June 15, 2020
Phone Calls Boost Event Attendance!

Sister District Sonoma County East is all in on speaking with our volunteers and making invitations by phone.

We’ve fully adopted the Team Spreadsheet created by Sister District Organizing Department staff, which allows us to make phone calls through our list. The personal touch has increased event attendance, boosted participation by 25% at ZOOM chapter meetings, helped our fundraising totals and phonebanking dials, and we’ve gained quality data on our volunteers. Here’s how we got going.

We began by promoting an event in April with Gaby Goldstein, Director of Political Strategy and Co-Founder, as our Guest Speaker.

A month in advance, I got on a call with Neal, our Organizing Department staffer. He helped us create a 25-second voicemail message and a conversation script with primary, secondary, and tertiary asks.

  • Primary ask: will you join the event?
  • Secondary ask: will you join a phonebank?
  • Tertiary ask: if you’re able, will you donate?

He customized the columns of our team spreadsheet to correspond to those three asks with pull-down menus so any of our callers could very simply track the outcomes of their calls. The spreadsheet is so useful because you can see at a glance all the responses from all your volunteers and any caller can see what all other callers are doing; there’s a kind of mutual accountability in that way.

Now that we have that script and know how to customize our spreadsheet columns, we can re-create this phone recruitment program again and again and our recruitment team can make calls for our important events!

We put together a team of 7 volunteers to make calls. We have found that there are volunteers who want to make an hour or two of calls to invite volunteers to an event every month or so . . . we just needed to ask.

Training was simple, and the system is easy to use.

We have phone numbers for about 25% of our members. We made over 150 calls and had a 40% contact rate. Our volunteer callers reported positive reactions from our members – – people were happy we took the time to personally reach out.

We initially prioritized the call list using Mail Chimp activity ratings, planning to contact only those members who had recently engaged. We found once we started though that we were really making great progress, and were able to call all our members. We were also able to make contact with members we may not have had contact with in a while, inviting their participation. Another benefit was the ability to clean up our data – noting incorrect phone numbers and a few duplicates.

As our callers recorded outcomes, leaders then followed up on specific actions for the “YES” and “MAYBE” responses to each ask, such as sending the registration link for the event, or texting a meeting reminder; or inviting someone to the next phonebank.

TIP: We find it’s important for efficiency to have callers just make calls and record results. Then someone else goes through and follows up with emails.

Main takeaway

We suggest putting together a similar “outreach team” to call your volunteers to invite them to events. Have one leader work with Organizing Department staff to get you up and running. Once you’ve done it, that leader can then simply customize the script and spreadsheet columns and re-run that play for each important event.