Phone, Text and E-Mail Hints for Organizers

Now that the campaign is over, I’m putting together some thoughts that I have been thinking about for a bit. These hints are designed for people who are trying to get people to volunteer for a cause. They are intended for people who are trying to reach people who might be willing to volunteer for an effort or cause. I started this and decided that crowd-sourcing might be helpful. Is this useful? Or am I just stating the obvious? Thoughts, suggestions?

1) Keep your cell phone with you, powered on and fully charged.

2) Voice mail should answer with a message that as a minimum includes your name. If appropriate include your title and an alternate phone number and e-mail. Mailbox should never be full.

3) E-Mail should have an auto-signature that includes your phone number.

1) Get to know your volunteers. There are generational differences. Often it is the young retired people who have the most time.

2) Not everyone is comfortable with every kind of communication. Don’t expect everyone to text, e-mail or have a cell phone. Some use their cell phones only when on the road. There is no one size fits all.

3) Maximize your time frames for reaching volunteers. Learn who you can reach at 6 AM and 2 AM.

4) If someone returns your call, save the number.

1) If you want the recipient to read the e-mail, put relevant information in the subject line. EXAMPLES:
- To Joe from Kate – Time sensitive information on rally.
- Personal to Joe – Need you to present at Tuesday’s panel.
I’ve received e-mails with a subject line that says something like Tuesday Panel on Election. Since I’ve received a dozen e-mails on the topic, I’ve just assumed it was yet another announcement.

2) Don’t burn your list. Plan your e-mails to have the appropriate frequency.


6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Response from Facebook Friend

    “I think the most irritating thing as a volunteer is getting calls from organizers using different phones (many times I let unknown numbers go to voicemail because I’m on all sorts of lists) and also when the campaigns decide to farm out contacting me to someone other than the organizer I’d been working with.” Another comment was “excellent.” Still not sure if this is something that will be helpful

  2. And once you get them...

    …make sure there is enough for them to do of that which they are comfortable doing. I did not do as much for EW as I thought I might because the emphasis was so heavy on voter contact. I signed up to do data entry at the office and showed up for a shift most weekends between primary and general, but so often I found myself twiddling my thumbs.

    • On voter contact...

      That’s an interesting point. I guess some serious research has been done in recent years on what sorts of campaign tactics really make a difference in election results. I know we in Sudbury used to do mainly visibility, and there are still people who feel that that is pretty important. From what I’ve heard though, the absolutely most important thing is person-to-person contact — door-to-door canvassing. Second (and I think it’s a far second) is phone calling. (Personally, I’ve never been impressed with phone calling — and I’ve done a lot of it. I don’t any more.) Way down at the bottom — virtually indistinguishable from the noise, as I recall, is visibility. I know this is counter-intuitive to many people, but it seems to be true. (This all assumes that we have in the first place an outstanding candidate, as we did with Elizabeth Warren — someone who could articulate the issues in a convincing, honest, and powerful manner. We really haven’t seen that in a while, and we were incredibly fortunate to have her.)

      I know that many people are uncomfortable with the idea of knocking on doors. We did our best in Sudbury to make it easy — we paired new people with experienced ones. Everyone told us they had a good experience. A lot of people returned again and again. But it’s true that there’s an initial reluctance to do this among many people. (I certainly had that reluctance myself when I started knocking on doors 40-some odd years ago.)

      So (other than last week, when I was out of town, and a couple of weekends in August), today was the first Saturday since late April that I wasn’t out knocking on doors. It did feel strange. I mainly wandered around the house, bumping into doors…

      • Carl, Thanks for Posting

        As you know, I very much agree with the importance of canvassing. Thanks for taking the lead in your area on this. Even people who are uncomfortable with voter contact can be helpful. If you partner with someone, do the driving, keep track of the route, write “Sorry I missed you” on lit, you can be useful in doing something that works. I had someone I partnered with who just wasn’t comfortable talking to voters. I would knock on the door. Once it was clear no one was going to answer, I would head to the next house. He would handle writing a note while I was knocking at the next door. It increased my number of door knocks significantly.

        On a down ballot race like Democratic State Committee or Governors Council, visibility on election day can make a difference. But for something like Elizabeth Warren’s race for U. S. Senate, I believe that you are spot on. (You don’t get much more down ballot than Democratic State Committee!)

    • Kate's tips on dealing with volunteers...

      …should be part of the MDP’s field manual by now. She mentions giving volunteers valuable work.

      sabutai   @   Sun 18 Nov 11:36 AM
  3. I can preach the gospel of voter contact as well as anyone...

    …and you’ll get no argument from me about its importance and effectiveness. However, in my case it is not apprehension due to lack of experience, but rather knowing I’m not comfortable with it due to plenty of experience. There was a time that stuffing envelopes was a common volunteer activity. Not glamourous by any definition, but something I’d much rather do. There are plenty of things that go into a campaign that support voter contact such as turf cutting (which in the EW campaign seemed to be done mostly by campaign staff but I very much enjoy), data entry, and putting together canvass packets. I also have and am willing to train others to canvass and phonebank, but only talk to voters myself with extreme reluctance unless it’s manning a booth or some other context where people are approaching me rather than vice versa.

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