Run for Something’s 2020 Strategic Plan

In just three years, more than 46,000 young people have told us they want to run for office. We’ve endorsed 953 all-stars and elected 304 people across 49 states + DC. Our elected officials are 54% women, 47% people of color, and 18% LGBTQ.

2019: What we did well & what we can improve upon

  • Our 501(c)4, Run for Something Action Fund, launched runforwhat.net — an amazing new tool that allows potential candidates to enter their addresses and identify the offices they might be able to run for. The tool has generated more 14,000 unique potential candidate sign-ups alone.
  • We refined our pipeline to get more people moving from the top of the funnel (raising their hand on our website) to actually running for office. We’ve built out a series of automatic emails to onboard candidates with better expectations about our program up-front, kicked off a candidate texting program, and continue our weekly candidate updatse with training opportunities and resources.
  • There is still room for improvement: There is significant drop off between that initial sign-up and the first conference call; that automated email series (introduced at the end of 2019) will hopefully reduce those rates.
  • We tested out a paid ad campaign that included spending $100k+ in Texas, generating nearly 1500 leads in Texas on top of thousands of more from the last three years. We learned a lot about what kind of creative works and what really doesn’t. (For example: Search ads are super effective; display ads and banners are extremely not.) As a result, 20% of the non-incumbent Democrats running for state house came through our funnel.
  • We held in-person recruitment events in Indianapolis, Albuquerque, and multiple cities in Texas, bringing interested candidates and volunteers together to amp up and inspire each other.
  • Everyone celebrated the third annual National Run for Office Day — including 40+ partner organizations and nearly every presidential candidate. More than 5,000 people signed up to run for office around the holiday.
  • We coordinated with Contest Every Race in TX, NC, GA, VA, CO, and MS, sending thousands of text messages about open races for municipal office to encourage candidates in our pipeline to file to run for office.
  • We launched the Grassroots Redistricting Project, a collaborative effort with Swing Left and Arena to focus our energies on recruiting, staff, and supporting state legislative races key to combating gerrymandering after 2020.
  • Our alumni began recommending and connecting us with prospective candidates, creating a new “good ole boys club” but instead made up entirely of young people, women, and people of color. You love to see it.
  • Despite being seriously understaffed in 2019 (our regional team was 2 members instead of 4), our staff supported candidates in 276 elections in 2019. Our close partnership with the Indiana Young Democrats spurred recruitment and allowed us to endorse 34 candidates in Indiana, 15 of whom won. Fun fact: In 2019, we endorsed the most candidates in Indiana (34), followed only by Virginia (33).
  • After joining candidate intro calls and hopping on the phone with one of our volunteers to talk about their campaign goals, volunteers now share out 3–5 alumni and networking contacts for the candidate to contact. These contacts may help advise on running for office now, or provide an opportunity to volunteer on a campaign to prepare for an their own future campaign. This is an immediate resource!
  • After receiving an endorsement, all RFS candidates who request it are matched with an alumni advisor who’s gone through a similar race or is in a similar stage of life. Alumni are also connected to each other post-election as needed when problems and questions come up. These relationships have been an absolute delight to watch flourish. For example…
  • In 2019 we saw so many previously endorsed RFS candidates step up to run again: 55 alumni applied for endorsement for a second run for office — 12 ran in 2019 (9 won, 5 of whom were incumbents and 4 who won for the first time — Tay Anderson, Daniel Wood, Tommy Butler, Josh Cole — and so far, 43 will run in 2020.
  • We reconfigured our operations department, building out sound financial management systems, refreshing onboarding processes, feedback loops, and always improving the diversity of our hiring process. (Fun fact: On average, the final stages of our most recent hiring rounds were 67% people of color and 50% women.)
  • Our tech team of one — with the support of an incredible volunteer who dedicated countless hours of his time for free — built out a homegrown database (affectionately named Deb, after his plant) that will allow us to better track how multiple people within the organization are working the thousands of candidates that are part of our network.
  • Our communications team kept Run for Something in the news through projects like the Down Ballot Pledge (which nearly every presidential candidate signed) and stories in the press, including NowThis videos, stories in Rolling Stone, Washington Monthly, Vanity Fair, MTV.com, MSNBC, and Crooked Media. Our Facebook reach increased by nearly 50%, our Twitter impressions went up by nearly 20%, and our Instagram audience grew by nearly 100% over this point in 2019. We launched an SMS program to begin connecting with supporters where they’re at.
  • We set out to raise $2.2 million in 2019, we exceeded that by raising $2.6 million and started 2020 with a surplus. We hosted 20 fundraisers across the country last year, including a big Party for Something, where Stacey Abrams and Rep. Ayanna Pressley wowed the crowd with their remarks. Our donor list grew by 10% over 2019 as we keep building a balanced revenue base.

2020: Our theory of change

2020: Our priorities

RECRUITMENT

We want to recruit candidates like it’s going to be the highest turn-out election of our lifetimes, then target our support like every race will be a nail-biter.

SUPPORT

  • Candidates for state legislative seats we need to win for redistricting purposes (MN, WI, TX, FL, GA, NC, OH, & PA). It is likely that many of our candidates are running for longer-shot races within those states and won’t be at the top of the target list for most organizations. But we believe good candidates running strong campaigns can turn a race competitive (and truly, if we’ve learned anything over the last three years, it’s that anything can happen).
  • Candidates for local office in key battleground states for the presidential election, Senate races and gubernatorial races, including — but not limited to — Maine, Montana, Alabama, Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Michigan. This map is flexible; as we see great candidates pop up in districts that overlap with a vulnerable House seat, or as the battlegrounds adjust over time, we’re nimble!

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Program that is efficient and designed for scale.
  • Operations processes that promote a positive, inclusive team culture and make our entire team happier, stronger, and more effective.
  • Technology that can scale and allows our staff to do more with less.
  • A communications strategy that reaches people where they’re at and gives them meaningful ways to engage with our organization — whether that’s by running for office, volunteering, or donating.
  • A fundraising program that is balanced, focused, and ambitious (but realistic). We want to end the year with money in the bank so no matter what happens on Election Day, we can stay open to help 2021 candidates & beyond.

2020: How we do it

Donate right now. Make it monthly.

Host an event.

Sign up to volunteer or mentor candidates.

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Run for Something

Run for Something

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