Thanks to the internet, everyone is political these days. You can hardly open any social media website without being bombarded with the political opinions of every person who has access to a smartphone. Which is a lot of people!
The question is, how much real change does this bring? If you feel strongly about your brand of politics, whatever it may be, how can you make a difference to the outcome of elections and campaigns? After all, unless you get your candidate into office, the policies you want will never come to pass. Here are a few tips on how you can volunteer for a political campaign online to make a real difference.
Audit Your Skills
If you want to volunteer for a political campaign, online or otherwise, you need to have something to offer. Since this is an online volunteering gig you’re after, that would mean some sort of skill that can be used digitally.
There are more than a few obvious skills that campaigns always need:
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Are you someone qualified in research? Maybe you can help with polling data or setting up surveys. Are you a professional marketing person? There’s clearly a need for people from that profession in political campaigning.
You don’t have to be an ultra-qualified professional or technical person either. Maybe you’re just really good at the whole Instagram thing or are good at spreading the word. The point is that before you can get a gig as a volunteer, you need to know what exactly you’re selling. Since, even though volunteers are not paid, unsuitable volunteers can end up costing a candidate or party a fortune.
Clean Up Your Social Media Image
Before you think of applying to be a volunteer in a political campaign, you should make the effort to go through your social media presence and clean up anything that might make a campaign hesitant to be associated with you.
We all repost memes or have at least one or two off-color comments in our social media past. Try to look at your online presence from the perspective of the campaign itself and decide whether anything would make you look less attractive as a virtual volunteer. If so, consider either closing some of your accounts temporarily or cleaning up the ones that you’ll need during your stint as a virtual volunteer.
Do Independent Campaign Work
While a lot of enthusiasm and the right skills will make you an attractive candidate as a volunteer for an online political campaign, that might not be enough. So why wait to be selected? Stand out from the crowd by doing your part for the campaign independently.
Are you a graphic designer? Why not start making great graphics promoting your candidate or encouraging people to vote for your party. Let the campaign know they’re free to use that content if they like it.
You can also use your existing platform and circle of online friends to canvass for your candidate. You may very well do as much good for your cause as you would have being an official part of the campaign.
It may also make it easier to get in with the campaign in an official capacity. By showing initiative it will either make your application more attractive or increase the chances that you will be noticed and made an offer. However, it’s important that you don’t step on the toes of the official campaign and stay on-brand while not creating the impression of an official association with you.
Join an Official Campaign Group Online
The first and most obvious place to go when you want to volunteer for a political campaign is the official campaign website, social media page or Facebook group for the politician or party you want to support. They will usually have postings for volunteers and many of those positions are going to be for virtual volunteers in particular.
Don’t worry if their main, big-tent campaign site doesn’t seem to have anything or if there’s too much competition. Large political campaigns usually have hundreds of smaller chapters and regional projects you can volunteer for.
As a virtual volunteer, you don’t need to focus on campaign chapters that are close to you either. Any section of the campaign which could use your help is a potential target. So look for the ones that seem the most in need of help and start by offering your services there.
Politics are a global issue more than ever, so why limit your volunteering to your own country? Whoever is in charge affects more than just the citizens of that country. So if you have a preferred candidate or party you’d like to see in charge in another country, why not volunteer to help? The internet turns the whole world into a global village, so even if you don’t have the vote, you can still make your voice heard!
Search for “Virtual Volunteer” Sites Online
“Virtual Volunteers” are people who do exactly what this article is about, except they do it for all sorts of causes. Which means you’re likely to find volunteer opportunities for political campaigns right next to ones for helping hungry orphans.
VolunteerMatch is one site where we found more than a hundred political volunteer projects, which includes voter outreach projects. You may also find opportunities on freelance sites such as UpWork or Fiverr, but be extra careful with these. Which brings us to the next tip.
Be Wary of Scams!
Sadly, there will always be a new scam whenever a new type of online activity emerges. We’ve already seen it with fake donation drives for charity, and that applies to people looking for campaign donations as well.
When it comes to being an online volunteer for a political campaign, be sure to do some homework to make sure that the people you’re providing your time and skills to are actually officially affiliated with the campaign you want to support. More importantly, you should never have to give money to a campaign in order to volunteer. It’s fine to also donate financially, but if it’s a requirement in order to volunteer things are certainly fishy!
Always get third-party confirmation that whoever you’re being offered a volunteer position with is above board. It usually doesn’t take much effort to ensure that you aren’t being taken for a ride!
The Digital Political Game
The use of virtual volunteers is still quite new, as is the importance of crowdsourced help and social media management. This means that it’s not just you who are new to the whole idea of being a virtual volunteer, but the campaign managers themselves are making up the rules as they go along.
Add to this the unique situation of a global pandemic, new ways to vote and some unique campaign challenges and it’s both an exciting and daunting job. But if you have the passion for it and are willing to go the extra mile to be politically active, then only your talent and imagination limit what you can do to change the world.