More women may be getting politically involved than ever before — but even more are needed. “Our democracy should be reflective and women should have representation at all levels of government,” says Melissa Richmond, Vice President of Running Start, a nonprofit that trains and inspires young women to run for office. But the world of politics can often seem totally out of reach for many people — and especially for women.

Without the right examples, experience, or connections, where does one even start? Volunteering for a campaign can be a great start, and can provide invaluable support to candidates as well as experience for the volunteer.

1. Do your research. Chances are, you already know which party or candidate you prefer to get involved with, but make sure you’ve read up on each candidate’s platforms and the issues they’re campaigning around.

2. Determine how much time you have to volunteer. Know how much time you can commit per week. While there is no shortage of volunteer work available, and the more you’re able to put in, the more you’ll get out of it, any amount of time counts!

3. Sign up. Whether you contact a candidate’s office or answer a call for volunteers, reach out through your chosen candidate’s website, phone number, or office. Campaigns are always looking for volunteers for all kinds of tasks and from all locations.

4. Tell your networks about the candidate you’re supporting. It might not be an explicit requirement of your volunteer task, but word of mouth is extremely effective and one of the best ways you can support your candidate.

5. Be flexible and willing to learn. From data entry to knocking on doors to registering new voters to social media outreach, there are countless things that campaigns need help with, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t get to do something glamorous. Often the most seemingly thankless tasks — like, say, cleaning the campaign office — could have a major impact on campaign morale and leave a lasting impression.

(photo via Getty Images)