Project Wonderful

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ask An Election Nerd: From Field to Finance

Hello Nancy,

I am writing because I was wondering if you had advice for folks who were looking to make the jump from field to fundraising. I've used NGP before, and I'm having a finance friend of mine teach me the in's and out's of the program again. I have a lot of friends in campaigns, and I think that I could make the transition. I've always been fascinated by fundraising, I enjoy planning events, and I love working with and meeting new people. I know that field offers the same opportunities on some level, but I'm thinking long term. I love it, but 80 hours a week is too much at this point. I like to work a lot, but I'm 25 and I want to see what life has to offer outside of work too.

Any suggestions?

Honestly? No. The one time I put the Nance in fi-nance it was on a very backwards campaign and I sort of just fell into it. Luckily, I am a huge proponent of delegating and I have an entire network at my disposal! Tumblr followers, remember when I said I know your bosses? I wasn't just whistling Dixie. Below are responses from two senior level Democratic operatives who have made the transition from field to finance. Looks like you can kiss your dreams of a shorter work week goodbye. I can tell you, they are both friends of mine and they've both made incredible social sacrifices to the campaign lifestyle, even/especially since moving over to finance.

They've asked to remain anonymous since they are involved in campaigns this cycle. Big thanks to them and I hope you find their advice useful!

Response 1:

First and foremost I would say that moving from field to finance doesn’t mean the 80 hour week goes away, it just means you cannot wear jeans and a t-shirt to work anymore. Like field you’re still hustling but you’re not working towards GOTV. Finance has different deadlines similar to field but the deadlines occur every three months at the end of the quarter with a lot of late night. There are a lot of similarities between field and finance, which a finance person will never truly admit to a field person’s face. Simply put asking for a “vote” is similar to asking for “money.” There’s targeting and research involved and understanding who you’re asking and what you’re asking for is a big part of fundraising.

If you’re serious about moving into fundraising I would recommend looking for a finance assistant or call time manager position on a campaign. These positions are base level but key to any good fundraising operation and you’ll learn a lot in either of these positions. Check the usual list serves and pay close attention to the ones that focus on fundraising (like EMILY’s List). After the election cycle is over I would also recommend attending fundraising trainings that groups like the DCCC, EMILY’s List, and so on offer. It’s a great way to not only network within the finance campaign world but the trainings also offers volumes of information that help create winning campaigns with strong money behind them.

Best of luck from an original field organizer who’s still trying to a have a life outside of work, that’s a goal I think we all strive for.

Response 2:

All of us that have come up through field have all said it, “this is going to be my last phone call.” And some of you may think you need to get out of field so you can leave the office while the sun is still out. I hate to disappoint you, but it only gets tougher.

Field makes you tough and ready for anything, that’s why a vast majority of the better operatives and consultants I know have a field background, but eventually it comes time to move on and try something else. Some readers have asked advice about moving on from field, and to be quite honest some think that leaving field means you can explore opportunities outside of work. I hate to disappoint you, but you work on a campaign you have to make sacrifices.

Finance. You think dealing with volunteers was difficult? Say hello to donors. Finance staff all over the country can tell you stories. Though we do love them because they keep us in a certain luxury we campaign staffers are accustomed to, there are things you are asked to do for donors that you have to do, whereas can simply tell a volunteer no. Oh, and if you think the VAN was trouble, say hello to NGP (or NGP/VAN, or NGP/VAN with Facebook or whatever it is now). NGP is a great database, and they do have great customer service (especially come reporting deadline time), but it has so many bells and whistles sometimes you just don’t know what to do with it.

I've also worked in research. Coming from field, research can be an interesting transition. In field you interact with voters, volunteers, kids, seniors, and every day Americans otherwise known as “folks.” In research, you spend most of your time on a computer reading documents, or in a library reading documents, or in a courthouse reading documents, or sometimes in hostile Republican territory with a camera (always fun times). Research can have kind of a nerdy spy feel to it in that you don’t really interact much with other departments because the stuff you are looking it can be quite damaging (not just to your opponent).

