Training
NDTC National Candidate Bootcamp: Field Deep Dive

June 3, 2023

12:00pm - 5:00pm (ET)

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The training and tools you need, when you need them. Courses are available 24/7. Are you a candidate, campaign staffer or volunteer, at the beginning stages of your campaign or in the home stretch? We have the courses to address your specific needs and arm you with the knowledge to win.

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