Evaluating the Campaign

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After any campaign, the volunteers as well as the staffers tend to sleep long for the first time in weeks, or – after a big success – to engage in new stressful activities in new jobs. Quite often, campaigners forget to put their
campaign to bed and to look back on it systematically.

Putting the campaign to bed

People do not want to see your campaign posters for the whole year. Please make sure that all your posters, banners and displays are removed quickly and completely after the election. Environmentalists should take care of their environment and clean up!

Thank everybody who has been helping you in the campaign. The earlier you do this, the better. You can already start on the day of the election before the results are published. If the top candidate or the campaign manager calls all or the most important volunteers personally on their mobile phones on the day of the election, thanks them for their work, and invites them for the election-night, the reward will be considerable. This would be talked about in the evening, at the election party, even if the party loses – preparing the ground for support in the next election campaign. Many campaigns again invite their volunteers to a party or for coffee and cake afterwards to mark the end of the campaign and to thank them.

Do not forget to also thank your donors after the election.  Why not send them a letter explaining how you or your party analyses the election results, what kind of plan you have now, and how they can contribute to further success? They will feel valued and not just used as a source of money.

If you lose, don’t forget to congratulate your opponent! Only bad losers blame their opponent’s actions and their own campaign team and volunteers for their defeat. Show that you are able to deal with it.

Evaluating the campaign

Evaluating the campaign should not start after the campaign but from the very beginning: it should always be a formative evaluation. This is one of the many tasks of the campaign manager or of the Secretary General of the party. To evaluate a campaign, you need to know the goals that were defined at the beginning. A written strategy of the campaign is the basic document for its evaluation.

Formative evaluation is a process of ongoing feedback on performance. Already at certain milestones during the campaign (e.g. after choosing the candidates, after deciding on the programme, after the launch of the campaign) it is very useful to discuss among the campaign team which targets have been met and what has gone right and wrong so far. The more precise the goals, the better and easier it will be to control and evaluate the campaign. In a bigger campaign, an ‘evaluation manager’ could support the campaign manager or the Secretary General in this process and make sure that notes are taken during all evaluation discussions.

The summative evaluation after the campaign tries to identify larger patterns and trends in performance – and to judge these against the targets that were set at the beginning. One of the best ways to do it is a facilitated half-day workshop. The participants (not more than 40-50) should include the main campaign staffers, certain members of the Board and from regional and local levels, some volunteers (from online and offline campaigning!), 1-2 sympathising journalists, somebody from the PR agencies involved (if trusted) – and a person to take notes!

The summative evaluation workshop schedule could be like this:

Maybe after the workshop somebody will want to sit down and write an article for the party members’ journal in which she or he reflects on the campaign? In any case: write the minutes, distribute them among the participants and keep them for the next campaign. It will be a valuable document to start with!

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