Relational organizing is a recent innovation in voter contact proven to increase voter turnout. The principles behind relational organizing are not new to politics. Effective campaigns are about reaching the right voter with the right message from the right messenger at the right moment.
What is new is the technology to implement these voter contact strategies at scale. Campaigns of all sizes have access to sophisticated voter files and social networks.
Here are some strategies for your campaign to tap into the benefits of relational organizing.
Why You Need Relational Organizing
It’s easier than ever for voters to avoid your campaign. Their smartphone alerts them to “political spam” (if they even answer unknown numbers), their smart doorbell means they don’t open the door to see who’s there, and their smart TV helps them skip commercials.
If you want a chance to get through to a voter, you need the help of their family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. In-depth academic studies have also found that relational organizing is more effective than any other turnout tactic available to campaigns.
Focus On Voting
Relational organizing is a way to give volunteers and supporters a micro action – small for them, but in aggregate, big for the campaign. It’s great for actions around voting, like registering, requesting a ballot, or going to a polling place.
These are things that are non-partisan and universally recognized as good things to do. Asking for donations, volunteer time, or event attendance can be too big of a risk to social capital for many supporters.
Create a page on your website or offline handout that has the key messages you want your supporters to share with their friends, like election dates, early voting options, and polling place locations. Your campaign’s supporters will know the right way to reach their friends and the arguments they’ll find most persuasive.
Recruit & Educate
Contact your supporters via your online channels such as Facebook and email inviting them to help reach their friends to drive turnout. Let them know how important their endorsement of your campaign is to their contacts.
Drive them to the resources you created, ask them to reach out however they normally speak with their friends, and report back on how it went. It’s as simple as that.
You don’t need special technology or data – or even a budget – to get started with relational organizing. A basic WinRed petition page asking volunteers to promise to contact 3 friends to get out and vote is completely free. For a modest investment, you can use referral marketing software with a “build a plan to vote” form to track the results via social media from your volunteers.
If you want your relational organizing effort to be more targeted and measurable, the Swipe Red app connects to your voter file and prioritizes known contacts from your volunteers. The app also makes it easy to track actions volunteers take on your campaign’s behalf.
If you want to connect with voters and drive them to turnout this election year, your campaign needs to use relational organizing tactics.