That being said, I love what I have been able to do on campaigns, and I love that field is where I got it all started, and I encourage all the young, upstart organizers to broaden their horizons and try other departments, just don’t think you will be working any less than you did as an organizer.

There you have it, straight from the finance staff's mouth! Thanks again to my friends who took time out of their busy actual-campaign-working schedules to offer us their insight!

Because I Said So...

A friend alerted me to this study and I thought it was a great lesson for volunteer recruitment. The jist: people are way more likely to do something if you follow it with "because" and then a reason. If it's a little favor it doesn't even have to be a good reason.
"Behavioral scientist Ellen Langer and her colleagues decided to put the persuasive power of this word to the test. In one study, Langer arranged for a stranger to approach someone waiting in line to use a photocopier and simply ask, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Faced with this direct request to cut ahead in the line, 60 percent of the people were willing to agree to allow the stranger to go ahead of them. However, when the stranger made the request with a reason (“May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), almost everyone (94 percent) complied. This kind of boost may not seem very surprising. After all, providing a solid reason for the request justifies asking to jump ahead.

Here’s where the study gets really interesting: Langer tested one more version of the request. This time, the stranger also used the word because but followed it with a completely meaningless reason. Specifically, the stranger said, “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” Because you have to make copies? Who doesn’t? You’re certainly not going to use it to sharpen your pencils, are you? Despite the hollowness of the “reason” the stranger provided, it generated nearly the same elevated levels of compliance as when the reason was wholly legitimate (93 percent)...

The requester told a group of participants that she needed to make twenty copies... Besides the longer wait time, anyone who has ever used a copy machine knows the likelihood that the machine will jam seems to rise exponentially with each added page.when the stranger simply made her request without providing a reason or using the word because, only 24 percent complied. And for those who gave a bad reason (“…because I need to make copies”), there was no increase in compliance at all. However, when the larger request was made with a goodreason (“…because I’m in a hurry”), the response rate doubled. Taken together, the results of this study suggest that when the stakes are low, people are more likely to take mental shortcuts. On the other hand, when the stakes are high, people really do take the strength of the requester’s reasoning into consideration when deciding how to respond to the request."

So let's practice:"Would you take a yardsign, because I don't want to deal with them?" Or with a bigger ask, "would you host a house party because Republicans are attacking our access to healthcare?" How will you use "because?"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Only In New York...

New York News | New York Breaking News | NYC Headlines

I debated whether to post about this story at all because of the wonderful young female candidates who are positive role models for girls and are much more deserving of our time and attention. Then I thought that that was a good reason to post about them, but a bad reason not to post about Mindy Meyer the self-proclaimed "Orthodox Jewish Diva" candidate for State Senate.

While there is nothing wrong with liking pink or trying to bring a sorely needed fresh face to the New York State Senate, Meyer's ignorance combined with arrogance makes every part of my Jewish/female/young/politico body cringe. Her website banner boasts (in sparkly diamond print) "I'm Senator and I know it" and also blares the LMFAO song that inspired the slogan. Meyer says,"My campaign manager just spoke to Kim Kardashian's publicist because she's a diva and everything, so they're getting back to me because we're trying to get her endorsement because, you know, she, whatever, my website is literally like her." She also told GoodDay New York that she was "unfamiliar" with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Seriously Mindy? This is why we can't have nice things!! That and the rule of the patriarchy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Everything I Need to Know About Dating I Learned As a Field Organizer

I was recently on the phone with a fellow Political Operative mining him for career advice and catching up on life in general. When the conversation turned to our love lives I remarked, "That's how I am. I either don't care or I care a hundred and crazy makes me great at campaigns and horrible at dating."

I do think there's some truth to that. I can make any event happen, recruit any number of volunteers or raise any amount of money through what is more or less sheer force of will. I set a goal, I make a plan, and I achieve it. The great disappointment of my adult life has been that dating does not work this way. No matter how hard you try, no matter what you do or say, you cannot organize your way to finding your soul mate. From what I understand, these things tend to happen when you're not trying at all, which can be maddening to the organizing mind.

