Its been almost a year since we made our debut on Social Media. We started small with just a Facebook page and in June we had a session at the National Peace Corps Associations Annual Conference. During this journey, we have learned a few things about our community.
1) Enthusiasm: As a whole the community shy away from politics but are also passionate about many issues.
2) Excitement: We are so excited to know that there are individuals in our community who are brave enough to run for office!
3) Supportive: The community is supportive of these Political Leaders, but are unsure what is the most effective way to support our leaders.
This post, I will breakdown a few things that you can do to support these leaders!
Yes, we collectively hate that money controls politics! Our Political Leaders agree but in order to make it, they must ask for donations! Though each of the candidates have a specific number in mind, any donation received is appreciated! And once you have donated, you may even get a call to ask for more! If you do get that call and cannot donate again, be sure to be nice to the volunteer, tell them you are so supportive especially since like you they served in the Peace Corps and you believe they can make a difference!
The fact is running an effective campaign is expensive: For US Senate Candidate Shenna Bellows She estimates she needs $3 million dollars to beat her opponent Senator Susan Collins. This amount is for the State of Maine, not really an expensive state and she is lucky she does not need more! Right now, We estimate that she has raised just over $2 million.
You do not need to donate alot of money! Many of our candidates ask for as little as $5, it means alot to them. Having multiple people donate as little as $5 is almost as effective as meeting their goals. Just because someone donates $2000 does not mean the candidate will automatically get 2000 votes!
Logistical things to know: Send a check if you are sending a small amount. Political services for online donations can cost the candidate a certain percentage so your $5 may only mean a couple dollars. This does make a difference because $5 dollars is small amount but it can buy 2-3 yard signs or up to 50 stickers! If you do not want to send a check, be sure to read the fine print on those 3rd party services, but also donate directly to their website, the fees for their bank is most likely not as high as other services.
if you attend a fundraising event be sure to give at least the minimum suggested donation. Think its too high? Email the event coordinator to see if you can donate less. Often you can donate a bit less then what they are suggesting. Tell them you are a recent returned volunteer or retired. Another way to minimize your expenses, offer to be a host. Hosts promise to bring friends who will donate. For example, lets say to be host the donation rate is $500, well you do not have that kind of money but you have 10-20 friends who could donate $50-$100 each. Leaving you the opportunity to attend these fun events for free!
At fundraisers, they don’t necessarily hunt you down to pay but it is respectful and appropriate to give at least something. Another way to minimize your cost is to volunteer for that particular fundraiser. They usually need someone to direct guests and sign them in.
Perhaps one of the reasons Politics cost so much is that candidates are constantly trying to find newer and better ways to run a campaign! This means they are hiring expensive consultants. (of course, knowing some of these political consultants, most are far from wealthy but they need a decent salary to survive!)
Which brings us to our point, Volunteering your time, as much as you can, can make a difference! As part of the Peace Corps community you can make an authentic case on why your community should vote and support this particular Political Leader! Your passion for their support will be apparent and perhaps win over more voters.
Also there are many tasks from data entry and analysis to stuffing envelops that can be tedious but important. By volunteering you can free up the campaigns staff so they can call bigger donors and plan key events. All Political leaders, the good ones -which our Peace Corps alums are, will be so appreciative!
And, perhaps this goes without saying but Volunteering your time has so many personal growth benefits! If you just returned from the Peace Corps and are job searching, volunteering can build jobs skills but you are also meeting some amazing people who may help you out in your job search!
Finally, in a way you are practicing your 3rd goal. When you are talking to a potential voter/donor on the phone or canvansing you can tell them you support this candidate because like you they were a Peace Corps Volunteer! For sure your conversations will digress to great stories about the Peace Corps and perhaps not only win a vote but recruit a future volunteer!
End of Part I
PART II we will discuss how you can support these leaders through social media/email and face to face conversation with your friends/family