Why you need a campaign plan

What is a campaign plan?

If you've never run for office, creating a campaign plan sounds like a daunting task. It might help to think of a campaign plan in its simplest form as all of the activities you will do, with dates and dollar amounts attached.

For example, you'll need to raise money for your campaign and canvass neighborhoods. Your fundraising will require sending out one mailing to potential donor lists, making phone calls every week in August and holding a fundraising event. 

The voter contact portion of the plan will require you to canvass one neighborhood per week.

Here's what that would look like in a campaign plan:

8/1/2015:       Invites for kickoff fundraising event mailed (cost: $50)
8/1/2015:       Purchase canvassing palm cards (cost: $500)
8/2/2015:      Candidate canvasses Woodland neighborhood (cost: $0)
8/5/2015:      Candidate makes 40 fundraising calls (cost: $0; fundraising goal: $300)
8/9/2015:      Direct mail fundraising piece designed (cost: $0)
8/9/2015:      Candidate canvasses Mill Creek neighborhood (cost: $0)
8/10/2015:     Direct mail fundraising piece mailed (cost: $150)
8/12/2015:     Candidate makes 40 fundraising calls (cost: $0; fundraising goal: $300)
8/16/2015:     Candidate canvasses High Point neighborhood (cost: $0)
8/19/2015:     Candidate makes 40 fundraising calls (cost: $0; fundraising goal: $300)
8/23/2015:    Candidate canvasses Pennington neighborhood (cost: $0)
8/26/2015:    Candidate makes 40 fundraising calls (cost: $0; fundraising goal: $300)
8/28/2015:    Kickoff fundraising event (cost for room rental, decorations, etc.: $200)
8/30/2015:    Candidate canvasses Orange Grove neighborhood (cost: $0)

This is the start of a basic campaign plan. If you add in a "message" section so you're articulating the correct message, you've got a simple plan that will work for most municipal candidates. A more advanced plan will include earned media efforts, advertising activities and a get-out-the-vote operation at a minimum. 

Why do I need a campaign plan?

Without a plan written out, any operation becomes unorganized. Fundraising goals won't be met if the candidate doesn't make scheduled calls. Attendance at events will be poor if invites aren't sent on time. The candidate won't reach enough voters if the canvassing program isn't planned in advance. 

The plan also forces the candidate and his close supporters to agree on how the campaign will be run. Campaigns can become hectic, and decisions must be made quickly. This can cause a lot of tension. A campaign plan helps avoid problems by providing an agreed upon guideline for how the campaign will operate. 

Finally, the plan will allow you to measure the progress of the campaign. Without a plan, you won't know that 6 weeks in you need to canvass 1,000 homes to get to your goal of 10,000 by the end of the campaign. 

Additional Resources

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