Reflecting on my latest romantic misadventures, I realized I’m learning the same lessons I learned years ago as an organizer, only this time in my personal life. I’ve often written here as if campaigns were my primary romantic interest and I have to own that it’s easier that way. When it comes to campaigns, I know what I’m doing. Although, walk lists are notoriously bad kissers.

I’m always hesitant when I post something so personal. Curse words and innuendo notwithstanding, this is a professional blog. God knows who could be reading this. However, as my blog becomes more popular, I endeavor for this to be first and foremost a resource that I wish someone had created for me. Plus, I like rules, and like all advice columnists before me this is as much about figuring my own stuff out as it is helping anyone else. So without further ado, seven things I know about field organizing that I am still learning about relationships:

1) It's a numbers game. When you have a string of crappy phone calls, it is tempting to give up, call it a night and pour yourself a beer. Instead, you double down on your recruitment efforts because you know you’ll have to make that many more phone calls to meet your goal. When I think about my very deserving single friends, one of the main barriers to their romantic success is that they don’t meet new people. It becomes increasingly difficult and frustrating to make new friends after college, and I’m certainly finding that life in the big city doesn’t forge the same bonds as 14 hours workdays in the wilderness. Campaign people know better than anyone just how mind numbingly average the average person can be. Getting out there, even non-romantically, can be frustrating and draining. It’s tempting to spend your evenings on your own or with people you already know you like and who like you, but you’re certainly not going to meet anyone sitting alone on your couch.

2) If they're not going to vote for you because you called them during dinner, they weren't going to vote for you in the first place. When a relationship doesn’t go my way, I almost want it to be my fault. I want to be able to pinpoint exactly what I said or did to shoot myself in the foot so that I can be sure not to make that same mistake again. The flip side is that it can leave me replaying conversations over and over in my head wondering what I could have done differently. In both relationships and campaigns, outside of violence and affairs, if things were going to work out there is no one action that will mess the whole thing up. It’s convenient when we’re breaking up for both parties to have a concrete excuse as to why it didn’t work…it absolves the breaker of blame and it gives the breakee a sense of closure. The truth is, if someone was going to be there for you, they would be there regardless of the grammar you used in your text message or the way you asked them to call you again.

3) Make your expectations clear. Every good organizer knows that if you want your volunteers to finish their packets, you need to set goals. “Most people do about 80 calls per shift” or “It’s important that you finish your packet.” Sure, volunteers may or may not live up to your expectations, but they are a lot more likely to disappoint if they don’t know what you need from them ahead of time. The same goes for relationships. I’m never afraid of coming off as needy or demanding by stating my expectations in a professional context, yet I crumble when it comes to my personal life. We’re so afraid of being rejected that we don't ask for what we want and in the end we end up living with both the fear and the disappointment. As one of my friends pointed out recently, needy isn’t saying “If you’re going to be late, it would make me feel better if you called me” needy is not telling someone what you need and then getting angry when he doesn’t do it.

4) Think about what you have to offer. When we’re recruiting volunteers we want them to come in and help us meet our goals, but (except in the cases of very special volunteers) we don’t call someone up and say “Hi, I need you to help me with my job.” We focus on what we have to offer them, whether it be the excitement of a campaign office, an internship opportunity, or the feeling of fulfillment one gets from being part of a greater effort. Though I’m not suggesting you need to market yourself to your future someone, I have learned that it’s best to focus on how you can enrich each other, rather than how that someone can fill a need in your life. As Bob Proctor, puts it “you want to leave everyone you come in contact with with the impression of increase.” As a friend put it, “we spend all this time looking for someone to complete us, but ultimately when we find someone we wind up completing them.” It turns out all the cliché advice that you need to love yourself before you can love someone else and that you’ll only find someone when you’re comfortable being alone is true. (See also, rule number 7.)

