You’ve done it – after much soul-searching, questioning and exploration, you’ve decided to take your political leadership to the next level by running for elected office. Congratulations!  Now what?

Many candidates struggle with defining the role of a candidate in their first campaign.  “Do I have to do everything myself?”  Or, conversely, “Do I have to do everything everyone else tells me to?”  Good news: the answer to both questions is, “No!”
There is no one perfect way to set up your campaign team – no rules about how many people to bring on board or how to structure their responsibilities or whether/when to take their advice.

But there is one member of the campaign with a clearly defined role: the candidate.  As the candidate, your job is to meet voters, raise money and get elected. You don’t have to go at it all alone, but these three goals should guide how the candidate spends her time and energy during the campaign.

Following are some tips for outlining the responsibilities of the candidate and campaign team during the campaign.

The Candidate Should Not:

The Candidate Should:

Manage her entire campaign herself. Delegate responsibility for the day-to-day management of the campaign to someone else.  Find someone:

  • You trust whole-heartedly.
  • Who is well-organized, detail-oriented and loves multi-tasking.
  • You can confide in and who will be discreet.
Spend her time chasing down every dollar pledged, planning every fundraiser and tracking/reporting every contribution. Directly ask for contributions to her campaign.  The campaign manager or a finance director can handle the details once the ask has been made by the candidate.  The candidate’s role in fundraising is:

  • To get comfortable asking for donations,
  • Make an ask of every person in her networks and
  • Ask for the highest possible contribution.
Draft every press release, tinker in every website detail or hound every media outlet. Be the public face of the campaign.  The campaign manager or a press secretary should take on the finer details of getting your campaign’s message out to the voting public.  The candidate needs to spend her time:

  • Telling her story as often as possible,
  • Defining her campaign’s key messages,
  • Preparing for questions, and
  • Signing off on all quotes and final copy.
Personally attend every event or knock on every door in the neighborhood. Personally meet and talk to as many voters as possible.  The campaign manager or a field director can help decide which events are good uses of your time and which houses have voters in them. A volunteer coordinator can recruit people to help the candidate knock the right doors and make phone calls to people who vote.

To download this article as a PDF, click here: Build Your Campaign Team – Candidate Tip Sheet

For more advice on how to build your campaign team, watch VRL Live! Replay: Building People Power for Women in Politics.