Digital Organizing: What Is It?
When was the last time you picked up your landline to make a call? Has it been months? Maybe even years?
If the answer is yes, then you’re in good company. In 2017, federal researchers found that for the first time in our nation’s history, the majority of households rely on cell phones rather than landlines to make calls. And while this may not be the most shocking piece of news you’ll read today, it does hold serious implications for candidates who need to reach supporters and persuade voters while running for political office.
Traditionally, candidates have relied heavily on landlines to identify supporters, persuade undecided voters, and recruit volunteers to help with their campaigns. But with fewer and fewer people reachable by landline, and more and more people spending time online, the success of modern candidates depends on their ability to reach their audiences on mobile devices, through social media, and across other relevant online platforms.
As a result, digital organizing — the use of online tools and platforms to identify a candidate’s supporters, engage those supporters, and mobilize them to take action — has became one of the main building blocks for running effective and engaging political campaigns.
During the 2018 election cycle, digital organizing tools played a critical role in helping Democrats across the country win up and down the ballot. Here are a few of the tools that we used in 2018 to help our clients reach their supporters and harness the power of grassroots energy online:
Hustle and Spoke. Hustle and Spoke are both peer-to-peer texting tools that allow organizers and volunteers to send custom texts to lists of potential supporters, volunteers, and donors. Our clients used both of these tools to solicit donations, recruit volunteers, invite people to events, and to increase overall engagement with supporters who had opted into text updates from the campaign. These text messages can have an open rate that is 2 to 3 times higher than email, making them one of the most immediate and effective ways to put your message in front of the person you’re trying to reach.
Mobilize America. Mobilize allows candidates to create pages for campaign events online. When a supporter signs up through a mobilize event page, they receive an automated email with event details, and their information syncs directly into VAN — allowing organizers to easily confirm volunteers and commit them for additional shifts.
Mini VAN. Mini VAN is an app that allows canvassers to enter in all data from canvassing through their phones. And the best part, this real-time data is automatically synced to VAN — eliminating the need to do data entry after a long, hot (freezing, fun, exhausting, etc.) day knocking doors.
Action Network. The Action Network is a CRM that allows you to send emails, create petition pages, and track voter, supporter, and donor information all in one place. Its clean interface makes it simple to use (a favorite among our staff) and a good place for campaigns to begin building engagement with their list by using asks to attend events, volunteer, or donate.