The Commons has been gathering perspectives on the role of elections as part of social change strategies; case studies of past campaigns; guides to different tactics relevant to elections; and tips for maintaining morale and wellbeing on the campaign trail. This guide focuses on the practical skills and tactics of campaigning during elections.
Whether you’re seeking to use the election period to raise issues and apply pressure, or to dislodge/support particular candidates, this collection provides how-to guides and resources regarding the skills and tactics you’ll need to reach your goals. Areas covered include making sure you comply with disclosure obligations, running field and media campaigns, using technology effectively, and wrapping up the campaign successfully.
Note that while the Commons Library links people up with resources to enable engagement with political structures and processes we do not endorse any particular strategy, political party or candidates.
Complying with Electoral Law
Under Commonwealth electoral laws, some advocacy spending and donations may need to be publicly disclosed, and charities and other organisations may need to consider adjustments in how they use or track them. This guide and webinar was designed by the Human Rights Law Centre to help campaigners understand their obligations under these laws. It also explains what is and isn’t considered ‘electoral matter’ and what needs to be listed on some campaign materials.
The Logic & Practice of Field Campaigning
The Ganz approach to organising that was a game-changer for the first Obama presidential campaign. From structuring teams to strategizing, this is an all purpose guide to running effective community based campaigns, including electoral ones.
A review of Rasmus Kleis Nielsen’s Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns which discusses “the nuts-and-bolts reality of what happens in a field campaign” with a “wealth of context and insight for understanding both the dynamics of modern campaigning and the psycho-social currents underneath a campaign assemblage.”
Thoughts and reflections regarding the ethics of electoral canvassing and the use of “Personalized political communication”, communication in which the medium for a message is a person, not the more common media of television, pamphlets, or billboards.
Door-knocking & Phone-banking
A Blueprints for Change how-to guide for having all kinds of conversations about important issues with community members.
A Blueprints for Change how-to guide to using “campaign volunteers to reach out to voters and supporters through phone calls. Phone banking is effective for supporter identification, voter persuasion, event invites, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts.”
Persuasion & Deep Canvassing
A Blueprints for Change how-to guide to having effective persuasive conversations, “exchanges between advocates and their peers or members of the public that surface personal attitudes and perceptions around social issues to shift existing positions or at least open people to a new perspective. When organized at scale, persuasive conversation campaigns, also known as ‘deep canvassing,’ deliberately catalyze as many conversations as possible to achieve impact at a level that could influence voting.”
In this podcast Amanda Tattersall talks to Adam Barbanel-Fried about how his organisation Changing the Conversation Together used Deep Canvassing, door to door conversations that could help voters interpret the election through the eyes of those who they love, to help influence the US 2020 election.
Deep canvass conversations can shift hearts and minds and votes around divisive issues. Caitlin Homrich-Knieling, Deep Canvass Coordinator at We the People Michigan in the United States, presented at FWD+Organise 2021. She shared her story about the success of a deep canvassing approach to rights for undocumented migrants and Medicare for All in Michigan. In this article based on Caitlin’s talk and workshop learn about how her project came up with and developed the script they used when talking to people and about a useful tool called the Cone of Curiosity.
Election Signs & Corflutes
A Canadian article which discusses research about the continuing effectiveness of signs and provides advice regarding design and placement.
Tips drawn from US campaigns about when and when not to use signs as well as the roles they can play in a campaign.
Tips for running events while navigating the risks of Covid-19. Includes tips related to communicating with supporters, QR codes, vaccination policies, and tech packs for hybrid events.
Tips for setting up events that build a sense of the collective, deepen commitment, and move people into action.
A barnstorm is an event held by an organisation or campaign that engages and recruits new supporters and drives people from events to action. This article includes tips and case studies from four Australian organisations in 2019. See also Barnstorming to take Australia by storm for a basic run sheet and key principles.
Other relevant resources:
- Online Meeting Guides to Get Through COVID-19
- Hosting virtual hybrid meetings
- Digital tools to support effective meetings, training and conferences
Scaling Up With Volunteers
Becky Bond was a senior adviser on the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign and co-author of Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything. In this recording she shares tips to scale up efforts, empower members and supporters, and catch the fire of momentum.
