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What AOC Taught Me

In 2018, I had the unique opportunity to run for Congress backed by a national political action committee that recruited regular folks to run. One of my slatemates was an unknown bartender from New York City. I knew her then as Alex. We all know her now as AOC.

I have learned much from her, but I will never forget one critical thing she said on a Zoom call in early 2018. She said, “They can outspend us, but we can out-organize them.”

What the future Congresswoman was describing is known as grassroots campaigning.

As a first-time candidate for office, you might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of competing against well-established politicians with substantial resources. Fear not, because one of the most effective campaign strategies available to you is grassroots campaigning. By mobilizing your local community, you can build a powerful support network that will propel you toward success.

What is Grassroots Campaigning?

Grassroots campaigning is a bottom-up approach to politics that focuses on engaging and mobilizing local supporters. It emphasizes direct contact with voters through personal interactions, community events, and social media engagement. By harnessing the power of your community, you can create a strong and authentic connection with voters that resonates more than traditional, top-down political strategies.

Here are five steps to help you harness the power of grassroots campaigning and mobilize your local community:

Define Your Message and Values

Before you can mobilize your community, you need to have a clear and compelling message that resonates with voters. Start by identifying the key issues that matter most to your constituents and develop a platform that addresses these concerns. Make sure your message and values are authentic and align with your personal beliefs, as this will make it easier to connect with voters on an emotional level.

Build a Strong Volunteer Base

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any grassroots campaign. They will help you knock on doors, make phone calls, organize events, and spread the word about your candidacy. To build a strong volunteer base, start by reaching out to your personal network of friends, family, and colleagues. You can also tap into local organizations, clubs, and advocacy groups that share your values and might be willing to support your campaign.

Connect with Voters through Personal Interaction

One of the most powerful aspects of grassroots campaigning is the ability to connect with voters through personal interactions. This can be done through door-to-door canvassing, attending community events, and organizing town hall meetings or candidate forums. Make a point to listen to the concerns and opinions of your constituents, as this will help you tailor your message and demonstrate your commitment to addressing their needs.

Leverage Social Media and Digital Tools

In today's digital age, social media platforms and other online tools are essential for reaching and mobilizing your community. You likely already have accounts on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use them! Use them to share your message, promote events, and engage with voters. Additionally, consider using email marketing, text message campaigns, and digital advertising to expand your reach and keep supporters informed and engaged.

Foster a Sense of Community and Empowerment

The key to a successful grassroots campaign is fostering a sense of community and empowerment among your supporters. Encourage them to take ownership of the campaign by providing opportunities for them to lead initiatives, organize events, or contribute their skills and expertise. By empowering your supporters, you will build a strong network of dedicated volunteers who are invested in your success and willing to help you achieve your goals.

You can do this. And we can help. Get access to our Campaign Readiness Checklist. It will help you get ready to do digital organizing - and a whole lot more of things you need to do to run a competitive campaign with confidence.

Sign up here to get immediate access to our FREE downloadable PDF - Campaign Readiness Checklist from You Could Run. Click Submit and check your email.

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