Run for Something’s 2022 Strategic Plan

Where we started

Five years ago, on January 20th, 2017, Run for Something officially launched into the world as nothing more than an idea, a website, and a strategic plan.

As of the end of 2021: We’ve recruited more than 90,000 people to consider running for office, endorsed more than 1800, and elected 637 all-stars to local office in nearly every single state!

All that is just the beginning. 2022 will be a big year for Run for Something and more importantly, for democracy. It’s all on the line.

  • We had 72 endorsed candidates, 35 of whom won their elections
  • More than 6000 individual donors supported our work
  • We engaged 60+ partners, 2000+ active volunteers, and 500+ mentors entered our network
  • We invested $200,000 in VA, split across candidates and re-grants to partner organizations who did canvassing in our candidates’ districts
  • We held the first ever National Run for Office Day, during which 2500 people signed up to run for office in 24 hours
  • We did all this with a team of 5 (by the end of the year) and a $750k annual budget
  • We hit 650 endorsements and 200+ wins in 40 states — RFS was responsible for 10% of all flipped state legislative seats in 2018
  • We ran first-of-their kind TV and print ads in Florida to recruit candidates to run against NRA-backed opponents
  • On the second National Run for Office Day, more than 9,000 people signed up to run
  • We commissioned first-of-its-kind research, and learned some fun facts, like that 10% of people who sign up with us actually run for office; that RFS districts have 1% higher turnout on average over comparable districts; and that one the biggest value-adds we can bring to candidates is community.
  • Our small team did all this on a $1.6m budget
  • Our lifetime endorsement number hit 953 candidates and 304 winners. We flipped seats on the Indianapolis city-county council, helped the youngest woman ever elected in Ames, IA, and elected the first Somali-American in Lewiston, Maine, among other things.
  • We now had 10,000 volunteers working with us.
  • We launched runforwhat.net, an innovative public tool allowing people to look up exactly what offices were on the ballot in their community.
  • We ran $100,000 of recruitment ads in Texas — ultimately, 20% of non-incumbent Democrats running for state house came through the RFS pipeline.
  • On the third National Run for Office Day, another 5000 people signed up with us 40+ partners participated
  • Our partnerships continued to grow, as we launched the Grassroots Redistricting Project with Swing Left and Arena, and kicked off focused candidate-recruitment-via-text efforts with Contest Every Race.
  • We grew and formalized our alumni advisor program, as every new endorsed candidate got matched with someone who’d been in the same shoes in years prior.
  • We engaged every Democratic presidential candidate around signing the Down Ballot Pledge, promising to build the party from the local candidates on up.
  • We did all this on a $2.2 million budget.
  • Our lifetime stats grew to 1,480 endorsements, 488 winners!!
  • Once the pandemic began, we hosted the Front Row Seat series, spotlighting incredible leaders pushing for local change
  • We launched resourcesforcampaigns.com — a hub for COVID campaign strategies — which had 20,000 visitors
  • We hosted the Armchair Chat Series — conversations with expert practitioners — that reached 2 million+ viewers
  • We expanded our alumni advisor program and built new platforms to promote candidates (like the podcast)
  • We raised $100k for state legislative races through RFS Ascend and $100k for Black candidates running for local office through ActBlue tandem fundraising.
  • We ran our messaging poll around public safety, helping candidates talk about tough issues
  • We built and launched an internal candidate tracking tool to manage the thousands of interactions we have with candidates through and after the endorsement process
  • We ran another round of research, debriefing with our candidates and further refining our program
  • We did all of that on a $2.6m budget

That brought us to year five, 2021 — which somehow, in spite of the odds and everything going on in the world, was Run for Something’s best year yet.

  • Our candidate pipeline grew from 67,000 to more than 90,000–2021 was our best recruitment year yet.
  • Our revolutionary partnership with Snapchat (!) brought in 5,683 young people
  • Run for Something’s alumni recruitment program — in which our previously endorsed candidates help us source new talent — grew stronger and more systematic
  • Our work builds on itself: When we help one young person win and then tell their story, dozens more are inspired to sign up themselves.
  • We endorsed 412 candidates in 38 states — bringing our lifetime total to 1,813 candidates. Our 2021 endorsements specifically were:
  • We elected 168 people this year — bringing our grand total to 637. Those winners are 56% women, 58% POC, 21% LGBTQIA+!
  • We hosted 50+ best-in-class events (See Yourself Running, Unapologetically Progressive, & more) that tens of thousands of people attended or streamed
  • We released research on reverse coattails, proving twice over that local candidates can help lift up the top of the ticket.
  • We raised $128,000 in support of 186 candidates, with $112k of that running specifically through RFS Ascend for 26 candidates in TX, VA, and PA — and in addition, hustled up another $60,000 from partners.
  • We launched partnerships including with Doctors in Politics to bring more healthcare workers into office, and the Future Winners program with Sister District and EMILY’s List to support candidates who lose in preparing for their next race. We also worked with Nascent Consulting to run trainings on resiliency for RFS alumni who lost but wanted to further engage in their communities.
  • Our team launched Run for Something Civics, a new 501c3 effort to bring more young leaders into the process and end the gerontocracy

What we’re up to in 2022

Why local election offices…

  • In MI, a town clerk who believed in conspiracy theories refused to allow a vendor to perform routine maintenance because the clerk falsely believed the maintenance would erase old data that “prove the machines are rigged”

Why school board races

Overall goals for 2022

  • “I definitely want to run for something” — Run for Something & Run for Something Action Fund programming, including a welcome series, introductory conference calls and 1:1 conversations with volunteers, events to inspire and educate on how campaigns work, and online candidate resources
  • “I am running for something” — Run for Something endorsements and support from regional directors, alumni advisors, and mentors
  • “I ran for something” — Run for Something Action Fund and Run for Something Civics programming, including transition guides, support for governance, mentorship opportunities, and preparation for future civic leadership

How much all this costs:

At bare minimum, our budget for 2022 across the Run for Something network is at least $6.3 million. This is a big jump from previous years — but the moment demands nothing less than everything we’ve got.

What the next five years could be:

If democracy survives past the next two years, we have such a beautiful vision for what it could be in five or ten years time.

You can help.

Run for office. It’s never too early (or too late) to get started.

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Run for Something

Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net