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Prepping volunteers for a phone bank
Prepping volunteers for a phone bank

Setting up a phone bank run by volunteers and staffers can be a vital tool for getting your community to take action.

Updated over a week ago

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Setting up a phone bank run by volunteers and staffers can be a vital tool for getting your community to take action. Whether it’s a follow-up to direct mail, a fundraising drive, or a GOTV operation, a phone bank can help you connect to your community using genuine 1-on-1 conversations. This guide will walk you through the setup process to ensure your phone bank runs as smoothly as possible!

Step 1: Determine your goal

The first step in setting up a phone bank is determining your goal: who do you want to call and what do you want them to do? Are you calling the recent recipients of an important fundraising email to remind them to give? Are you calling warm prospects from a voter file as part of a GOTV operation? No matter your goal, make sure you have a clear ask and are targeting the right people for that ask. Determining this will allow you to create lists of people whom you want to target with your phone bank.

Step 2: Use tags to organize volunteers

Now that your goal is set, you need to determine who will staff the phones. You can filter your database for volunteers who have offered to help with phone banks. Then, you can contact these people directly to make the ask.

If you don’t have enough volunteers, you can set up a new action page to recruit new volunteers for the phone bank. Set a volunteer role to “phone banker,” and then send out an email or social media update to ask your community to volunteer.

To begin, go to Website > New Page.

1. Give your page a name, such as "Volunteer" or "Join the Team." The slug for the page will auto-populate based on the name, but can be changed.

2. Select Volunteer signup as the type of page you’d like to create.

3. Decide whether to include the page in the top nav or supporter nav.

4. Click the Create Page button.

When you create a volunteer signup page, you will be taken to the Volunteer Settings > Basics page.

Defining the volunteer settings

When people are taking action on your site, you can give them the option to express interest in volunteering. Those people will be directed to the site’s primary volunteer page to provide more info.

By default, the first volunteer signup page you create will be your site’s primary volunteer page. At the top of the Volunteer Settings > Basics page is a statement that allows you to change this designation if you choose.

Defining specific roles people can volunteer for

While it can be useful to have a general pool of volunteers, it can be even more useful to have people volunteer for specific activities your organization needs help with. In this case, you'll want to set up a "phone banker" role.

Go to your Volunteer page > Volunteer Settings > Roles to define specific roles.

Your potential volunteers will see checkboxes for each volunteer role. A person can sign up for more than one role using this form. It may make sense to begin every role description with “Yes, I will [insert action].” So, for example, "Yes, I will help make phone calls."

Next, you define the tag or tags to add to a person’s profile when they sign up for the role. A good tag for the above role would be “volunteer - phone banker.” A person's tag can include multiple words. To add more than one tag to a person’s profile, separate them with a comma.

You will need to define the role and tags to add to the person signing up to save a particular role. Once you have defined both, click the Add volunteer role button.

Publish your page so that its live on your website and people can sign up to volunteer!

Step 3: Create your call lists

Now its time to create your phone bank universe. To do so, go to the People section and turn on Filters.

1. Click on Add criteria. Add search criteria like "Voting History," "Contacted," and if "Any phone number" exists. 

2. Press Filter

3. Once filtered, you'll want to add these people to a master list, click on Actions > Add all to list... 

4. At the bottom of the menu, click Create. Give your list a name. For example, I've named my master list "Phone bank-Mar," so its easy to find. Click Create. Once you click create, all of the people you searched for will be added to the list.

You can complete this same workflow with different search criteria as many times as you wish, then add the people you find to your master list. You will split this list between your phone bankers in the next step.

Step 4: Splitting lists between phone bankers

Once you’ve created a list of people you want to call, you can split your call list into the number of phone bank volunteers you have. Then, give each phone banker control panel access (make sure to give them appropriate permission settings so they cannot alter other parts of your nation). Once you complete this process for each volunteer, your phone bankers can sign in to the control panel and pull up the list assigned to them. Be careful not to share the same list with more than one volunteer, or an entire permission set, to avoid multiple calls to the same people.

