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So you want to be a consultant...

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Monday, November 21, 2011

Washington is full of firms and organizations looking to hire talented people to do the specialized work that keeps Washington humming. Direct mail, database management, digital media, TV, fundraising – every aspect of a campaign has corresponding firms here in DC that help Democrats go out and win elections.

All of those consultants and firms are in addition to the non-profit and issue advocacy organizations that call DC home. The League of Conservation Voters, J Street, and Choice USA are all examples of organizations attending Democratic GAIN’s Career Fair that are looking for talented individuals to help them pursue their agendas and achieve their policy goals.

Do you think you have something to offer a firm, consultant, or organization? Do you have expertise in one area of politics that could be put to use by a progressive non-profit?

If you’ve ever thought about getting into consulting or working for an organization, check out what Alix DeJean of the Dewey Square Group has to say about what it’s like working as a consultant:

"Working for a consulting firm presents different challenges from working on a campaign. On campaigns, you often have to be a generalist- everyone pitches in. As a consultant working at a firm, you have to apply your expertise in fundraising or direct mail or communications to provide a particular service to a campaign. You work with multiple clients, each with different needs but the same high expectations for the quality of your work. Every client has to be a priority and that presents different challenges from working on a campaign as a staffer.”

If you’re working for a non-profit or progressive advocacy organization, many of the same principles apply. You’re going to have to demonstrate that the skills you bring to the table are going to help the organization achieve its policy goals. Your passion for a particular issue can be a great asset. When working on a campaign, you have to elect one person with a variety of issue positions. At an environmental organization, you’re able to focus solely on the environmental issues that really motivate you.

Whether you want to work as a consultant at a firm or as part of a non-profit or issue advocacy organization, the Democratic GAIN Career Fair is great place to be. We’ll have dozens of firms and organizations looking for smart, talented people heading into 2012.

Be sure to check out all of the organizations and firms that are going to be at the Democratic GAIN Career Fair!

Tags:  2012  Career Fair  Consultant  Consulting  Issue Advocacy  Non-Profit 

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So you want to manage a campaign...

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Monday, November 14, 2011

Do you think you have what it takes to manage a campaign?

Every campaign, from State Representative to President, needs a manager. The campaign manager is responsible for writing the campaign plan, creating the campaign budget, and hiring staff that will execute the campaign plan.

Being a campaign manager requires you to manage relationships. The relationship between campaign manager and candidate is the most important relationship that a campaign manager has to cultivate. The candidate is your boss, but the candidate also relies on you to make decisions about how they should spend their time. This is where "managing up” comes in. You have to be able to disagree with your candidate when they want to deviate from the campaign plan. You have to be willing to tell them that call time needs to take priority over marching in a parade this week or that, no matter the outcome of past elections, ordering more campaign t-shirts is not the best use of the campaign’s money.

Simone Ward is the President of Democratic GAIN’s Board of Directors and managed Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s 2010 reelection campaign. Here is what she had to say about managing a campaign:

"Managing a campaign means you have to be a jack of all trades. You need to understand what your consultants, staff, and candidate are thinking and doing. You’re in charge of the campaign’s budget, too. It’s your job to set the overall strategy for the campaign and then manage the people and relationships that will help your campaign follow that strategy to victory. It is also means managing up. The candidate is your boss, but it’s your responsibility to get the candidate to stick with the campaign plan. That sometimes means telling the candidate, ‘No.’”

As campaign manager, you are the nexus for internal communication. It’s your job to keep your staff and consultants on the same page when executing the campaign plan. There will be a number of people who will be more than happy to tell you how your campaign should be run and how you should be doing things. That’s why writing and sticking to a campaign plan is so important.

A campaign manager at their best runs an operation where the different components of the campaign – field, finance, communication, consultants – are working in concert. You set the goals for each department that will help the campaign achieve its overall goal: winning the election. You need to make sure field is knocking on the right number of doors and that finance is raising the amount of money they need to. If anyone is falling behind, the campaign manager has to step in and help them get back on track because the campaign manager is responsible for every decision, success, and shortfall on a campaign.

Think you’re up to the challenge? Come to the Democratic GAIN career fair and meet with the professionals and organizations that are staffing up for 2012!

See you in December!

Tags:  2012  Campaign Manger  Campaigns  Career Fair 

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So you want to work in field...

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Monday, November 7, 2011

Field wins close races.

It’s as simple as that. That one extra round of door knockers you sent out or that extra hour of phone banking can make the difference when a race is coming down to a couple hundred votes.

At its most basic, field strategy is simple: identify the people who will vote for you and then make sure those people show up to vote on Election Day. At its best though, Field is about empowering people to bring your candidates message directly to their neighbors. It’s about inspiring people to give some their time and energy for a cause they believe in.

