Relational Organizing Meets Tech: Building Community thru Team

With about one week to go before the midterm elections, voter enthusiasm is at its highest level in over twenty years. Americans are “unusually engaged with this year’s midterms,” with heightened enthusiasm notably among voters who favor Democratic over Republican candidates.

Efforts to “reach” voters have historically been impersonal, short-term solutions; whether that entails surveying a potential voter over the telephone or sending a mass text to thousands of strangers at once. “Relational organizing” instead frames the issue of voter participation as community building work that goes beyond the conventional election cycle.

Relational organizing has been shown to be particularly effective in the current political landscape, where robocalls and spam tools are distrusted and go largely ignored. In fact, the Analyst Institute recently conducted a study on texting, in which it was determined that “warm” texts significantly outperformed “cold” texts: the difference being that “warm” texts depended on a pre-existing relationship between the texter and the recipient.

Mass text distribution tools like Hustle or Relay enable organizers to send thousands of customized messages at once, with a response rate of at least 3 times that of a phone call, which is approximately 9.3%. This is the power of moving from phone to text.

While an organizer using Hustle might see a response rate of about 1 in 9, we have seen a higher response rate with relational organizing practices.

By empowering organizers and field staff to prioritize 1:1 conversations and relationship-building, Team app achieves a 75% response rate. Sharing personal stories over Team encourages volunteers to activate their relationships with their community, moving beyond the idea of the impersonal mass text. Team has harnessed the power of relational organizing to transform the way communities are contacted and embedded into the political movements that affect them the most.

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