Volunteer Activities

How We Help Get Democrats Elected

Essentially, Sister District volunteers act as an extension of a campaign’s field and fundraising operations. That means raising money (mostly in small-dollar donations), and making direct contact with voters through phone calls, knocking on doors, text messages, and postcards. Depending on the size of your team, there may also be opportunities in team leadership, event management, email marketing, social media, and other aspects of organizing.

But most importantly, we have fun! Our volunteers build meaningful relationships with each other, and that’s what keeps all of us going even when the news cycle feels exhausting.


Making Phone Calls to Voters

Person-to-person interactions are proven to be the most effective way to increase voter turnout and enthusiasm. Outside of knocking on doors, your phone calls will do the most to ensure the Democrats get back in charge. If you’ve never phonebanked before, don’t worry! We’ll help you ever step of the way. As many of our volunteers have learned, phonebanking isn’t hard – and makes a huge difference.

When phonebanking is live, the correct links can be accessed from each candidate’s page.

Woman phonebanking for EMILY's List and Sister District Pennsylvania candidates
A female Washington DC volunteer holds a stack of postcard to voters


Writing Postcards to Voters

Sending postcards to voters in swing districts has become a popular way to support campaigns from afar. It’s fun, easy, and you can do it right at home.

We work directly with each campaign to develop postcard drives, including a script or talking points, voter addresses, postcard design, goals and timeline for the drive, and so forth. Then, we deliver a package with specific directions and materials to our District Captains, who coordinate postcarding efforts for their teams.

Are postcards effective?

We’ve been wondering the same thing! So, in 2018 we partnered with Voter Participation Center to run a randomized control trial to determine if postcards increased voter turnout for the general election in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The results weren’t conclusive, but one thing is for sure – postcards are a fantastic way to get new volunteers involved in state legislative races!

Check out more of our research around sending postcards to voters:

A board that reads Voting Day next to I voted stickers

SDAN+VPC VR Voting Pipeline Postcard Study

People who received a handwritten postcard along with a pre-filled voter registration form did not vote at higher rates than people who did not receive the postcard.

A stack of hundreds of handwritten postcards to voters being held in a person's hand

2018 GOTV Postcarding Results

In both our Pennsylvania and Michigan samples, receiving a handwritten postcard during GOTV did not significantly increase the odds that a person would vote.

A bunch of postcards with an outline of America and the word VOTE filled in with marker

Voter Registration Postcarding 2: A Replication with VPC + SDAN

The postcard chaser appears to work particularly well among people who had been registered before and just recently moved to their new address (“Movers”).

A hand puts several dozen handwritten postcards to voters in a mail slot

VPC+SDAN Postcarding Experiment Results

This experiment tested the use of postcards to boost voter registration.


Knocking Doors for Candidates

Canvassing (knocking on doors) is the most effective way to identify supporters, persuade those on the fence, and make sure voters get to the polls. We understand that not everyone lives close enough to knock doors but, if you can, this is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Person-to-person interaction is exactly what we need right now to win elections and fight for progressive policies. Plus, you often get to meet the candidates themselves!

Curious to learn more? Read all about what it’s like from a volunteer who canvassed in Sarasota, FL for Margaret Good—our first win of 2018.

Two volunteers text voters


Sending Text Messages to Voters

In 2019, we’re partnering with Red2Blue to provide next-level text messaging support for our endorsed candidates in Virginia. This partnership gives Sister District volunteers priority access to texting opportunities in Virginia, training, and technical support with the ThruText platform. All SDP volunteers will need to join Sister District’s dedicated channel on Red2Blue’s Slack, complete a short ThruText training, and pass quick quiz before texting can begin.

In 2017, we partnered with the Virginia Coordinated Campaign to offer textbanking in support of our candidates, and Sister District volunteers sent over 185,000 texts, In 2018, we sent almost 280,000.

Read stories, tips, tricks, and lessons learned from our volunteers:

By the Numbers: What We've Done (So far!)

phone calls made

doors knocked

postcards written

text messages sent

A group of volunteers at an event hold signs

Volunteer Events

Small-dollar fundraisers go a long way!

Our local teams are creative and fun-loving, and throw all kinds of events, from small-dollar fundraisers to big-ticket events. Pizza party fundraiser? Volunteer education night? Tabling at the Strolling of the Heifers? (Yeah, it’s a thing!) Whatever your event is, we can help with logistics and fundraising technology like text-to-donate.

If the event is big enough, one of the Sister District co-founders or even your candidate might be able to attend! If you’ve had a great event recently and want to write about it for our blog, please contact your District Captain to get in touch with our communications team.

And since no party is complete without some great outfits, grab a couple Sister District t-shirts to show off your passion for getting Democrats elected to state legislatures!

Other Ways to Volunteer

Data and Research

Although we have a small number of paid staff at Sister District, we couldn’t do our work without a wide variety of highly skilled volunteers who are willing to contribute their time in other ways.

Our volunteer researchers are working on a number of exciting projects, including 2020 race targeting and vetting, Sister District alumni legislative accomplishments tracking, and other internal projects. If you’d like to get involved, please sign up here!

Civic Engagement with Sister District Action Network

Sister District Action Network (SDAN) is our affiliated 501(c)(4) organization. SDAN also provides non-partisan opportunities to the Sister District community, including:

  • Educating voters on the importance of state and local elections,
  • Engaging in discussions about state policies, gerrymandering, politics and leadership through the quarterly Book Club,
  • Training new leaders interested in becoming community activists,
  • Conducting research in partnership with nonprofit, academic, and other partners to test new methods to increase civic engagement and voter participation, and
  • Disseminating best practices for voter engagement and civic participation.