Tips For Better Political Activism

politics2So you’re all excited or worked up about some issue, campaign or candidate and you decide it’s time to volunteer and try to make a difference.  That’s great.  But there’s always a risk that you’ll be overzealous, jump in to anything and everything with both feet and soon get burned out.  When that happens, you won’t have much of an impact on anything.

Here are some political activism tips that will help you stick with it and make a difference for the things you care about.

Know why you’re involved

Knowing “why” you’re involved in something goes a long way towards keeping you involved. It’s that thing that will keep you motivated over the long haul. What’s motivating you? What impact do you want to have? How involved do you want to get? Just be a volunteer or become a leader? What skills do you want to learn or what issue do you want to learn more about? Who do you want to get to know?

If the “why” isn’t enough to make you want to “do”, then “don’t. If you don’t know “why”, you either need to figure it out or do something else.

Make reasonable commitments

It’s much better for you and any cause that you’re volunteering for that you be realistic about what you can do. Think about how you can achieve a happy medium between the time you’re really able to contribute and the needs of the cause or campaign that you’re getting involved with.

Don’t over-commit. In the end, it’s your dependability that’s most important.

Get to know everyone involved

Since politics is about people, personal relationships are the glue that holds everything together. So be sure to attend regular meetings and events as often as possible and get to know everyone involved.

Knowing and networking with other likeminded activists will help you be more effective both now and in the future.

Keep a good attitude

Sometimes “somebody” has to do the tedious, menial, “un-fun” work…like delivering literature all over creation, or calling voters you don’t know. But since it has to be done, attitude is everything. This is why you should be careful about “what” you volunteer to do. Make sure it’s the kind of thing that you can do and still keep a good attitude. As a result you’ll be more productive for the things you care about.

If you don’t stay positive about what you’re doing, you won’t last long.

Go the extra mile

People who are willing to give an extra effort and “fill in the gaps” when necessary are essential to making any cause or campaign a success, not to mention sustaining it. If you know why you’re involved and aren’t over-committed, it’s easier to do more when necessary.

People who go the extra mile stand out…and they go farther.

Recruit others

Any group or cause can never have too many volunteers, (and they never do). Share the vision with your friends, family, and others. Invite them to meetings. Send them updates. The more manpower, the better your group or cause will do.

The more conservatives that get involved in our political system, the better off the conservative movement will be as a whole. The more who get involved at the grassroots level, the more who will eventually be in positions of leadership at higher levels.

Be patient and persistent

If you’re not patient, you’ll probably get a bad attitude, won’t last long and won’t be able to keep at it long enough to make a difference. Remember, things don’t always run on your schedule, especially in politics. Also, persistence is the key to long-term political success. Other people quit. Don’t be one of them.

If you’re patient and persistent you’re more likely to make a difference.

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The purpose of this is not to discourage you from getting involved, but to get you to make sure that you volunteer in a way that you’re more likely to enjoy – and that will keep you involved in the long run.

Seven Ways to Be Prepared for Effective Party Activism

party activismIf you really want to have an impact on something you stand a much better chance if you’re prepared. The same goes for party activism.

I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of getting involved in a political party, and about how parties are organized. But how do you go about trying to be effective over the long haul? What should you do? What should you focus on, and why?

The Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” comes to mind in the sense of being prepared ahead of time for the situations they may face. It’s a good application for party activism.

Here are seven tips for party activism to keep in mind:

1) Attend meetings. Yes, meetings can be boring, but you won’t have much of an organization unless people meet, discuss business and make plans. Be there when they do. In most party organizations, the people who are always there eventually end up in charge of something (for good or ill)!

2) Volunteer. Offer to help out with party functions and volunteer to help candidates with their campaigns. Offer to serve on committees that interest you.

3) Recruit others. The more people you get involved who think like you do, the more effective you can be in the long run, (it’s like a pyramid scheme!). Find other conservatives who want to have an impact. Drag them along. The more the merrier. Teach them what you’ve learned.

4) Cultivate allies. Remember, politics is people, and it’s all about networking. To be more effective, it’s important that you develop relationships with others that will work closely with you and support your objectives.

5) Know the rules. As with most things in life, if you know the rules you’re more likely to be successful. Party rules (and parliamentary procedure) aren’t exactly exciting, but they’re important. Get to know them, at least on a basic level.

6) Watch and learn. Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Keep an eye on what others are doing, (even your opponents), and learn from it. Adopt what works.

