While he was the National Field Organizer for President Barack Obama in 2012, Jeremy Bird realized the power behind community organizing: building relationships. Bird is now the president and co-founder of 270 Strategies, a consulting firm that partners with campaigns, companies, and causes. Since 2013, the firm has particularly championed the integration of digital strategy in grassroots organizing:
Build relationships, and through those relationships, you create real power. Then, you create real action. You only build relationships if you’re willing to listen and actually understand where somebody is coming from. To me, that’s the foundation of everything.
The real world is online and offline. People are deciding who they’re going to vote for in part based on information they’re getting [on Facebook]. They’re building relationships with people who don’t live near them because of their affinities and the things they like online. We’re going to lose because we’re not reaching people where they really are.
We need tools like Team that completely understand the needs of the organizer. What we’re seeing with Team is the ability to manage the relationships you have with a lot of volunteers and to communicate with them. The app is letting organizers create a group that is stronger and more connected.
Two things that get me most excited about Team: one is the ability for people to push out the campaign’s message in their own networks; especially with the way that algorithms are working today, it is more powerful than almost anything else you can do online. You can buy digital ad, but to have the ability to have that ad or message coming from me out to my network is so much more powerful.
And then two is using digital to build the bonds that you need to have in those relationships between organizer to volunteer leader, volunteer leader to volunteer, and amongst volunteer leaders and amongst volunteers. That’s what a really good organizing program enables you to do, and then to be able to put technology on top of that makes it even better.
We’re seeing the success of people using it all over the country. I think people are saying “oh I finally have a tool that is sort of like mirrored up to what I’m trying to do.