21st century Campaigning

9th March, 2012 1:17 pm

What does a 21st century party look like for…Field Operations and Campaigning?

Successful campaigns are built on effective candidates, a well thought out strategy, a clear structure, and a vision built upon the priorities of the local community.  Campaigns also hinge on involving and motivating volunteers, and on this count, we’re not always hitting the mark.

Currently campaigning in the party too often fails to properly explain itself and connect the campaigning activity people are asked to do with the vision of the campaign and the longer- term work of the party.  Campaigns are often too hierarchical and suffer from campaign teams which lack the skills and vision to facilitate proper involvement and create a meaningful experience for volunteers. This in turn leads to a situation of us and them in many campaigns – a small number of “elite” roles which develop strategy, plans and undertake creative activities, as compared to the majority who undertake repetitive, low skilled activities which offer little variety, excitement or opportunity for learning.

To motivate volunteers, campaigns must create a wide a range of participatory roles that A) connect to existing skills and interests and B) provide the opportunity for all volunteers to learn new skills and develop as they are involved in the campaign.

The Party should therefore work to support and develop the skills and capacity of campaigners and campaign teams across the country and share best practice between them. This will involve the development and implementation of more up to date technology that enables more autonomy and flexibility of working at the local level.

The Party must also enable local parties and campaigns to see the relationships with their volunteers as “long term investments” and support this culture change with relevant training for campaign teams and in turn learning opportunities for volunteers at all levels.

The new Executive Director will also need to respect locally developed campaign strategies and messages – and support a culture change in campaigning which allow members to listen and talk to the public and build up local  relationships over time.

This post is part of a series produced by LabourList and Labour Values.

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