5) People are selfish liars. It’s not necessarily bad, so much as it’s just true. People act in their own self-interest and do not often think about how their actions impact other people. This is one of the basic truths you learn about humanity in the course of being a field organizer. Volunteers make a commitment and decide not to show. I have to say this drives me crazy even in a professional setting. I’ve listened to this song on repeat after many a disappointing canvass. My personal pet peeve is people wasting my time. Maybe they forgot, maybe they had something more appealing to do, or maybe they just said yes to get you off the phone. I guarantee you they don’t consider the time you spent the night before cutting turf and map-questing directions so that they could have a walk packet. When a someone stops calling or a boyfriend breaks a promise, we have a tendency to feel tricked. Our first (and oft recurring) thought is “how could they do this to me?” The truth is, they probably weren’t even thinking about you. Maybe they became overwhelmed at work, maybe they just weren’t feeling it anymore, maybe they had something else going on entirely. Very rarely is someone engaging in an evil plot to break your heart just for the fun of it. Like volunteers, you make your expectations clear but in the end you have to accept that people can only give what they are capable of at any given point in time.

6) Learn from failures, predict success. Sometimes (and you won’t hear me admit this often) I do make mistakes…like failing to follow rules 3 and 4 or printing out a walk packet with the wrong script on it. Part of the Type A, pitta, field organizing personality is that I tend to be my own worst critic, which I suppose also makes me guilty of breaking rule number 2. It’s natural to beat ourselves up, especially when we care passionately about something, but it’s so much easier for me to forgive myself at work than in my personal life. I’ve never sent my field team the wrong list, snapped at an organizer or for that matter lost and thought “I ruined the campaign!!!” or “I’ll never have a shot at winning a campaign again.” In the first place, it’s ridiculous and in the second place, it’s not productive. I think “that was a mistake and I’m embarrassed” then I do what I can to rectify it and vow to use better judgment next time. I can tell you in my ripe old age of 27 that even when you think you should know better, it doesn’t mean you do. Sometimes you need to shock your system into knowing emotionally or instinctively what you already knew intellectually. And then you learn it, and then you move on. As Oprah says “when you know better, you do better.” Rather than dwell on the past, better to learn from it and move confidently into the future.

7) Wisdom is wisdom for a reason. I get a lot of messages on my tumblr about baby organizers trying to reinvent the wheel. “Sure I’ve only been doing this for five years but you tell me how to recruit volunteers/raise money/build for an event.” Classic methods like calltime are classic because they work, even if they’re a tough pill to swallow. I’m a big believer that asking for advice when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness. People who know are more than willing to share. Heck, I’ve made a blog out of it. In my ongoing quest to become a non-campaign-nomadic adult, I’ve become insatiably hungry for advice. Sure there’s a lot of crappy and conflicting advice out there when it comes to dating, but the basics “you need to love yourself first,” “it always happens when you’re not looking,” “the right one won’t make you cry” always seem to rear their ugly heads…I just might not want to hear them at the time. I’ve come to realize that that’s exactly when I need to hear them the most.

Obviously, there are some key differences between dating and volunteer recruitment. I’m not suggesting that you phone bank someone until they fall madly in love with you. When it comes to recruitment the goal is to get as many volunteers as possible, quality is nice but it’s not a prerequisite. When it comes to love exactly the opposite is true. However, if we release ourselves from the clawing suspicion that we have one chance and we blew it, the way we do at work, we free ourselves to accept our limitations and ultimately be more resilient.

There you have it! Who thinks I could be the Carrie Bradshaw of field organizing?

Hoping to leave you with the impression of increase,


Friday, July 20, 2012

Fun with Electoral Maps!

Wanna see which states are considered swing states? How about how many different combinations Democrats could win with in the fall? 270 to Win has every possible combination of electoral outcome you could want to see. Check it out!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ask An Election Nerd: Queen Bee Syndrome

Got this one in my email:

Have you ever encountered queen bee syndrome on a campaign? If so, how have you combated it? It isn't something I've had to deal with yet, but I've heard horror stories from friends.


