Getting people to actually show up to an event or rally is a challenge for everyone. While Facebook has made it easier than ever before to get hundreds or even thousands of RSVPs, any experienced organizer is quick to point out that those clicks rarely translate into actual participants or volunteers.
For Emily Krieger, a field organizer for Washington Conservation Voters, the process of confirming volunteers, usually involved sending out dozens of emails and personally calling people one-by-one.
“The way I’ve done all the confirmations in the past is to call each person individually, and you can’t start to do that until right before the event,” said Krieger. “If someone signs up for an event and I give them a call, they might just screen their calls and we would never really know if they were going to show up.”
This year, Washington Conservation Voters used Hero, a field organizer’s robot with a personal touch, to help automate the work of contacting and confirming volunteers in the three state races the organization worked this election cycle. The software provides 2-way communication over both SMS and email while integrating with iCal.
Krieger said that Hero made it a lot easier to communicate with supporters over text message and that the software not only saved time but also increased both the number of confirmations and cancellations so that her organization had a much better sense of how many people would actually attend.
“It’s very ingrained in our culture that people respond to text messages so it has made it easier,” she said.
A surprising thing happened when Krieger started using Hero to automatically send text message notifications and reminders to volunteers. Instead of simply confirming whether or not they could attend, people began to ask questions and start conversations about the campaign. People who may not have had enough experience to feel confident volunteering were empowered to ask for the support they needed.
“When a volunteer receives a text message from me they feel very comfortable,” said Krieger. “It allowed people to feel a lot more comfortable communicating and asking questions.”
With the election behind us, Krieger said that Washington Conservation Voters may continue relying on Hero during the upcoming legislative session.
“We’re always doing some sort’ve work that’s engaging volunteers,” she said. “I think it works really great and I’d love to continue using it and see how it performs outside of the campaign season.”
The 2016 election was a challenging one for all of us, but Hero may have been what pushed one of the candidates supported by Washington Conservation Voters to victory. At press time Mark Mullet of the 5th State Senate District was in the lead with 51 percent of the vote in a race considered too close to call more than a week after the election.
Public school teachers in Oklahoma are some of the worst paid in the nation, and with enrollment on the rise, the state is facing an education crisis. To alleviate the pay disparity and improve public education in the state, a coalition of business and civic leaders partnered with the state teacher’s union to put forward a one-cent sales tax.
It can be challenging to form partnerships between different groups during political campaigns even when their interests are completely aligned. Beyond any legal restrictions, organizations need to protect their data and membership lists above everything, but Hero, a new software solution for campaign field organizing, makes it easy for campaigns to work together while still keeping their data protected.
“Campaigns are always worried about protecting their data, but they have allies that they need to work alongside to meet their goals and sometimes that means sharing data,” said Ward Curtin, Field Director for the Yes on 779 Campaign. “Hero for us answered everyone’s concerns that their data was protected. Its main function is to make the online organizing data functions more efficient and Hero is certainly up to that challenge.”
Hero is a field organizer’s robot with a personal touch that coordinates 2-way communication over SMS, email and iCal.
“In this day and age no one answers a phone call from someone whose number is not in your cell phone,” said Curtin. “They’ll wait to hear a message first.”
The software allowed both the Oklahoma Education Association and the Yes on 779 campaign to maintain their own databases on the Voter Action Network (VAN) without compromising the security of their members’ data. Not only did Hero allow the two different VAN databases to securely communicate with each other, the software also integrated with the campaign’s e-mail system and can easily integrate with other systems as well.
By working together both campaigns saved valuable time contacting voters, and helped to grow support for the tax using fewer resources. It also prevented voters from being needlessly contacted repeatedly, or relying on the two campaigns to regularly compare notes.
“Without Hero we’d have to do it on paper and then we’d have to enter it in, and then you’d have to make sure that paper makes it into a staffers hand and then you’d have to make sure that staffer gets it into VAN, so you’re burning time.” said Curtin. “There’s no other product out there that’s affordable that offers that offers the value and flexibility that I’ve seen in 16 years of organizing — especially for the price.”
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