We were lucky to have speakers who brought a lot of political experience to address us. The benefit is that we were given a very realistic view of the hill (or mountain) that a political campaign has to climb. It was a daunting view, but we will have time to be able to address the work and complexities that we will encounter. Below are a few of the that I took.
The trustee races receive the least attention and resources. They are smaller, but also more strategic. Candidates will need to have a thick skin and a strong ego.
Don’t take advice from just one person. Campaigns are becoming longer (think: a four-year campaign) and more professional. You need to be “always on”, always branding yourself. As soon as you declare your intention to run for office, you are labelled a politician and you lose your credibility. So be professional.
A campaign can be summarized in three words: Indentify, Confirm, Deliver. Campaigns are dynamic and need to respond to their context. Make your campaign meaningful. Clearly define the purpose of each part: eg. why do we have a website? What will it do for us? There is no single tool that will win (or lose) the election, so use all the tools you can. What social media will you use? Why? How? (Beware, it can eat up a large amount of time.) Connect with people in person, at the doors.
Fundraising (or “friendraising” or “FUNdraising”). Approach people you know. If you need $5000, approach 50 people and ask them for $100 each. The trick is in actually doing it. Don’t be shy, it’s a yes/no question. If you aren’t comfortable asking, get someone on the campaign team who can do it. Democracy is expensive and needs to be funded. In this day, find a way to take electronic donations.
Campaigns can be fun, but we don’t do it for fun. We campaign to win. And that’s going to take a combination of desire, luck, hard work, determination, brains, and appetite for risk.
A very comprehensive campaign manual can be found at: www.ndi.org/files/Political_Campaign_Planning_Manual_Malaysia.pdf