I’m excited to tell you about the local race coaching program.

After working on campaigns in seventeen states and seven countries, I’ve started to see models and tactics that are effective for local campaigns. And I’ve made it a point to be hands-on and learn how campaigns organize. There’s always more to learn, but I’ve seen a lot about how effective campaigns organize (and where less effective campaigns have challenges).  My goal: take that knowledge, make it easy to understand and implement, and find ways to coach and teach campaigns what I’ve learned.

Aren’t all campaigns different? Yes, and in every state and country where I work, I hear that phrase that “everything is different here.” That’s true, but effective campaigns use some common models and tactics.

There’s a real challenge in how we help local campaigns. The “done for you” model of consulting doesn’t work for every local race, and leads to retainers and staff costs that aren’t sustainable for many local campaigns. 

Paying for services (with a mark-up) model isn’t always affordable to local campaigns.  Many local races can’t afford $10,000 bio videos. Some even pay these fees, thinking it’s their only option.

2020 will be an exciting year, but many local races will see a real talent crunch with the excitement around the presidential campaigns, and local races will face a real talent crunch in 2020, so there’s a significant problem coming. We’re likely to see one of the biggest “talent crunches” that we’ve ever seen in Democratic politics. Larger campaigns are already having problems recruiting staff, and local races will have an even bigger challenge. We have to start thinking about that now.

There have been some really positive developments in how Democrats train and support local campaigns.  Campaign Greenhouse offers individual and group coaching. The Democratic Training Institute, a for-profit entity that launched in 2016, offers free-in person trainings in many states. The Democratic Training Institute offers in-person trainings and online resources. Organizing Corps, a DNC program is “…recruiting and training 1,000 young people in key battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia — to work on the 2020 presidential campaign, starting this summer.”

There are a lot of people doing great work in the training space, and I hope this program can fill in some gaps. What is the most significant gap? Most trainings are limited to in-person trainings that often cost time and money (registration fees, travel, and missed time at work). That limited format means we’re only training a specific type of person, someone that has the time, money, and availability to attend an in-person training.

And there are other obstacles apart from availability and cost. Some people are turned off by the format (not everyone learns that way, and the idea of coming to a training can be intimidating, especially for people who are new to politics). These trainings are one time experiences without ongoing support. And many of these programs focus on what to do, but not how or why. That doesn’t mean these in-person trainings aren’t valuable, but it does mean an emphasis on in-person trainings mean gaps in who and how we train.

Here’s another way this program will be different. This program will be 100 percent online.  You can learn just about anything from earning a degree to learning how to invest in real estate. I think people can learn about campaigns and get the support they need in a similar format. Online coaching and training gives people more options for training and attracts a new set of people to the political process.

Here’s what the program will entail:

  1. Training on the best frameworks to build your campaign. We’ll walk you through a model and process to plan the final weeks of your campaign.  
  2. One 1-1 strategy session to help you build and refine your plan. We want you to set goals for the program and personalize that to you and your campaign.
  3. Five hours per week of office hours. These are group sessions where you can ask questions publicly or submit them privately before the call. We’ll have themes to some of the office hours, but we’ll talk through and help you with whatever questions you have. If we run into a lot of campaigns struggling with the same issues, we’ll develop short trainings that go deeper than office hours. We’ll start by finding times that you’re available and can attend.
  4. Weekly priorities memos that help campaigns focus on important deadlines and campaign milestones.  From GOTV tips to finalizing your mail plan, we’ll make sure we help you focus on the most important tasks for each week. We’ll boil down the things that a campaign manager would be thinking about each week, and outline them in a clear and actionable format.
  5. Email support with a 24-hour response time Want us to look at a script, digital ad, budget, or plan? Send it over and we’ll reply within 24 hours.
  6. Access to a growing library of campaign resources that can help you avoid recreating the wheel. Have you ever gotten the sense that you’re not the only campaign working on a plan, budget, or key document?  You aren’t, and having resources and templates can save a campaign time and money.

Our first program will focus on candidates with November 2019 elections. 

Who can join?

  • Democratic candidates. If you’re running in a non-partisan race, let’s hear about your race. We’re open to left-leaning campaigns. 
  • Campaign staff and operatives.
  • Local party chairs and leaders.  
  • Activists who want to make a difference in an election — no matter their position or title.

What are the other expectations?

  • You’re coming into this program with goals and a focus. No coaching program will do everything, and it’s important that we help you set reasonable goals. If everything is wrong in your campaign, this program can’t help you with it all.
  • You have some campaign already in place, and want some support and help along the way. This program isn’t a full-service program where we run your campaign or help you with services. If you need additional help, we’ll refer you to at least three vendors that can help you.
  • It helps to think about consulting and vendors as offering three categories of service — you do it, it’s done with you, and it’s done for you. Our program is a mix of training you to run your campaign and working with you to help implement what you’ve learned.
  • This is a group coaching program. To be fair to other participants, we can’t do 1-1 calls or in-person meetings.
  • Your campaign needs VAN or Nationbuilder access. If you’re running in a state where the voter file isn’t cost-effective, we can give some tips to help. You’ll need to get your voter within a week of starting the program.
  • You have to be willing to learn and follow basic expectations for a campaign. We don’t want you to join the program if you’re unwilling to make a fundraising call or stay committed to campaign priorities. You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be willing to learn, grow, and make decisions.

Thanks for reading. I’m really passionate about this program and I’d love to get your thoughts. Could you send me an email at team@thenorthconsulting.com if you have advice or feedback?

There are other ways that other consultants, operatives and political vendors can get involved. Send me an email if you’d like to learn more.

Thanks for reading.

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