This article, and associated webinar, explains how the Sunrise Movement (USA) created a volunteer team structure that powered 6.2 million phone calls in 2020 for electoral impact.
Getting Elected: Tips for Candidates
On the weekend of 26-28 February 2021, Cathy McGowan hosted “Getting Elected”, the first national convention for Australian community-minded independents. This page includes videos of a number of presentations reviewing recent campaigns and sharing skills and resources for independent candidates.
Communications Research & Framing
An introduction to the basics of campaign research for social change advocates. Campaign research helps you get the right message, in the right format, delivered by the right messengers, to the right audience through the right channels.
This collection brings together a number of reports, articles, videos and podcasts concerning how campaigners can best frame and share messages and narratives regarding a variety of issues including climate, crime, equality, nature, poverty and health.
A 2019 report from the US which demonstrates how to “energize and persuade a truly multi-racial cohort to vote for progressive candidates and policies. It argues that the “key for cross-racial solidarity, voter engagement, and policy victories is mobilizing around the connections between racial divisions and economic hardship.”
A media package puts everything a journalist may need together in one place – a media release, photos, a spokesperson bio and background information. This ‘How to create a media package’ has been put together by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Handy advice from the Australian Conservation Foundation about how to make media interviews successful.
Talkback radio remains enormously popular in Australia so it’s a great opportunity to reach millions of diverse listeners. Political staffers often track talkback radio to see which issues are simmering or boiling over and how voters are responding. This guide from the Australian Conservation Foundation provides contact numbers and tips for getting your message across.
Digital strategy insights and tips for not for profits focused on people and relationships and based on a decade of trial and error and research.
General social media tips for political candidates and electoral campaigns.
Learn practical tips from Digital Storytellers on how to make a video with your smartphone including information about what you need, shooting tips and editing.
Email tips and a worksheet to help you when writing to or asking something of your supporters. These resources have been shared kindly by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Sorcha Rochford from NationBuilder presented at the FWD + Organise 2021 Conference held by Australian Progress. Her session shared how NationBuilder had supported customers in running a 2020 election campaign in the US in midst of the pandemic. This summary includes practical takeaways regarding trends in technology and how to share messages and build engagement and trust in communities, as well as target texts and hold hybrid meetings.
A webinar during which Jack Milroy and Mikey Franklin, two campaigners with experience on dozens of campaigns across Australia, the US, Canada and the UK, discuss how to select the right digital tools and platforms to power campaigns, how to strategically choose and frame election issues to maximise the chance of attracting attention, and how to secure commitments from parties and candidates around issues.
Other tech tools:
- Tools Roundup: Apps and digital platforms for Organizers, Blueprints for Change
- Three open source tech tools for your campaigning
- Geographical Information Systems (GIS): A great tool for community organisers
- Tips on using Slack
This article covers frameworks taught in the Community Organising Fellowship for the effective monitoring and evaluation of campaigns, including electoral ones.
Evaluating the impact of advocacy campaigns can seem impossible. Here are three handy guides that can help you undertake effective monitoring and evaluation of your advocacy and campaigning.
Drawing on lessons from the Sunrise Movement this comprehensive guide encompasses a set of analyses that you can do right now, with your data, to uncover insights regarding the success and shortcomings of building people power in your organisation.
After the Campaign
Every campaign, including an electoral one, is a learning opportunity. This guide includes tips for campaigners and facilitators who want to make the most of this through planning for the post-campaign period and setting up debriefs.
An election, like any major project that involves a significant outlay of energy, can take a heavy toll campaigners. This article provides several tips for self and community care.
Australian Greens Victoria ran their 2020 Victorian local government election campaign celebration on Zoom, after the whole campaign was run remotely. They provide a runsheet that can be adapted for other end of campaign celebrations.
- Campaigning - Digital_Virtual
- Campaigning – Election_Electorates
- Door knocking
- Phone banking_Calling