This a guest post submitted by James Hargreaves on behalf of the Army Cadets. Volunteering with the Army Cadets for more than ten years, he uses his plentiful experience to offer advice on how to make your campaign a success.
The most successful volunteering career or campaign is arguably that which rewards you with something unique. Whilst you’re not working for money, that doesn’t mean you aren’t rewarded for your efforts.
I know better than most that volunteering with the Army Cadets provides a whole host of benefits you might not otherwise find; from hands-on skills and experience right through to practical qualifications, but how do you keep the numbers up? Throughout my years I’ve taken various approaches towards campaigning – from hitting the streets the old fashioned way to embracing modern technology and going online – and the results have usually been positive.
I guess the secret is to understand what you’re selling. The army is, in many ways, a lot like a campaign; it has set goals and objectives and the more people you have at your disposal the better the end result. It teaches teamwork and co-operation, requires strategy and forethought and relies on the collective contributions of individuals who must simultaneously take responsibility for themselves and act as part of a wider unit.
Over the years I’ve learnt plenty from my experiences (both campaigning and as an Army Cadets volunteer). For those planning their own campaign – here are a few tricks I picked up along the way:
Dedication and service are two skills that will prove valuable wherever you go – so why not apply them to your campaign? The passion to see something through and achieve your goals is at the heart of any campaigning venture so make sure you’re in a position to commit yourself 100%. If you’re unable to dedicate the necessary time to your campaign then it’ll almost certainly fail so be realistic with your time management and don’t take on more than you can handle.
In the modern world, if you want a little help staying on task then there are plenty of programmes to help. Online fundraising pages are a great way to track your efforts and keep your target or goal in mind but you can also set yourself reminders on everything from mobile phones to email calendars. Something I always found beneficial was to change desktop backgrounds and other customisable features to include images of my campaign or the ultimate target – it’s a great way to make sure the campaign remains the number one priority in your mind.
The next trick is to make sure your message reaches the widest audience possible. My time with Wiltshire Army Cadet Force has equipped me with many skills and it is these qualifications which I always place at the heart of my campaign.
Did you know that The Duke of Edinburgh Award, public relations skills, first aid and any other number of practical skills can be obtained by volunteering with the Army Cadets and are highly applicable in various real-world situations? It is this sort of information which catches people’s attention but simply telling them is not enough. The best approach I’ve found is to provide demonstrates. Setting up something outside in the general public is always a great way to attract attention but if you want to achieve maximum results then go online.
Capture demonstrations on video and load them onto YouTube before sharing across any social platform you can get your hands on. Facebook and Twitter are the go-to mediums for most campaigners but what about Pinterest and Flickr? These are great for image-based inspiration so make sure you don’t overlook them. Then there’s Google+. Whilst new, it is starting to extend its influence so make sure you’re set up here as well. You can always link all of your profiles together to give your campaign as much strength as possible and to make it easier to manage. After all, as the army has taught us – united we stand, divided we fall.