Launching your first political campaign? If you’re considering a run for your local school board, board of supervisors, mayoral position, or other committees, there are a few things to consider before you start campaigning.

While local elections might not seem like a big deal in very small towns, there are plenty of things that can go terribly wrong, beyond simply losing the election.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

Follow election laws carefully
There are important rules that dictate how you can campaign and collect donations from your supporters. Violating these laws can be a serious offense in some cases and can certainly derail your campaign. Be sure to familiarize yourself with local, state and federal campaign laws. A seemingly small mistake could cost you big.

Build a team
Don’t do it on your own. Rely on friends, family and supporters to build your campaign and reach far more voters than you would yourself. Delegate tasks. Determine who will build your volunteer base, handle donations, fine-tune your message, plan events and organize all the other activities that will help you win the election.Check out these 3 keys to winning any local election.

Handle donations with care
Receiving, processing and reporting your campaign contributions properly are all essential. Aside from the fact that you’re dealing with other people’s money, you need to be sure you’re following campaign finance laws. These days, many voters will prefer to contribute online, so be sure that you can accept donations on your website, securely and easily.

Create a plan
No campaign is successful without a well-organized plan. You must determine what your campaign will be about and how you’re going to win. Each element of your campaign must be planned out well in advance, including:

–¬†Determining the issues that matter to your voters
– Drafting your idea, proposals and stances
– Calling voters
– Knocking on doors
– Fundraisers
– Volunteer events

One highly recommended book is “How to Run for Local Office.” First published in 1999, this guide has some outdated information in regards to online organizing, but it’s a great foundation for anyone running in a local election.

Hone your speaking skills
Becoming a politician is all about relating to the people. You can’t do it from behind a desk or a computer screen. You need to get out and talk to voters in person, both before the election and after you win. Work hard to improve your communication and public-speaking skills. Give people confidence that you will work for them and speak on their behalf when it matters most.Public Speaking Mastery is a popular course available around the U.S. from Dale Carnegie Training and inspired by advice from the bestselling author.

Remember: take your campaign seriously, no matter how “small” it is. Even if you’re just vying for a spot on the Parks & Recreation Committee, voters will expect you to be professional, caring and well-informed. Show them that you are a candidate who deserves their vote.

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