Yes. It took me a long time to answer this one because I don't think I handled it super well. Queen Bee Syndrome for those of you who don't know "describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female."

I'm going to preface this with a disclaimer that I have some pretty gender normative things to say when it comes to field organizing (my campaign roots) and the sexes.
Can women be tough ass bitches? Absolutely. I like to fancy myself one, but nature or nurture or some combination of the two have trained us by and large to have different skills, desires, and emotional patterns than men and those can be heightened in times of extreme emotional pressure.

Because talented women are harder to come by in politics, and field organizing requires a lifestyle not conducive to traditional feminine roles (lots of scrapiness, bawdiness, pushiness...all of which we may excel at but don't make us feel particularly ladylike) there is no prescription for how to be a woman on a campaign. Let me be clear that I totally blame men/society for this, but it doesn't make it less true. Some women try to act like total bros and just be one of the boys. Some women go in the opposite direction, become uptight, and wind up alienating their coworkers. It doesn't help that everybody is sleeping with everybody. I think "Queen Bee Syndrome" sometimes arises because women wind up resenting each other for trying to be a woman on a campaign differently, as if one's choices are in tacit judgement of another's (again, society's fault but our problem.) In addition, for the reasons listed above, women on campaigns are under an extreme amount of scrutiny and pressure which makes it a even more difficult to cope with the already stressful environment. These unique pressures, by the way, are why it is so important for female bosses to mentor and encourage baby female organizers.

I kind of tried to be all of these "kinds" of women (bro, high strung, feminine...) and so wound up succeeding at none of them. (Sidenote: One of the funniest things my exboyfriend ever said to me: "Can you stop calling me by my last name? It would make me feel more like we're dating and less like we're in the Marines.") I was an organizer on a campaign with all female leadership (my State Director, my Field Director and my Regional) and all male coworkers in my region. My discomfort with being on my second campaign, which was run differently from the first one, and the isolation of being the only one in my office for a long time made me kind of drop my basket. I wound up being extremely defensive and clashing with my boss, the only other woman with whom I had daily contact. I felt that I was held to a different standard than my coworkers and expected to act differently. I am sure there would have been some friction between us anyway, but I have no doubt that gender played a role.

What I wish I had done is empathize with this other woman and make a greater effort to find some common ground. I was so focused on how "unfair" she was to me, I didn't consider how unfair it was to us. This may sound trite but I really think opening up a dialogue about what it's like to be a woman in this world would have greatly strengthened our relationship. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I had taken her out for coffee or proposed a girls night early on. She must have been feeling the same pressure as I did, yet it never occurred to me to ask her how she felt about managing an almost entirely male staff or if she ever felt like she faced different challenges than her male peers. What a relief it would have been to both of us to have someone with whom to discuss that pressure. We definitely still would have bumped heads, but I think it would have felt less personally motivated. As Mother Teresa said "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

There you go! Advice I hope you never have to use.

Love, Woman Power, and Call Sheets,


What Has Two Thumbs, Ruined Our Economy and Can't Vote in Texas?

This guy.

Okay, not really.
"Attorneys for Texas on Thursday cited the appearance of former President George W. Bush’s name on a list of Texas residents who would supposedly be ineligible to vote in the state under a law requiring voters to show photo identification as evidence a Harvard University study of the measure was deeply flawed."
But still, that's kind of hilarious. More on the case in Texas coming soon.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Voter Contact Formulas

Putting together a GOTV plan the other day, it occurred to me that there should really be a one sheet with all the formulas to figure out how many resources you need to execute a field plan. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I googled and found the following from Wellstone Action and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. Unfortunately I can't find the link to the original document. You can feel free to disagree with the math a little, but I think most of these are pretty spot on.

Volunteer Voter Contact Formulas

The following formulas for voter contact are averages and assume all volunteer labor. The numbers in bold are for budgeting purposes; the actual number may vary depending on a number of factors – you should adjust your own budgeting accordingly.

