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From the Field, Research and Experiments

2018 Sister District Impact Report

After rigorous program evaluation, the results are in…

Recently, we released our 2018 SDP Impact Report. The report goes into detail about Sister District’s 2018 activities – especially our fundraising and field efforts, our amazing volunteer base, and feedback from campaigns on our work. This post details some of the key points from the report.

Field and Fundraising

In 2018, Sister District had the pleasure of supporting 32 races. Of those races, 25 were full field and fundraising support, 3 were alumna candidates (fundraising only), and 4 were digital-only endorsements. Sister District’s 75+ teams and affiliates all over the country provided heroic field and fundraising contributions to those races, helping to ensure that 96% of Sister District candidates supported with full field and fundraising efforts outperformed the last Democrat that ran in their district. (The only 2019 race that underperformed the last general election was Margaret Good’s 2018 special election race. This is typical — special elections often underperform general elections.) Let’s take a closer look at those contributions.

Quick 2018 Takes

  • We put in the hours. Sister District volunteers contributed 38,235 hours of time to support official candidates with field efforts (canvassing, phonebanking, postcarding, and textbanking).
  • We raised big (small-dollar) bucks. Sister District volunteers raised $763,443 directly for official SDP candidates.
  • Fundraising support went to a diverse slate. 80.60% of fundraising went to women candidates, 40.77% went to candidates of color, and 11.05% went to LGBTQ candidates.
  • We worked on close races. 54.69% of fundraising, 73.68% of canvassing, and 56.55% of phonebanking went to races decided by 5% or less.

Official Sister District Races

Our field programs have grown substantially since 2017.
  • Canvassing — Even though we are a remote organization, some of our Sister District teams were huge canvassers. SDP volunteers knocked on 47,888 doors, representing approximately 2,660 volunteer hours (18 doors/hr). Compared to 2017, Sister Districters knocked on 57.07% more doors in 2018!
  • Phonebanking — Phonebanking is the bread and butter of remote volunteers because it is a great way to talk directly to voters. Sister District volunteers took advantage of this, making 160,142 phone calls on behalf of 2018 state legislature candidates, contributing approximately 6,406 volunteer hours (25 calls/hr). These incredible efforts helped us to increase our phone support for candidates by 93.78% over 2017.
  • Postcarding — Postcarding has become a popular and inexpensive way for volunteers to interact with voters. In 2018, amazing Sister Districters nationwide wrote and sent a total of 273,111 postcards, representing approximately 27,311 volunteer hours (10 cards/hr). Sister District volunteers increased our postcarding efforts by a whopping 571.50% over 2017.
  • Textbanking — As we become an increasingly mobile society, textbanking has become a popular way of reaching voters quickly. Over the 2018 cycle, Sister District volunteers sent 278,750 text messages to voters, contributing approximately 1,858 volunteer hours (150 texts/hr). Compared to 2017, Sister District volunteers sent 53.16% more text messages in 2018.
  • Fundraising — Grassroots fundraising assistance is crucial for candidates to be competitive in their races. Sister District volunteers raised $763,443 for candidates. Sister District brings small dollar donations to campaigns, with an average donation of $22.37, and raised a median of $27,562.02 for each candidate. Contributions made through Sister District efforts accounted for a median of 7.01% of each candidate’s total fundraising. In 2018, Sister District volunteers raised 116.38% more money for candidates than in 2017, and the number of donations increased by 309.54%.
Funds raised directly for candidates by Sister District volunteers.

Unofficial Races

In addition to contributing to official Sister Races, Sister District teams also serve as hubs of civic engagement, supporting other candidates and causes all over the country. Sister District volunteers contributed an additional 5,935 volunteer hours to those races, knocking on 17,500 doors, calling 15,951 voters, sending 43,250 postcards, and sending 201,400 text messages. They also raised over $211,000!

Electoral Success and Impact

Sister District supported more than twice the number of races it supported in 2018 (32 vs 15). Sister District volunteers contributed to success for our candidates in multiple ways, from helping them outperform the last Democrat who ran for that seat to helping them win.

Demographics

Demographics of Sister District candidates in 2018.

Sister District strives to build a diverse bench by supporting candidates who are traditionally underrepresented in official bodies, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks (and those who represent intersections of these identities). Of the 25 Sister Races:

  • 21 candidates were women
  • 8 were people of color
  • 3 identified as LGBTQ
  • 18 candidates were running for a state legislative office for the first time
  • 9 were under 40 years of age

Race outcomes

Out of the 25 official Sister Races…

  • 14 candidates (56%) won their races
  • 14 races were decided by less than 5% (56%)
  • 96% of our official Sister candidate races outperformed the last Democrat who ran in a midterm election in their district
  • 8% of our candidates won in districts that Hillary Clinton lost by 47% or more (compared to just 3% of Democratic state legislative candidates nationally)

2018 Sister Candidates Satisfaction

SDP surveyed the 25 Sister Races who received full field and fundraising support throughout the 2018 cycle and found that our candidates were extremely satisfied with the support they received from Sister District.

  • SDP fundraising support received an average rating of 9.8/10
  • SDP field support received an average rating of 9.5/10
  • Satisfaction with SDP volunteers received an average rating of 9.7/10

The candidates and their staff also reported that SDP’s fundraising, field, and general support was superior to the same support offered by other national groups (9.1/10, 8.3/10, 9.3/10 respectively). Comments from our candidates and staff reflected their deep appreciation for Sister District’s support.

Volunteer Statistics

Over 100 team leaders from across the country attended the 2019 Sister District Summit in San Francisco.

Sister District has grown significantly since our founding after the 2016 election. SDP saw a net gain of 37 new teams and affiliates in 2018, and our list of actively subscribed members grew by nearly 15,000.

Volunteers at a glance

  • There are 76 total teams/affiliates across states
  • 50.04% of Sister District volunteers are 40–64 years old and 27.08% are 23–39
  • 78.79% of SDP volunteers identify as female
  • All 50 states are represented on our email list, plus Washington, D.C.

Team Satisfaction

Sister District is a volunteer led organization, so we surveyed our team leaders to get their input about the 2018 cycle. We found that most of our teams are highly satisfied with their 2018 experiences and contributions.

  • Teams were highly satisfied with the candidates they worked with (9.1/10)
  • Teams felt good about their contributions, even if candidates lost (8.3/10)
  • Teams felt that they helped move the needle in critical state elections (8.2/10)
  • Teams felt like a valued part of Sister District (8.3/10)
  • Teams felt energized to continue working with Sister District in 2019 (8.2/10)
  • Teams felt that SDP helped to deepen their commitment to civic engagement (8.3/10)

Looking back helps us to remember how much work it truly takes to influence state elections. As these races become more competitive and more expensive, Sister District’s mission is more important than ever: ensure that state legislatures represent their constituents. Together, Sister District volunteers had a meaningful and measurable impact on candidate success.