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A/B testing for sendouts

A/B testing involves testing campaign communications online with your supporters. Most of the guide focuses on testing email communications, but you can also test web page formats and social media responses. The idea is to make a change and try two approaches (A/B) in order to measure, through response statistics, which approach gets the most uptake from audiences. It can be seen as a way of optimizing campaign communications but is also viewed as a form of active listening for many groups who want to campaign in ways that are better aligned with the interests of their supporter base.

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Apps and digital platforms for organizers TOOLS ROUNDUP

Modern organizing and campaigning is far from being a “digital-only” affair and while offline gatherings, election-based activities and group work may well happen offline, digital tools and platforms are often the vital thread that makes organizing large groups of people in networks possible without an army of staff or volunteers. Behind many of the leading new campaigns and movements, a set of digital tools and platforms are the glue that keep it all working together. Overall, the best tools and systems that support organizing work should be relatively inexpensive, “plug and play” – in the sense that they can rapidly be set up and deployed to support programs – and accessible in the sense that they are user-friendly or based on platforms that supporters and organizers already use and therefore do not require special training or a long adaptation period.

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Building networked coalitions

When multiple groups and organisations come together to work on a campaign, they often opt to collaborate together in a coalition. Coalitions, however, have garnered a reputation for causing campaigners headaches due to their frequently slow, bureaucratic and top-down decision-making processes. In this guide, we look at an alternative way of building powerful collaborative campaigns.

Networked coalitions, also called “networked campaigns”, harness the power of networks to develop more agile, dynamic and distributed campaigning coalitions that have proven themselves to be remarkably effective at building and channelling collective power.

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Canvassing and door knocking TOOLS ROUNDUP

Canvassing refers to going door-to-door in a neighborhood and having conversations about important issues with community members. It is an essential component of organizing. We use canvassing to talk to voters about issues that matter to them, spread our message and recruit new volunteers.

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Crowdsourcing ideas and content from supporters

Crowdsourcing is the process of opening a creative or problem-solving exercise to include input from a wider group outside of the usual inside thinking and decision-making channels. The wider concept of crowdsourcing includes solicitation of “user-generated content”, which can include multimedia creative submissions. In advocacy and movement-building, this can mean asking your supporters for their ideas to build a group visioning process or for their input on proposed policy platforms or even strategic campaign plans. The user-generated content side of advocacy crowdsourcing typically involves organizations receiving and using creative concepts from their base in campaign communications. Such creative can include campaign slogans, custom re-branding, images and videos.

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Dealing with disinformation

Disinformation (the intentional spread of false and misleading information) and misinformation (the unintentional spread of false information) are not new phenomena. What is new is the ability to rapidly create, disseminate, and consume false and misleading content on a global scale via an interconnected digital media landscape. The hostile actors (e.g., the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency) who create disinformation campaigns rely on provocative, divisive, and/or disturbing content to get our attention in an immensely crowded digital media landscape. The goal is to evoke emotion. Emotions like anger, jealousy, and fear drive content resharing on social media platforms. 

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Digital security basics for campaigners

Digital security practices help protect campaigners from malicious online attacks and intrusive surveillance efforts led either by groups that are hostile to your agenda or by repressive government agencies.

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Distributed organizing

Distributed organizing activates a network of self-starting supporters/campaigners in multiple locations, which can spread across geographical boundaries, interests and cultural groups. It draws on the initiative and energy of volunteer organizers to start groups and lead teams with varying degrees of autonomy. In comparison, traditional NGO-led campaigning and party-led political organizing tends to rely on more command-and-control leadership and paid staff and organizers to mobilize others to take action and raise awareness. Though more horizontal when compared to traditional command and control leadership, distributed organizing often relies on a central coordination group to launch the network and to drive it towards common goals and milestones. When done properly, it can help a movement or campaign scale rapidly and channel huge amounts of collective power.

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Persuasive conversation campaigns

Persuasive conversations, also known as values-based conversations, are exchanges between advocates and their peers or members of the public that surface personal attitudes and perceptions around social issues to shift existing positions or at least open people to a new perspective. These conversations are typically held around polarizing issues — think marriage equality in the United States circa 2008-2015 or Australia more recently — where wider shifts in attitude could result in beneficial policy changes. When organized at scale, persuasive conversation campaigns, also known as “deep canvassing,” deliberately catalyze as many conversations as possible to achieve impact at a level that could influence voting. Such campaigns call on large numbers of supporters to carry out conversations either with their own peer contacts or pre-selected sections of the general public. This is carried out either through door-to-door canvassing or through organized phone or digital communications drives.

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Support and coaching techniques for remote groups

As digital group-work tools make it easier to coordinate teams at a distance, campaigns that access them can now scale rapidly and build collective impact through distributed organizing (see our guide on this for more). One of the challenges of this kind of organizing is that the lack of face time and direct human contact can lead to engagement and morale drop off. Several groups that have sparked remote teams and chapters have now developed ways to support these groups at a distance and maintain a sense of purpose and togetherness with their supporters no matter where they are.

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Texting campaigns

Peer to peer texting is a method for contacting your base via text messages to deliver calls to action. Usually done at high volumes, it requires a P2P texting platform and a group of staff or volunteers to deploy the campaign. (True person to person texting, ie. texting one’s own contacts using your personal device as part of a campaign, would fall under the heading “phone/text banking” and will be treated in a separate how-to).

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Using Facebook Groups for organizing

While Facebook has come under a lot of criticism lately for its leaking of user data and its complicity in right-wing voter persuasion, dissemination of fake news… and the list goes on… it remains a social network that large segments of the population use daily and therefore cannot be dismissed as an organizing tool. For groups needing to reach out and build their base and mobilize people to come out to events, Facebook remains an important part of an organizer’s toolkit. Given that the conventional ways that organizations have used Facebook to reach out (through a Facebook Page), are generating diminishing reach (since Facebook changed its algorithm), it’s important to explore how groups are making tactical use of the network through the platform’s Groups option.

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Volunteer-led phone banking

Volunteer-led phone banking uses campaign volunteers to reach out to voters and supporters through phone calls and is now most often supported by software that helps dispatch calls among volunteers and log progress. Phone banking is effective for supporter identification, voter persuasion, event invites, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts.

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WhatsApp uses for campaigning

WhatsApp is a mobile application used for one-to-one, group, or broadcast messaging. It is free, encrypted end-to-end, and is one of the most widely used mobile apps in the world, with over 4.93 billion active users in 2018. In advocacy and movement building, WhatsApp can be used for communication between campaigners, a platform for supporter community building, a way to activate distributed networks and a channel for crowdsourced knowledge. 

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