Door to Door Canvassing
• Door-to-door canvassing — assuming every door is knocked – or a very dense walk list: average 25 doors per hour; 6 contacts (5-8 contacts) per hour
• Door-to-door canvassing – assuming a walk list or more suburban district with less density: average 15 doors per hour; 4 contacts (3-6 contacts) per hour

Phone canvassing – Non Predictive Dialing

• Phone IDs — straight ID, no persuasion: average 35 dials per hour; 10 contacts (7-14 contacts) per hour depending on length of script (assuming non-predictive dialing)
o Normal 3 hour calling shift to calculate number of lines needed
o Normal 5 days per week (unless other reasons)
o Calling through the list 4x you can expect on average to reach about 45-50% of the people. One call through you can expect about 25-30%.
o To calculate number of dials for repeated calls through the list multiply the original list number by the following factors: 3x call though = 2.25 – 4x call through = 2.5
• Phone Persuasion — average 25 dials per hour; 7 contacts (5-11 contacts) per hour depending on length of script (assuming non-predictive dialing)
• GOTV calling — average 30 dials per hour; 10 contacts per hour, assuming no message.

Phone canvassing – Predictive Dialing

• Phone IDs —average 110 dials per hour; 45 contacts (assuming less than one minute script) per hour
o To calculate number of dials for repeated calls through the list multiply the original list number by the following factors: 3x call though = 2.25 – 4x call through = 2.5 (e.g. to call through a 1,000 name list 3x = 2,250 dials, assuming bad numbers and contacts are removed after each dial through.)
• Phone Persuasion — average 90 dials per hour; 20 contacts (assuming an average 2.5 minute conversation) per hour
• GOTV calling — average 100 dials per hour; 25 contacts per hour (assuming a 2 minute interactive conversation), assuming no message.

Dropping Literature
• Dropping literature — average 50 houses (30 – 70 houses) per person/per hour shift, depending on turf

Volunteer Recruitment

• Volunteer Recruitment calling — average 30 dials per hour; 10 contacts and 3-5 volunteers per hour depending on list and task (e.g. canvassing fewer, Persuasion calling fewer, ID calling more, GOTV calling more, dropping literature still more.

Voter Contact Formulas — Doing the Math

Persuasion Phone Calls: Assume that you are asked to make 5000 persuasion calls in 5 days. You will need 14 volunteers, each working a 3-hour shift and 14 phone lines to call the list one time.
o Assume you do not have a predictive dialer. For volunteer persuasion calls, assume you can make 25 dials per hour/per phone line. Divide to figure out how many hours it will take to make the calls.
5000 attempted contacts ÷ 25 dials per hour = 200 hours
Divide by 5 days (the number of days you have to call)
= 40 calling hours per day

o To figure out how many phone lines, determine how many hours per line you will be calling. If you assume you will have 3 hour shifts, then divide to determine how many lines per day you will need (and how many volunteers per day you will need).
40 calling hours per day ÷ 3 hours per shift = 13.3 shifts (14) per day. You will therefore need 14 phone lines and 14 volunteers per day to make 5000 persuasion calls in 5 days.

o To figure out how many actual contacts you will make, assume a 25% contact rate (based on calling through the list one time). You can expect at the end of five days to have made 1,250 actual contacts.

o To figure out how many names and volunteers you would need to make 5000 contacts do the reverse.
5000 contacts ÷ 50% contact rate (based on calling the list through 4 times) = 10,000 names/numbers to start with

10,000 x 2.5 (the factor for the number of dials to call though 4x) = 25,000 dials.
25,000 ÷ 25 = 1000 hours
= 200 calling hours per day
= 67 shifts and volunteers

o To figure out how long it would take to call one time through the list of 5,000 names using a predictive dialer.
5000 attempted contacts ÷ 90 dials per hour = 56 hours
= 11 calling hours per day
= 4 stations and volunteer shifts

To figure out how to make 5,000 contacts using a predictive dialer.
5000 contacts ÷ 20 contacts per hour = 250 calling hours
= 50 hours per day
= 14 shifts per day

Door-to-Door Canvassing. Assume that you are asked to knock 3600 households of targeted voters in a dense urban district (although not every house will be knocked). You want to know how many volunteers you will need to knock it in ten days. To knock this number of houses in 10 days you will need 5 volunteers per day for 10 days, each person working a 3 hour shift. You will make approximately 864 contacts.

