Nov 8, 2018

How to shut down your campaign

Once the results of your race are final, all campaigns are created equal regardless of the outcome: they’re all finished.

Abby Witt & Julia Leitner

Once the results of your race are final, all campaigns are created equal regardless of the outcome: they’re all finished.

If you won, there's important work to do to transition your campaign into an official office and long term campaign structure. And whether you won or lost, there’s crucial work to shut your campaign down to leave staff and your candidate in strong positions for whatever comes next.

Understandably, few want to spend time and energy on operational logistics right now, but delaying this work only makes it harder. We’ve created the following checklist will help you stay organized through a thorough (and quick!) shut down or transition process.

Where do I start?

All of the following decisions should be guided by what your candidate is doing, or wants to do, next. For candidates who lost, this is harder to know specifically, and that’s okay. Your job is to give them as many options as possible.

  • If your candidate won, start by ensuring you understand the rules around official vs. campaign activity and accounts, and who will “own” what moving forward.
  • If your candidate lost, do they plan to run for office again at some point? If so, you may want to keep access to databases and put emphasis on a strong transition plan for their email list and social accounts.
  • If your candidate lost and knows they won’t run for office again, that means shutting down everything, including their campaign committee. But they may still may want to engage the community of volunteers you’ve built, so you’ll need to make sure they have the right tools with which to do that.

Once you know what you’re transitioning to, the rest is straightforward.

Take care of your people.

Your staff and volunteers are what made your campaign possible, often going above and beyond for you and the candidate. Now’s the time to do the same for them.

  • Send thank you emails to volunteers and donors
  • Schedule volunteer / staff appreciation events
  • Schedule 1:1 conversations with your staff to talk about what they want to do next, and how you and/or the candidate can help them
  • Make sure staff members understand how the shutdown will affect them: when should they expect their paycheck, how long will they have health insurance, how do they file for unemployment, what should they save from their Google Drive, etc.
  • Create a staff contact list with personal email, phone number, and mailing address. You’ll need this information for taxes down the road.
  • Consider creating an email group to stay in touch.

What do I have, and where is it going?

Shutdowns or transitions are, plainly speaking, all about responsibly getting rid of things. For each of the following categories, you’ll want to start by identifying what you have, what you need to save, and how you can best get rid of what you don’t want.

Office / Physical Space

  • List the physical spaces that belong to the campaign, and when the campaign needs to be out of each.
    • Based on this timeline, create a clean up plan for each and share with staff.
  • Does the campaign pay for internet, electricity, and/or utilities in any of these locations? If so, make sure to close those accounts accordingly.
  • Take an inventory of each space for physical items that need to be saved, donated, thrown away, shredded, or recycled. Common examples are:
    • Furniture to be donated
    • Office supplies, computers, and phones to be saved and stored, or donated
    • Walk sheets or call sheets to be shredded
    • Extra lit that can be distributed among staff and the candidate

For candidates who’ve won and will be transitioning to an official office: it may be worth keeping a campaign space open and available to transition staff so they have a place to meet and work.

Budget

  • Collect all final invoices, and pay them.
  • Cancel recurring or scheduled auto payments.
  • Share all bank account information with the candidate, and remove access for campaign staff who no longer need it.
  • Discuss remaining account balances. If there’s additional money, do you want to budget for staff / volunteer appreciation events? Contributions to other candidates / election officials?

Compliance

  • Create a plan for the final filing deadline. In almost all cases, this will be several months after the election, so get firm commitments for help from people who need to be involved.
    • When will you need to report?
    • Make sure you (and/or the candidate and relevant staff) will have access to the data required for filing. Many platforms (including NGP) offer a “hold” option on accounts that eliminate a monthly fee, requiring a one-time nominal fee to re-open for filing deadlines.

Digital

  • Collect passwords for all of your social media platforms, and share with the candidate and/or transition digital staff.
  • Review who has administrator access to these accounts — and to the candidate’s calendar — and remove people, if necessary.
  • Create a plan for the campaign website.
  • If transitioning assets: plan for how you will transition current social media followers to your official elected or personal sites.

Tech

  • Catalog which platforms you use (GSuite, VAN, ActBlue, website host, etc.) and when you will need to shut them down. Store your passwords for these sites and limit access accordingly.

Data

This is the last section, but certainly not least. Take time to go through this list and determine what applies to your campaign -- once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. Make a plan to download and store the following:

  • Volunteer list
  • Supporter list
  • Donor list
  • Donor history
  • Field metrics: doors knocked, calls made, shifts recruited, texts sent; stats from VoterCircle, Hustle, Mobilize, etc.
  • Constituency group lists
  • Average donation, number of donors
  • Email list
  • Questionnaires
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Graphics
  • Brand assets
  • Press list
  • Speeches
  • Self research
  • Opposition research
  • Google drive assets
  • Staff contact list
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