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Sharing Best Practices with Small and Local Campaigns

Canvasses and phone banks are both central to a successful outreach campaign, but it can be difficult to coordinate the two. With limited resources and voters’ distaste for too much contact from a campaign, it’s difficult to make sure that you don’t contact everyone twice, but also that you don’t miss opportunities to talk with potential supporters.

One of our campaigns was dealing with precisely this challenge recently. There are a few ways to solve this problem, and we thought other campaigns might benefit from reading about the approach we took.

Identifying phone bank targets

The campaign we were working with—a school board election in the Mid-Atlantic—wanted to speak to voters in person whenever possible, with phone banks as an alternative for voters they didn’t reach. The campaign started by canvassing their targets—for this particular canvass, young Democrats—and recorded the results of their encounters as they went.

After recording these results, the campaign could see when a household was busy or nobody was home. They then created a new list?this would become the phone bank target list?that included young Democrats who could not be successfully contacted during a phone bank. These were the criteria for their phone bank list:

In Camelot, lists are updated in real time to include all voters who match the selected criteria. So as soon as a canvasser marked a voter as not home or busy, that voter would then match the criteria for this list and would be added as a target for the “backup” phone bank.

Phone banking as a backup

Every few days, the campaign would go through their phone bank and call voters who had been added as targets—voters who canvassers couldn’t reach. No voter was contacted unnecessarily, yet the campaign still contacted every voter they could reasonably reach.