7) Stay focused – and involved. People generally don’t throw rocks at those who aren’t having an impact. Success usually breeds opposition. But when it comes, just remember why you got involved in the first place. Don’t let opponents distract you or run you off. Double your efforts!

For new activists, these simple tips will help you avoid being overwhelmed by something that may be new to you. For those who already are involved, they’re a good guideline to help reorient your mind and your time to the simple things that you can do to be more effective.

Remember, if you really want to have an impact, you need to be prepared.

Four top qualities of great political volunteers

qualities of great volunteersIf you’ve ever run or worked on a campaign, been a candidate for office, or just pretty much been involved in politics in almost any capacity, you’ve seen how important volunteers are to political success.

And you’ve no doubt noticed that all volunteers are not created equal.  Some are worth more than others, some better than others, or some are just better at certain things than others.

So what makes for great volunteers?

There are at least four qualities that stand out as the marks of really great volunteers.  Of course, few have them all, but they’re a standard you should reach for when trying to find people to help – or if you’re thinking about volunteering yourself.

Four Top Qualities of Great Volunteers

1) A commitment to the cause

Do they believe in the campaign?  The level of commitment from the people involved in any effort is usually the greatest contributing factor to success or failure.

No matter how desperate a campaign may be for help, if “the help” doesn’t really believe in the cause, then you’re really not going to get much out of them and they’re not going to help you motivate other people.

2) A willingness to sacrifice

Great volunteerism is based on sacrifice.  But good volunteers don’t think of it as sacrifice, but rather as an investment in the things that they care about.

That’s why you’re going to get more support from people who really believe in the cause to begin with.

3) A sense of humility

Who wants to hang around someone who thinks that they’re “too good” to be there?  The type of person who lets everyone else know they should feel “blessed” that they’re around.  They will be less “help” and more “hurt”, in the sense that they can run off people who actually do want to help.

A good volunteer is someone who is able to set aside their ego in deference to the cause that they’re involved with.  Pride and volunteering don’t go well together.

4) A positive attitude

Attitudes are infectious, (both good and bad).  And since nobody wants to work around people with “jerky” attitudes, this is another type of person who can quickly run off the real help.

Good volunteers maintain a positive attitude that encourages others to keep going regardless of circumstances.

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Even though any political effort is usually extremely grateful for any volunteers that it gets, these are some of the qualities of great volunteers that you should keep in mind when looking for people to help your cause.

Run down the checklist. How do you or your volunteers stack up?

Over the long run, it can actually pay to be picky.

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You can find out more tips on volunteers and volunteer management in my Grassroots 101 Training Series.  Check it out!

How to avoid political burnout

burnout 1So you’re all excited or worked up about some issue, campaign or candidate and you decide it’s time to volunteer and try to make a difference?  That’s great.  But there’s always a risk that you’ll be overzealous, jump in to anything and everything with both feet and soon get burned out.

When that happens, you won’t have much of an impact on anything.

If you really want to make a difference over the long haul, you’ll look (and think) before you leap and not make commitments that overwhelm you or that you just get tired of.

Five tips for avoiding political burnout:

1) Know why you’re involved

Knowing “why” you’re involved in something goes a long way to keeping you involved.  It’s that thing that will keep you motivated. If the “why” isn’t enough to make you want to “do”, then “don’t.

If you don’t know “why”, you either need to figure it out or do something else.

2) Be committed

Commitment can keep you motivated when things get boring.  That’s why it’s so important that the “why” is something that truly motivates you.

3) Be positive

Attitude is everything as they say, and it’s not much different with political volunteering.  If you don’t stay positive about what you’re doing, you won’t last long.

This is why you should be careful about “what” you volunteer to do.  Make sure it’s the kind of thing that you can do and still keep a good attitude.  As a result you’ll be more productive for the things you care about.

4) Be patient and persistent

If you’re not patient, you’ll probably get a bad attitude, won’t last long and won’t be able to keep at it long enough to make a difference.  Remember, things don’t always run on your schedule, especially in politics.  Avoid frustration and you’ll be more effective.

5) Recruit others

Many hands = light work.  The more people you get involved to work with you, the more you can get done…and the less you have to carry on your own shoulders.

More conservatives getting involved means good things for the conservative movement.

The purpose of this is not to discourage you from getting involved and volunteering, but to get you to make sure that you volunteer in a way that you’re more likely to enjoy – and keep you involved in the long run.

Remember, political burnout doesn’t help anybody, much less impact the things you care about.

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(Get more tips like these in my “Grassroots 101 Training Series“.  Check it out!)