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Toolkit – Organization, Fundraising, Curriculum

There are any number of ways to start an organization, a business, a nonprofit. In each case, leading political leadership and candidate development programs started with a vision – sometimes that of a single person and other times rooted in the common experiences of a group of people -- and answers to a great many basic questions.

To develop, they all needed:

  • A framework, an organizational structure to guide their early steps and manage growth and good governance.
  • Resources, including stable finances and people inspired to work toward the organization’s mission and goals.
  • Curriculum, the courses, workshops, lessons and examples to engage future candidates and elected leaders.

This toolkit is organized around the best practices discovered through our research.

We offer this toolkit – intended as a kind of “program in a box,” practically speaking a starter kit, for use by similar political leadership and candidate development programs and others interested in building such a program in their state.

Some examples are stored within a special set of Google docs on and are marked (On Google Drive). All documents are formatted as .pdf. You’ll need a login for access and may email IPPSR Director Matt Grossmann at to obtain that access.

Once you have access to the Google Drive, please find instructions on using the Google Drive here.

We hope these examples will allow us and others to connect with national partners, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative grantees. We hope they will lead to development learning modules that could be adapted in each state and possibly extended to touring facilitators, knowledgeable consultants able to encourage, nurture and spread new efforts.

Given sufficient interest, a system could be developed for selecting the graduates of each program most likely to pursue careers in Congress, tapping those whose insights and interests would lead them to participation in national-level programs.

The look ahead to all these efforts – the conference, survey, searchable online database and these examples from programs across the country – will hopefully form the basis of an organization network inspired to ongoing collaboration.

We also hope that they inspire you.


Regardless of history, founding or inspired vision, successful leadership and candidate development programs are organized around a sense of history and values, mission, guiding principles, or strategic plan, a legal structure, an advisory board and qualified staff members.

History and Values

Rooted in a single industry (On Google Drive) 

About MPLP(.pdf)
MPLP Program Overview (.pdf)
Guiding Principles


Affiliated with a university (.pdf)
Corporation Model (On Google Drive)

Advisory Board

Corporation Model (On Google Drive)
University Affiliation (.pdf)
Structure (On Google Drive)


Co-Directors (.pdf)
Corporate Model (On Google Drive)
Executive Director Model


In online times, a “Donate” button and credit card seem invaluable for profit-making organizations as well as nonprofit models. Among leadership training and candidate development programs, resources are raised in multiple ways, from diversified programs, to strong alumni cohorts, grants, organizational affiliations, major and multiple events, donations, accurate recordkeeping and participant fees. Underlying stable finances are marketing, publicity and sales efforts.

Diversified Programs

Alumni Strength (.pdf)
Alumni Policies and Procedures (.pdf)


Dow Progress Report (.pdf)
Grant Request Guide (On Google Drive)


Donor Lists (On Google Drive)
Recordkeeping (On Google Drive)


Fundraising Event Program (.pdf)
Event Sponsorships (On Google Drive)
Donation Form 
Participant Scholarships (On Google Drive)
Scholarship Application (.pdf)


Print (On Google Drive)


Advisory Board Qualifications (On Google Drive)
Brochures (On Google Drive)
Direct Messaging
Print/Online Ads

External Relations
Radio/Television (On Google Drive)
Promotional Outreach (On Google Drive)
Photo Collections (On Google Drive)
Video, Podcasts, Website (On Google Drive)
Donor Publications (On Google Drive)
Newsletters (On Google Drive)


Announcing Open Applications (On Google Drive)
Assessing Candidates
Flyer (On Google Drive)



Project Assignment (On Google Drive)
Discovery/Lecture/Interaction/Tour (On Google Drive)
Calendar of Events (On Google Drive)
Day-long Session (On Google Drive)
Coaching (On Google Drive)
Media Training (On Google Drive)
Orientation Class (On Google Drive)


Weekend Model (On Google Drive)
Annual Session Model 
Speaker Presentation (On Google Drive)
Speaker Invitation (On Google Drive)
International Travel (On Google Drive)