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.

As you make your Get Out The Vote (GOTV) plans, you need to include volunteers. This includes not just the work you need volunteers to do, but how you plan to recruit and organize them.

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. 

This year, GOTV is going to look a bit different. With COVID-19 keeping us from knocking on doors, your volunteers will spend most of their time phonebanking. Instead of encouraging voters to vote early, you’ll encourage them to vote by mail.

We’ve put together a list of the best practices for building your volunteer team ahead of your GOTV push. 

Prioritize the Health and Safety of Your Volunteers

This goes without saying, but during a pandemic, the health and safety of your volunteers and community needs to be a top priority.

Don’t ask your volunteers to knock on doors. Ask them to phonebank, write postcards, or any other creative way you can think of to contact voters.

Start Recruiting GOTV Volunteers Today

Election Day might still feel far away, but people are busy (yes, even during quarantine). 

You’ve probably been thinking about GOTV weekend for months, but most people aren’t planning out their phonebanking schedule for the first week of November.

That means you need to start recruiting today. 

Use a hard ask to get people to commit to specific volunteer shifts during GOTV weekend and on Election Day. Remind them to request Election Day off work so they can volunteer then, too.

Find the Right Ask

If the person is able, always start by asking them to phonebank. With doorknocking unavailable due to COVID-19, phonebanking is your new best way to contact voters.

Not everyone is comfortable contacting voters, so develop a list of follow-up asks for folks who say no. If they feel uncomfortable phone banking, they might be happy to help write postcards to voters. 

Start with Friends & Family

You can and should ask everyone you know to help out with Get Out The Vote. 

Ask your friends and family, even the ones who are not very political. Tell them why this election is so important to you, and ask them to volunteer alongside you.

Encourage and Motivate

If you’re unsure how to encourage and motivate people to volunteer, there are some tried and tested methods for applying gentle pressure:

  1. Tell people about the exciting volunteer work already happening and invite them to be a part of it.
  2. Be clear about the specific goals you need help achieving: “I need to call 240 voters this weekend, and I need two more volunteers to help me do it.”
  3. Remind them that their work as a volunteer will have a bigger impact than their vote alone.

Stay Organized

Every time someone commits to volunteering, make sure to record the shift they committed to, their name, and their phone number. 

If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. You should keep this for your own records, but if you have a volunteer coordinator, you should pass that information along to them as well.

Follow Up & Confirm

Always follow up with volunteers. 

At the least, that means calling or texting volunteers the day before, or the morning of, their shift to remind them to come! Don’t expect volunteers to remember what they committed to - always remind them of their commitment.

Always Ask for More

It can be uncomfortable to ask people for help, especially if we know them. Recruiting volunteers can be awkward and difficult. But it takes people power to win elections - that’s what organizing is all about. So keep asking!

When a volunteer finishes a shift, ask them to commit to the next one before they head home. When they commit to a shift, ask if they can get a friend to commit as well.

It takes all of us, together, to make change. None of us can do it alone. So ask for what you need. You might be surprised by the people who say yes!

Want to learn more about recruiting GOTV volunteers, or campaign volunteers in general? Check out our GOTV course.

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Jacob Vurpillat

Jacob is the Manager of Political Communications for NDTC. Jacob was initially an intern for NDTC in 2016 before moving on to work for both a Chicago Alderman and an Illinois State Representative. After working in Parliament in the Republic of Ireland, Jacob joined NDTC in April of 2018. Jacob is a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in Political Science. Outside of politics, Jacob tries to forget the Chicago Cub's century of losing while enjoying their recent success.