If you want to work as a Field Organizer or Field Director on a campaign, you need to be a people person. You need to be able to work with volunteers and manage volunteers. It can be delicate balance between effectively managing people and respecting the time they’re giving to your campaign.

Marlon Marshall is currently Deputy National Field Director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Here is what he had to say about Field organizing:

"Organizing is about building and maintaining connections between people and your campaign. Whether volunteers are making phone calls, holding signs, or knocking on doors, they’re making those connections to voters and the community. Going door-to-door works because it’s personal—one person talking to another, neighbor to neighbor. Online organizing was key in 2008 because friends reached out to friends over email or on Facebook, helping build that personal connection to the campaign. Those online and offline personal connections are what make the difference on Election Day.”

Field work is an excellent way to break into the Political Campaign world. It requires long hours and lots of patience. You’ll be spending a lot of time organizing door knocking shifts, phone banks, recruiting volunteers, and managing data – lots of data.

Contact rates, Positive IDs, ID rates, turf, and call lists are all a part of the Field worker’s daily routine. Successful data management is the foundation of any good GOTV program. You have to know who your voters are and where they are if you are planning on turning them out to vote on Election Day.

Check out the 2011 Democratic GAIN Career Fair for opportunities to work in Field and Organizing in 2012!

Tags:  2012  Career Fair  Field Director  Field Organizer 

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So you want to work in communications...

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Monday, October 31, 2011

In politics, your message can be everything. If you can’t communicate with your voters, activists, or constituents, you’re not going to be able to achieve your goals.

At the Democratic GAIN career fair, there will be many organizations looking for qualified candidates to join their communications teams.

There are no shortage of firms and organizations in Washington who need communication professionals. Party organizations, labor unions, consulting firms, non-profits, and advocacy organizations all need professional communications teams to help them achieve their goals.

Democratic GAIN board member Mary Rickles is the Communications Director of Netroots Nation. She had this to say about what it takes to succeed in the political communication game:

"Effective communication is the foundation for all successful organizing—whether you’re running for office, raising money for an organization or collecting petition signatures for your favorite cause. Being able to craft a concise, compelling story (ever heard someone talk about the "story of self?”) and make it relatable to the people you’re trying to reach is the first step. Combine good storytelling with strong social media savvy and the ability to work with the media and you’re on your way to being a rock star communications staffer."

If you think about successful progressive candidates and organizations, they all have messages that are concise, compelling, and relatable.

If you’re looking to break into political communication, start thinking about where on your resume you can you highlight communications skills. Have you ever had to take a complex idea and explain it other people in a way that was easy to understand? Have you ever been in a position that required you to write a lot? Were deadlines ever a regular part of any past experience you might have?

There will be plenty at the Career Fair for established communications professionals, too. If you’re looking to make the jump from campaigns to labor, non-profit, or consulting, those fields will be well represented.

Whether you’re just starting out or are just looking to change jobs, there will be plenty for communications professionals at GAIN’s career fair.

Sign up today for GAIN’s 2011 Career Fair!

Tags:  Career Fair  Communications  Jobs  Messaging 

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Catalist knows your voters.

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Data drives modern campaigns. Time and money need to be used efficiently and Catalist can help your campaign do just that.

When you pair Catalist’s consumer data with voter file information, you can predict partisanship and turnout with greater accuracy. That means you can send your volunteers, mail, and phone calls where they’ll do the most good.

President Obama used Catalist’s data to help him target voters in swing states during his historic 2008 campaign. President Obama’s voter contact efforts were efficient and effective- turning out record numbers of first time voters and Democrats who had voted infrequently in the past. The 2008 Obama get out the vote operation helped propel then Senator Obama into the White House.

Democratic GAIN is very excited to be hosting a training with Catalist on their versatile Q Tool. If you are interested in how campaigns are using targeting data to persuade and mobilize voters, then you won’t want to miss this training!

Sign up today!

Tags:  2012  Catalist  Targeting  Toolset Training 

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Organize Online with Blue State Digital

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An online presence matters in campaigns. It’s as simple as that. You need a website to be taken seriously. And your website has to be more than just a statement of your positions on issues. In fact, a website isn’t the only component of your campaign online anymore. Voters, activists, donors – whoever it is you’re trying to reach- are going to expect more than a few pages and some links.

They’re going to expect your site to be integrated with Facebook and Twitter. If they donate their time or money to you, they’re going to want to let their friends know about it. In fact, organizing and fundraising online are becoming essential parts of campaign strategy. Just look at the success of the Obama Campaign and

That’s why Democratic GAIN is so excited to be holding a Toolset Training with Blue State Digital. Blue State Digital was the firm that helped create Blue State Digital handles online planning, management, and design for the NAACP, DCCC, and the It Gets Better Project.

Blue State Digital is a leader in Democratic and progressive politics when it comes to web design, development, and online strategic campaigns. Progressive organizations turn to Blue State Digital for integrated fundraising, advocacy, social networking, constituency development, and content management tools.