Start with 3600 households. To calculate how many hours it will take:
3600 HH ÷ 25 doors knocked per hour = 144 hours

To calculate number of volunteers you need to determine how long a shift will be:
144 hours ÷ 3 hour shifts = 48 shifts (or volunteers)
48 shifts (volunteers) ÷ 10 days = 4.8 (5) shifts (volunteers) per day

To calculate the number of contacts:
144 hours x 6 contacts per hour = 864 contacts

GOTV Calling. Assume that you are asked to make 3000 GOTV calls on Monday as part of a GOTV effort. You will need 9 lines and 34 volunteers calling in 3 hour shifts over 12 hours.

For calculation purposes, assume that you will contact all 3000 with a message or direct contact (since they have already been contacted in some way).
3000 GOTV calls ÷ 30 calls per hour = 100 hours calling hours

Assume that you will be calling Monday 9 am - 9pm = 12 hours. To determine how many phone lines are needed, divide the total number of calling hours needed to complete the calls by the total number of hours available to make the calls.
100 hours calling hours needed ÷ 12 hours total to call = 8.5 (9) lines

To determine the number of volunteers needed:
100 calling hours ÷ 3 hours shifts = 33.3 (34) volunteer shifts

This means that not every phone line has to be filled at every moment, but that a full 33 shifts need to be filled over the 12 hour day.

What other formulas should we share? What do you think of these?


Volunteer Upkeep: Damn, I'm Good. Part III

Are you guys sad that this is the final part of my three part treatise? Me too. It is the smallest piece, but by no means the least important!

Volunteer Upkeep
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization”

Training Doesn’t End after Vols have been Trained

•Check In with your volunteer after 10 mins and every ½ hour after that. Thank them every time (do you notice a theme?) Ask how the calls are going and if they have any questions. Casually listen in on calls and see if there is something you can encourage or that needs to be nipped in the bud. Ensure that the volunteer is coding the responses appropriately.

•Know your volunteers. A good volunteer coordinator and organizer knows their volunteers. They know their name, face and story. It is critical that the organization develops a close relationship with volunteers.

•Praise in public, correct in private. Reinforce positive behavior by thanking volunteers in front of everyone. “Doris you’re a rockstar! Thanks for pushing it up to 100 calls.” Correct mistakes constructively, with encouragement and one on one. “Sandy, you’re doing such a good job and you obviously know your stuff. Hey, do me a favor and don’t worry about arguing with McCain supporters. It drives me nuts too, but we have so many calls to get through, why waste our time on people we cn’t convince? Awesome job so far..”

•Team Cohension. Make your volunteers feel a part of the team. Do not put a volunteer in a room alone. Introduce volunteers to other volunteers. Organizers should take 2-5 minutes out of their calltime to visit with the volunteers and thank the volunteers.

Check Out
•Debrief. Ask how the calls went and if any issues you came up that you should know about. Ask if there were any particular calls you need to know about (someone who wants to volunteer or wants to vote by mail.)

•Look it over. Quickly go through your volunteers’ tallies and call sheets BEFORE they leave. The last thing you want it to be stuck with a pile of data you can’t decipher.

•Reschedule. Ask every volunteer who comes in when they can come back. Get them to commit to as much as possible in person. “This was great. Can you come every Thursday?” If they can’t reschedule right then, at the very least schedule a time to reschedule. “Okay then. I’ll call you on Monday when you’ll have a better sense of what your week looks like”. No volunteer should leave the office without being rescheduled.

•Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.
Thank You. Two little words, you can never underestimate their importance.