Resource Library

Sister District MA-RI Case Study: Virtual Phonebank

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Calling for: Harold “Howie” Hayes
Date: Sunday 3/15/20 (same time/day as regularly scheduled in-person event that had been cancelled)
Time: 4-6pm
Attendees: 14 (11 via Zoom, 3 via email)
Training time: 5-30 mins
Call time: <120
Total dials: ~600
RSVP form URL

How did you recruit for the party?

Email, Facebook

How did you confirm/remind RSVPs?

Our MA-RI Knack system (see confirmation/reminder email below).

How did you prepare for the party?

Figure out Zoom options, 3 co-hosts connected 15 mins early to test.

How did the party flow? What happened?

We had 14 callers, made about 600 dials, and talked to about 60 voters. The campaign indicated in OpenVPB that we should leave voicemails, which made for a really different experience than we were used to. Had some challenges with getting a few new callers connected and logged in, but overall it was a great experience. We definitely learned our way around Zoom a little, which is good since we plan to do this again.

Most of the time we had everyone in the main “room” of the call muted, to prevent distractions, but we could see each other the whole time. A few people disconnected from Zoom and reconnected for our check-in and at the end.

We began with a short introduction to OpenVPB, outlined a timeline of check-ins for the call, and gave a briefing covering notes that Gaby and other teams had posted on Slack (COVID preparations, questions about Howie’s taxes, etc.). About halfway through, we un-muted everyone for a check-in. At the end we un-muted again and had a good conversation sharing thoughts and experiences. At the end of the call, everyone on Zoom gave us their tallies (total dials & total contacts) via the Zoom chat.

Some people were new callers with us, who had really resisted phonebanking before, and were grateful for the opportunity. I always love when that happens!

What worked?

It was helpful to have multiple hosts. Zoom lets you make another participant a co-host, giving them permissions almost like the host. One of us moved into a “breakout room” to give support to one or two individuals at a time (and in one case supplemented with a separate phone call). Also we had three people who joined extra-virtually — they didn’t connect by Zoom, but let us know they were calling via email, and asked questions/reported numbers that way.

What challenges did you encounter and how did you navigate?

For a couple of less-tech savvy participants, it was a challenge just helping them figure out how to switch between the Zoom window and their web browsers, which we overcame via phone call/screen sharing. Credit to those participants for taking the plunge!

Invitation and reminder communications:

Invite and Reminder

Hi Patrick –

Thanks for RSVPing to a Sister District event! [For night-before reminder email: Your Sister District event is coming up soon!] Here are the details:

Virtual Get-Out-the-Vote Party: Flip the PA State House!
Sunday, March 15 at 4:00PM
Zoom Call
Virtual Meeting
Host contact info: [add email address]

To get ready for the virtual get-out-the-vote party:

  1. Go to our Take Action On Your Own page, to find the phonebank link and to print out a tally sheet and a candidate dossier.
  2. Find a comfortable spot, and have your computer and phone ready. Earbuds or headphones for helpful for hands-free dialing.
  3. At 4pm on Sunday, join the video call [Zoom meeting link] on your computer. You can stay connected the whole time, or check in periodically.

Note: If you don’t have the Zoom video conferencing app on your computer already, please download it here before the event. Most people should choose the “Zoom Client for Meetings.”)

If you have to cancel, contact the host directly at the email address given above. (Don’t reply to this email.)

See you soon!

Your host and the Sister District Project MA-RI team

P.S. Have a change of plans and can’t make the event? Or want to do something a little extra? Consider making a donation [ActBlue link] to our candidates!