How Wendy Wheatcroft made the transition from elementary school teacher, to community advocate, to first-time candidate in San Diego Wendy Wheatcroft’s journey to activism and politics started in classrooms—both during her time as a student and her 15-year career as an elementary school teacher—where she experienced multiple lockdowns and close...
Our partners at VoteRunLead, whose mission is to empower and provide the resources for women to run for office, expect to have 30,000 new women trained to run by 2020, with 60% being women of color. And at NationBuilder, we’re working hard to help lower the barriers to leadership so that more and better leaders can throw their hats into the ring.
And that includes you. You may have thought about running for your local school board, or perhaps your city council. Or maybe you’ve thought about becoming a state representative, or even running for presidential office.
We’re here to tell you to go for it—and here’s why.
We need more and better leaders.
With threats to our environment, democracy, and human rights looming worldwide, we face crises on multiple fronts—and the only way forward is for more leaders to step up and organize.
Take a moment and think about the cause you feel closest to—equal pay, education, the arts? How are you uniquely qualified to stand up for this cause? And how have you maybe already started doing so in your community?
By running for office, you’ll be taking a stand for your cause in an entirely new way, and at scale. Where do you start? Take a moment to explore runforoffice.org, a free database of all current open positions for which you can be eligible to run, where you can quickly and easily know where there are open positions and for what. After that, it’s just a matter of taking the plunge.
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You have a unique story to tell.
Everyone’s path to running for office is different—including what moved them to run, what shaped their views on important issues, and what molded them into the right person to lead in this moment. Think about that cause you care most deeply about. Where did your interest in it first start? How has your passion for this cause evolved over time? And what ultimately pushed you to take action? This unique backstory is what will allow you to connect with your supporters.
For example, during his campaign in 2017, Jagmeet Singh, the current leader of the New Democratic Party in Canada, leaned heavily into his personal story of fighting discrimination all his life, thus providing a glimpse into the experiences that fueled his views on inclusivity and equality. This personal narrative proved to be a powerful foundation, and helped his campaign build and sustain the momentum he needed to ultimately be elected as the first person of color to lead a national party in Canada.
However, a story is only as effective as the platform where it’s told will allow, and that’s where a digital infrastructure comes in. With an action-focused website, Jagmeet not only told his story, but connected with supporters and moved them to action all in one place—and you can too.
Your supporters are out there.
If this is your first time considering a run for office, you might find yourself doubting how much support you’ll get in response to your campaign. First off—this feeling is totally normal; you’re stepping outside your comfort zone to do something big.
But more importantly, building your support base from the ground up is not impossible. Take Birmingham’s mayor, Randal Woodfin, for example—he was a political newcomer who managed to beat a 7-year incumbent by building up his voter base and inspiring thousands of young people to vote for the first time. By implementing the right digital organizing tools, he beat the odds, and became one of Birmingham’s youngest mayors in more than a century.
And with an integrated database, you’ll have all the tools and information you need to turn even the mildest form of interest in your campaign into full-fledged support.
At first, your supporter base might start small, but by keeping them engaged, you’ll not only see your supporters slowly take on more responsibility, but start to recruit more people on your behalf, too.
All fundraising is grassroots fundraising.
There’s a historical misconception that you need to have a large base of deep-pocketed donors to run for office, but the latest numbers prove otherwise. More than 2.3 million individuals have donated $200 or less to the democratic presidential candidates in the first six months of 2019—adding up to almost $110 million from small-dollar donors.
Building a stellar grassroots fundraising strategy is easier than you might think––and with everything from personalized emails for giving your donors the recognition and thanks they deserve, to systems for tracking your top recruiters, and donation pages that allow for one-time and recurring donations—you’ll be meeting your fundraising goals in no time.
Your voice is waiting to be heard.
The people out there who are fired up to support the causes you champion—they need you. You have a unique message that they’ve related to that moved them to action, and hearing from you both gives them hope and helps your platform gain momentum.
For example, candidates like Elizabeth Warren have been making calls to their small-dollar donors to thank them and talk about the issues that are important to them—an act that undoubtedly warrants a ton of supporter appreciation. Now think about that, but on an even larger scale.
Keeping in touch with your supporters might be easy at first, but as your supporter base grows, it’s important to uphold the relationships you started to form early on. This may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. That same integrated database of information, combined with email personalization features like smart fields, allow you to conduct tailored personal outreach to 10,000 supporters in the same amount of time it takes to reach out to 10, helping you continue to build long-term relationships that grow and evolve with your campaign.
In the end, there are a million and one reasons why you should run for office. Some might be external, some might be internal, but the end result is the same—you’re inspired to build the future, and we’re here to build it with you.