Organizing Volunteers & Hard Asks

Most candidates cannot reach every one of their voters on their own, so campaigns rely on volunteers from their communities to reach voters on behalf of the candidate. Volunteers can knock doors, make calls, talk to their friends, recruit their friends, offer services to the campaign, and whatever else is needed. Volunteer recruitment should be incorporated into a Campaign’s Organizing/Field plan.

So how can Campaigns best develop volunteers within their district? People volunteer because they want, they can, and they were asked! Even the American Civil Rights & Labor activist Cesar Chavez was first asked to volunteer by an Organizer Fred Ross (read the story here). “He started talking—and changed my life,” Chavez later remarked. “Fred did such a good job of explaining how poor people could build power that I could even taste it.” Even Cesar Chavez was recruited. And he got involved because he wanted, could, and was asked.

Just as important as asking at all is making the ask as effective as possible to prompt action, which is what is often called a “Hard Ask.” A “Hard Ask” is asking people to take action in a way that is:

  • Specific: it asks for the completion of a clearly defined task at a clearly stated time and place
  • Urgent, Relevant, & Important: this specific task matters now and for a clearly important and personal (or otherwise relevant) reason
  • Presumptive & Unapologetic: Presume the person will take action by ending with a question like “What day is best for you to join us for X?” rather than “Could you maybe join us for X?”, for example. Don’t apologize or use weak/uncertain language; while not everyone will be willing and able to participate, for those who are, participating is an opportunity, not a burden

When asking constituents to get involved in your Campaign/Community Organizing, make your ask specific; urgent, relevant, & important; and presumptive & unapologetic.

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