The 2018 election cycle was intense, to say the least. Win or lose, it’s tempting to shut down your campaign and move on to your next endeavor now that election day is behind you.
But politics isn’t something you should just walk away from.
Whether you emerged victorious and are preparing to take office or lost the election and are unsure of what comes next for you, you’ve built a robust network of supporters, donors, and volunteers who were behind you throughout your campaign. These people will likely continue to engage with you and support you in whatever comes next—but only if you meet them halfway.
One of the biggest missed opportunities we see officeholders and candidates make year after year is the shutting down of all engagement with their core base of support. Not communicating with these people in a meaningful way between elections can result in wavering enthusiasm for you and your cause, email list decay, and ultimately the need to start from scratch when the next campaign comes around.
The best way to solve this problem? Organize a “forever campaign.”
How it works: take your existing supporter base and give them periodic updates on what you’ve been up to and who and what you’re fighting for. You’ll then go into your next election with an enthusiastic community in your corner and a leg up on the competition. It’s that simple.
Here are three simple steps to get your forever campaign off the ground:
1. Determine what your next step in politics is. If you lost your election, you may want to run for office again in a future cycle or shift your focus to issue-based advocacy work. If you won, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to carry out your constituent services work as well as start preparing for your re-election campaign. With the drawn-out, often multi-year election cycles we have, advance preparation is critical.
2. Adjust your website and communication strategy. Instead of letting your site fade into irrelevance, retool your site with fresh content for your next election. If you haven't yet announced, include personal branding content in the interim. Publish blog posts on your take on current events. Send email blasts with news about your work and issues they care about.
3. Track everything. The relationships you build between now and the next election cycle are critical. Track every conversation with constituents, every meeting with community activists, every endorsement discussion with key organizations. When the next election cycle rolls around you will have a strong personal brand and a core community to help you win.
Forever campaigns are based on the principle that elections are won and lost with the work done between election cycles. Historically, forever campaigns were restricted to only the most well-funded and established incumbents at the highest levels of government. However, with NationBuilder, you can run your own forever campaign sustainably and have a thriving digital infrastructure for your next run.