To start, go to People > Lists. Select a list from the dropdown by clicking on edit next to the name of the list when highlighted. 

Once you have selected a list, click on Split

1. Split By: In this case, you should split by households to ensure your volunteers don't end up calling the same home number twice for two separate voters.

2. You may segment the list either by percentages or by equal parts. Enter the correct percentage amounts or equal parts.

3. Click Start split to begin the split. It may take a few minutes depending on the size of your list. 

When the split is completed you will see links to the separate lists next to a count of how many people are in each list. Please note that the people in your original list will be randomly divided only the first time you split the list. Subsequently, every time you split the original list it will split in the same pattern as before.

You can open a list by clicking on the blue names of the newly split lists, or you can locate them at any time under People > Lists.

Once this is done, navigate to the list you wish to assign by clicking edit on the List dropdown menu. Then, click on Settings. Here, you can specify who to share the list with, how to describe the list, and whether or not somebody can change the list. Even if you do not select “let people you share this list with change it,” the control panel user will still be able to log contacts.

Step 5 (Workflow option 1): Using call view in your nation

If your volunteers have restricted control panel access, assign each sub-list to the responsible volunteer (so they can see everyone on it). Phone bankers can call people straight from the control panel by going to People > Lists > and clicking on edit button next to the list they want to open. They can access call view by clicking on [#] people > Call view

As phone bankers make calls, they can enter the data directly into each person’s profile. After each call, the callee will automatically be removed from the list and the volunteer will be taken to the next person on their list.

Step 5 (Workflow option 2): Create and print call sheets 

If you'd rather not give volunteers access to your nation, you can create/print call sheets. To do so, access the list(s) you created in step 2 by going to People > Lists > select the edit button next to the list you'd like to create a walk sheet for. Go to Print sheets > Stock themes.

1. Decide on a theme (more on these under 'List description' below) and click Use this theme - it will then say "Currently active".

2. Click Download sheet.

3. Click the Generate sheet button. Two things will happen immediately. A system message will display at the bottom of the control panel:

All previously generated sheets will appear below the Generate sheet button. Refresh the page.

4. Click on the Download button to download your sheets. Print directly from your browser or download to PDF. 

List description

You can create a cover sheet, script, or other introductory information for the sheets. Go to Settings within your list and enter this information in the "List description" field. Be sure to click the Save button to save your changes.

There are public themes for call sheets and walk sheets as described below.

  • Voter ID call sheet: Name, phone numbers, age, party, sex, demo

  • Fundraising call sheet: Name, employer, occupation, phone numbers, tags, notes, contact history, donation history, goal, and maximum possible donation

  • Walk sheet: Name, address, party, age, sex, demo, and support level.

  • Walk sheet (split odd/even): Name, address, party, age, sex, demo, and support level.

  • Walk sheet with phone: Name, address, phone number, party, age, sex, demo, and support level.

  • Walk sheet with phone (split odd/even): Name, address, phone number, party, age, sex, demo, and support level.

  • Donor walk sheet: Name, address, total donated, # of donations, avg amount, last donation amount/date.

  • Donor walk sheet (split odd/even): Name, address, total donated, # of donations, avg amount, last donation amount/date.

  • Donor walk sheet with contact history: Name, address, last contacted by/at, last donation amount/date.
    Donor walk sheet with contact history (split odd/even): Name, address, last contacted by/at, last donation amount/date.

When walking a block, it can be useful to split addresses between odd and even numbers to allow canvassers to stay on one side of the street before connecting with people on the opposite side. Creating that split is the only difference between similarly named themes.

You can also use scannable sheet themes:

  • Scannable walk sheet: Name, address, party, phone, age, demo, and survey questions.

  • Scannable walk sheet (split odd / even): Name, address, party, phone, age, demo, and survey questions.

  • Scannable call sheet: Name, address, party, phone, age, demo, and survey questions.

Learn more about how to use scannable sheets.

Once the phone bank is over, a control panel user with access to the list can enter the data using data entry view. 

Following this will make your phone bank simple and easy to run, allowing you to maximize your time making connections with your community!


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