In our organizing experience, it did not matter what tool a campaign used; what mattered most was getting our volunteers to use it. The Tuesday Company is proud that Team is the only digital tool that allows organizers to build relationships with volunteers at scale – all in a way that organizers get credit for in VAN! Now, we are proud to connect volunteers with each other in order to build powerful digital communities that facilitate long-term movement-building.
Our new community features were developed after completing dozens of practitioner interviews, conducting extensive user testing, and understanding insights from over 2,700 midterm clients, including all the Red-to-Blue congressional races that used Team via the DCCC.
Organizing Best Practice: “Volunteers walk into a field office because they’re interested in a candidate or cause, but, if they ever come back, it’s because they have a relationship with YOU”.
The same concept is true with online organizing. The most critical aspect of whether an organization was successful at online organizing was the organizers’ ability to build a sense of community amongst digital volunteers. A volunteer might download an app because they want to help a campaign, but if they ever use it again, it’s because of a relationship with an organizer.
What should you look for in organizing tech? A product that allows your organizers to get to know their volunteers, and allows volunteers to befriend one another. “Relational organizing” isn’t just about relationships between volunteers and target voters; in the best scenario, it is also about relationships between staff and volunteers and between volunteers and other volunteers.
Why makes Team unique? As organizers we knew that the ability to build a relationship between organizer and volunteer is critical. We built Team Chat, a feature that automatically greets new volunteers and connects them with an organizer, to make relationship building scalable. Before Team Chat, fewer than 20% of an organization’s total users were taking actions like sharing content and contacting their friends on Team. After Team Chat’s launch, this number jumped to 80%. Using Team to connect volunteers to organizers quadrupled the volume of relational organizing actions volunteers took on a weekly basis.
This increase in digital engagement translates into physical turnout. In order to recruit new supporters in Illinois’ 6th District, Sean Casten for Congress used Team to invite hundreds of prospective volunteers to house parties across the district. Attendees met Sean via live stream, downloaded Team on their phones, and received personalized greetings from staffers in the app. With Team’s community features, Casten for Congress exemplified the snowflake model of community organizing – translated to our digital world. Along the way, they strengthened bonds between organizers and volunteers to drive more shifts.
Organizing Best Practice: “If it isn’t in VAN, it didn’t happen.”
What should you look for in organizing tech? A product that fits naturally into how you’re organizing offline, so you can have a holistic program.
What makes Team unique? We built Team with the deepest NGP/VAN integration on the market so that we could return all the data an organizer needs. We also made it possible to give organizers goals and track their progress directly in the Team Dashboard. We had the highest volunteer engagement rates of any organizing product in 2018, because organizers bought into using Team as part of their programs.
To sum it all up: Our experience shows that without these features – features that allow you to organize online – tech products can make an organizer’s life harder by adding another task to their plate. Organizing products that do not automatically connect organizers with volunteers cause your organizers to spend significant time on impersonal following-ups and cold outreach. Plus, due to the lower total numbers of volunteers contacted, these digital tools catalyze less volunteer participation overall.
Tech is valuable because it scales. By automatically connecting organizers and volunteers, Team makes organizers’ job easier. Our data shows that Team’s relationship building features increase app use and volunteer participation, from event attendance to campaign donation, across the board.