Part II: How to be an advocate, giving your time

April 4, 2022

One way to get involved politically is to volunteer your time on the political campaign of a candidate whom you support. The political campaign you support could be on three different levels, including:

  • the local level with elections for town council or mayor,
  • the state level in state legislative elections, or
  • the federal level in congressional elections.

The first thing you should consider is how you want to help and how you can help. Consider how much time you can devote to campaigning and what you would like to do. Most volunteers are not doing anything “glamourous.” Legislative campaigns need people to:

  • do literature drops,
  • go door-to-door to encourage people to get out and vote,
  • help with phone banks to encourage voters to get out to vote or to ask for donations,
  • write letters-to-the-editor, or even
  • drive the candidate around door-to-door or to events.

You should know how much time you can dedicate before you contact a campaign or party organization, so that you do not over-commit yourself. Knowing the type of work you want to volunteer for is a good idea so that you can tell the campaign or party leaders what you are interested in doing. This is easiest if you are going to a  political party instead of one candidate because there are multiple campaigns, and one of them is bound to need the services you would like to volunteer for while  a single candidate might not.

If you are unsure which specific candidate you want to help, start by contacting your local or state political party  if you identify with a specific  party. The political party will know which candidates need help.

If you already know a specific candidate whom you want to get elected, reach out to his or her campaign directly. This information is easily found on a campaign website—just Google a candidate’s name.

More in the Advocacy series

About the author…

Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D.

Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D., joined PIA’s Government & Industry Affairs team in 2018 as government and industry affairs specialist. Now, as the PAC coordinator & public policy analyst, she is responsible for managing political action committees in New York and New Jersey; tracking legislation and regulations; helping manage the association’s advocacy initiatives throughout the Northeast states; and drafting position statements and testimonies. Kat previously worked as a Senate fellow for the New York State Senate Fellowship Program; as well as an instructor of public policy at the State University of Albany, Albany, N.Y. She also worked as a senior research aid and assistant for the SUNY Research Foundation, Albany, N.Y. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the State University of Albany, Albany, N.Y., in May 2020. She also has her Master of Arts from SUNY Albany and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Elmira College, Elmira, N.Y.

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