As a student or citizen group, you rely on people to volunteer their time and energy on your campaigns. In order to work effectively on a large campaign and coordinate all the volunteers you will have, you will need to develop leaders from within your ranks.


• Everyone has leadership potential. Anybody who supports the campaigns might be interested in getting actively involved. Anybody who gets involved once has the potential to take on more. 
• People who care about these issues need to be motivated to act upon their concerns. Most people don’t know what they can do to make a difference or how their actions will help. You need to communicate that there are solutions as well as problems.
• You need to create opportunities for people to take on more responsibility. It is hard for a new volunteer to know what next step to take. You need to develop a leadership ladder for each person, giving him or her opportunities to continue to produce and to continue to learn.
• People stay involved because they feel challenged personally and because their efforts are making a difference. Once somebody masters a basic task, he or she should be given something moredifficult to tackle—either training other people to do the basic task, or dealing with a more challenging situation themselves.
• People take on more responsibility because they feel needed. If you need people to do more, you need to let them know that. If they are the person to do the job, they need to know that you’re counting on them. After each activity or event, you should be discussing with volunteers their next activity.
• People develop as leaders because somebody takes the time to give them meaningful feedback and to build their confidence. Once a task has been completed, don’t just assign another one—stop and talk about how it went, what could have gone better, which pieces went well, how the volunteer felt about the experience, etc.
• People stay for the long term because they feel like part of a community. Develop a group culture that is fun and that encourages people to get to know each other.


You'll always want to have volunteers, but unless you have a lot of leaders, your organization won’t be as effective. Leaders are the people who not only participate in campaign activities, but take on the responsibility for planning events, coordinating logistics, and preparing and training other volunteers. Not everyone will choose to be a leader, but by recruiting lots of volunteers and giving everyone the opportunity to take on leadership, you’ll find the leaders necessary to be effective.

One way to make leadership opportunities more accessible is to break them down such that even a relatively new volunteer can take on responsibility. For instance, during a petition drive, you might ask a volunteer who has just done petitioning for the first time to come back and help train new petitioners next time. If the volunteer is willing to take on more responsibility, the volunteer could help recruit some additional volunteers for the next petition event, or even take responsibility for creating the visuals for the table.

Over the course of the first few activities, a new volunteer should learn a range of skills, coordinate and lead other students, get individual attention from the organization’s leaders, and be invited to participate in group decision-making. 


  • Phonebanking Coordinator: Oversees all aspects of the phoning, including recruiting and training callers, finding phones, working with day coordinators, and tracking results.
  • Day Coordinator: Oversees the phonebank for a give day. This person confirms the volunteers, works with the hour coordinators, trains new callers, and tracks  the day’s results. 
  • Hour Coordinator: Oversees kthe phonebank for a given hour, trains new callers during that hour, and tracks the hour’s results. 
  • Tabling Coordinator: Oversees all tabling, including recruiting and training tablers, placing the table, working with day coordinators, and tracking results.
  • Day Coordinator: Oversees the table for a specific day. This person confirms volunteers, works with hour coordinators, trains new tablers, and tracks the day’s results. 
  • Hour Coordinator: Oversees the table for a specific hour, trains new tablers during that hour, and tracks the hour’s results.
  • Class Announcements Coordinator: Oversees all aspects of the class announcements, including scheduling, recruiting volunteers to make announcements, training, working with the  scheduling coordinator and announcement coordinator, and tracking results. 
  • Scheduling Coordinator: Oversees the faculty calling, training of callers, and tracking of announcements scheduled.
  • Announcement Coordinator: Makes sure that all scheduled announcements get done, recruits and trains people to do announcements.


Time is your most valuable commodity. You should be spending your time with the strongest activists. Use your organizing opportunities to spot likely leaders and plug them into positions that enable you to help them develop.


In the midst of a campaign, it can be difficult to keep track of volunteers. In order to ensure that you are not missing opportunities to develop leaders and to ensure that your group will have enough leaders to meet its organizational and programmatic goals, you need to set leadership development goals and track your progress.

  • Set goals for how many leaders your group will need. A good rule of thumb is that for every six students active in your group, you need at least one leader.
  • Create a system for keeping track of everyone who volunteers with your group. If you’re running a large recruitment drive and inviting lots of new people to volunteer, it can be difficult to keep track of all of your new volunteers. 
    • Create a volunteer activity log that lists your volunteers, their contact information and what activities they’ve done. 
    • Update it after each  event or activity. Refer to it to make sure volunteers are being invited back, that they’re being asked to do a diverse range of activities, and that they are being invited to take on tasks with more responsibility.