Canvassing neighborhoods can be a worthwhile and highly efficient way to personally connect with your constituents and deliver, in-depth and face-to-face, your message to likely voters … IF you have the right tools.
It all comes down to careful planning, above all, and having the right equipment in place before sending the first volunteer out. Solid knowledge of the people you want to reach, the best ways of finding them, and the questions you’ll be asking them is key to getting your all-important message across in ways that resonate and inspire.
Here are 6 important steps, and some tools, that’ll help to ensure success in your canvassing efforts:
1. Collect the Right Data for Your Canvassing Effort
Data is the backbone of every successful campaign. Using the most up-to-date data will allow you to know your constituents before you even get to their door. That knowledge can then be put to good use by tailoring surveys to constituents grouped by interests or concerns, making your candidate or campaign more appealing and your questions more relevant. More relevant questions mean you’ll get better survey results, and better data for future outreach. But for this key process to be set in motion, you’ve got to have best voter data possible within your campaign’s budget and scope. You can find out more about data optionshere.
2. Have a Message and Plan for Collecting Information
When you knock on someone’s door, your need to have a script and a method to collect the invaluable information that you gather during this face-to-face interaction. Whether you’re filling out a paper or digital survey, or simply collecting information on whether the voter was home or not, this data will go a long way in making your future efforts more effective by allowing you to target.
While we’re at it, before making the investment, consider these recommendations foracquiring the right data for your campaign.
3. Get with the Times: Use Digital and Paper Walkbooks to Guide your Team
User-friendly canvassing technology can make or break your canvassing campaign. Whether you choosepaper walkbooks and a pen, ordigital walkbook apps and a handheld tablet, you must tailor your tools to your volunteers and train them to properly use them. While the convenience of digital walkbooks is a definite posititve, sometimes the old-fashion, pen-and-paper walkbooks are more appropriate. Digital walkbooks require a much higher learning curve than paper, and some older volunteers may struggle with the technology. Additionally, paper walkbooks don’t rely on a cell signal or battery life to function. Clickhere to find out more about your tech options.
4. Energetic Volunteers Willing to Burn Calories
You need a team of volunteers or canvassers who are ready to burn thousands of calories a day. The people knocking on doors are the public face of your campaign, and the builders of those personal connections that are extremely important in any election. You need energetic, knowledgeable, and personable volunteers who will help in forging a relationship with prospective voters.
How do you find these ideal volunteers?
Consider posting invitations on your campaign website and on social media platforms (especially those popular with the college-age crowd), appealing to like-minded groups and networks, recruiting through email campaigns, hosting “volunteer pizza nights,” and asking volunteers to ask their friends to aid your cause. Visual cues are extremely important in rallying a volunteer spirit, so be sure to include photos of happy volunteers at work or enjoying one of those pizza nights in all your online requests. A video appeal from the candidate could help swing supporters, too.
Before sending your volunteers out to canvass, decking them out in campaign hats, T-shirts or other gear can’t hurt, either!
5. Informative Material
All right, so your canvassers have knocked on a prospective voter’s door and had a conversation about the upcoming election. Now what? How do you ensure that you make a lasting impression and that voters remember you when they’re at the polls? Memorable, informative material, that’s how! This material can be anything from a door hanger to a brochure, and it should outline who you are, what you stand for, and who already supports you and your campaign. These pieces can also be left behind when no one comes to the door.
6. A Shoe Budget
A strong retail effort of hitting doors and pounding the pavement also requires a modest shoe budget. Even the best shoes will wear out within two solid weeks of knocking on doors and walking the streets in your community. This might seem obvious, but the obvious is often overlooked. If someone’s feet start hurting midway through a canvassing route, chances are that person won’t finish within your scheduled timeframe.
So, your canvassers need to be prepared to do some serious walking, and you should make sure they're dressed for the activity and the season. Good walking shoes and comfy but professional clothes — including a campaign T-shirt — are a must.
Ready to hit the streets and get your name out there? Give us a call at (855) 329-4327 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let our specialists tailor a canvassing campaign to your budget and goals.