This will be a can’t-miss training for anyone interested in learning about the latest tips, tricks, and strategies in online campaigns.

Sign up today!

Tags:  2012  Barack Obama  Blue State Digital  Internet  Online Organizing 

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Need to work on your ground game?

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A good field operation can make the difference in tight races. Volunteers knocking on doors and having face-to-face conversations with their neighbors is a tried-and-true method of voter contact. A GOTV push that turns out your supporters on Election Day and gives you the margin of victory you need is a goal of every campaign. Campaigns need to track their data: volunteers, supporters, contact rates, lawn sign locations. These are the components of a winning field program.

VAN’s Votebuilder tool helps campaigns do all of these things.

Planning a door knocking day of action? Votebuilder will help you create walks routes and allow your volunteers to easily track the results of their canvass on printed sheets, their smart phone or tablet.

Time to GOTV? Votebuilder tracks supporters and how you contacted them to help you craft effective and efficient GOTV plans.

Votebuilder also allows you to assign activist codes, track responses to survey questions, and refine the universe of voters your campaign is targeting. It’s one of the most popular platforms available for Democratic campaigns that need to manage their voter file.

Democratic GAIN and VAN are teaming up for a Votebuilder Toolset Training on Tuesday, October 18th. Learn how to run a successful field operation using VAN’s Votebuilder software, improve your Votebuilder proficiency, and jump onto a campaign as a Field Organizer in 2012. This is a training you won’t want to miss.

Sign up today!

Tags:  2012  Field  Field Organizer  Toolset Training  VAN 

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Membership Discounts: Paychex

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Friday, October 7, 2011

Campaigns are hectic. Phones are always ringing, walks sheets and call lists are everywhere, and people walk in and out of the office all day long.

With all of that going on, setting up an HR department can be pretty daunting. It’s precisely this problem that led Democratic GAIN to Paychex.

Paychex is a recognized leader in the payroll and human resource industry, serving over a half million businesses nationwide. Paychex offers an ever-growing variety of payroll and human resource products and services that will help campaigns do what they do best — win elections.

From calculating payroll and filing tax payments, Paychex gives its clients relief from administrative hassles so they can focus on what matters. Organizational GAIN members receive access to a dedicated, local Payroll Specialist to help get you set up and a 15% discount on payroll processing!

Click here to access your discount!

Tags:  Campaigns  HR  Member Discounts  Membership  Paychex  Payroll 

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So you want to be a finance assistant?

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In 2012, there are races up and down the ballot. President Obama will be leading a ticket that will include U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, Governors, state legislators, and municipal officials. What’s the one thing all of these campaigns have in common?

They all need to raise money.

If you’re looking for a job during the 2012 cycle right now, fundraising and finance is your best shot for joining a campaign. Fundraising is essential for building up any campaign organization. Campaigns need to raise money to hire staff, rent office space, and convince potential supporters that a candidate can seriously compete for the office they are seeking.

This is where NGP comes in. NGP’s fundraising and finance software is a staple of the modern Democratic campaign. It’s a powerful database that allows you to keep track of your donors, pledges, and donations. It will help you organize your campaign’s finance plan and make sure you’re not wasting valuable call time or leaving money on the table.

Trying to run a modern campaign without finance software is tough. NGP’s software is some of the best on the market and knowing how to use it can help you get a job in campaign fundraising. Democratic GAIN will be offering a training on NGP next week. Come get to know one of the most powerful toolsets in progressive politics. Get the skills you need to be a Finance Assistant. It’s a training that you won’t want to miss.

Sign up here.

Tags:  2012  Finance  Finance Assistant  Fundraising  NGP 

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Raise Money and Win Races with Aristotle 360

Posted By Patrick Burgwinkle, Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anyone who has worked on a campaign understands the important role money and fundraising play in winning races. That makes the tools you use to help run your finance operation critical to the success of your campaign. This is where Aristotle 360 comes in.

Democratic GAIN will be offering a training session on Aristotle’s 360 toolset. Come check it out and see what this software can do for your next finance operation.

Aristotle 360 will automatically format call sheets and allow you to sort them based on criteria you want – high dollar donors, residents of a certain town, occupation – and help your candidate raise money. 360 also allows you to search for donations any person has made to other candidates at the Federal and State level. That means if John Q. Donor usually gives you $500, but he gives more to other candidates, you’ll know to increase your ask and avoid leaving money on the table.

Looking to work on campaigns but concerned about your skills? Anyone completing this training will be GAIN Finance Assistant Certified on the Aristotle 360 tool. That’s a leg up when applying for that finance assistant position on a race using Aristotle’s software.

If you’re looking to jump on a race as a finance assistant in 2012 or want to expand your repertoire of skills, then you won’t want to miss this training.

Sign up today!

Tags:  Aristotle  Finance  Finance Assistant  Toolset Training 

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