Fair Share Action works to elect political candidates who advocate for working families at every level of government. With six weeks to go before the 2020 election, they teamed up with Colorado Fair Share to turn out voters through a volunteer mobilization operation on Action Builder, an organizing tool built with organizers for organizers to facilitate the tried-and-true tactics — from assessments to wall charts — that organizers have used for centuries to build power.
The 2020 GOTV program was built on Fair Share Action’s 12-year history of combining strategic communications and grassroots action to influence the ballot box. The organization’s efforts to engage neighbors and encourage voters to have their voice heard was instrumental in the highly polarized 2020 election.
The key to success was ensuring a personal message to each voter. After identifying volunteers to turn out their neighbors to vote in key legislative districts across the state of Colorado, the Fair Share Action team had just three days to get set up on Action Builder — in their words, they were “building the plane as they were flying it”. The process began with uploading voter information and then training people of all different technical aptitudes on the tool.
“If it’s a neighbor that says ‘get out and vote for this candidate’, that makes a huge difference.”
“As we got closer to Election Day, this is where Action Builder came in to actually ask, ‘Where do volunteers live?’,” explained Maureen Kirk, Treasurer of Fair Share Action. “So then we could give volunteers a small subset of the list through Action Builder for them to then call those voters over the course of the subsequent weeks or days, or however long we had until Election Day.”
Fair Share Action combined their organizing work with mail, phone banking, and digital turn out strategies.
The team landed on Action Builder because they believed the toolset provides the “best volunteer experience in terms of feeling like [volunteers] had ownership in their local area.” In previous years this campaign might have looked different, with volunteers knocking on their neighbor’s doors. In the middle of a pandemic, it was important for Fair Share Action to choose a tool that “would provide what we thought would be the best remote, volunteer experience.”
Another reason Fair Share Action chose Action Builder was because of the similarities in structure to their own organization.
“I think the structure of [Action Builder] in terms of the different user types matching up with our structure was a big reason why we were able to roll it out so quickly,” Maureen continued. In the race against time, it was important for Fair Share Action to be able to complete the work efficiently while having several different user tiers.
“We wanted a tier for the actual volunteers themselves, but then we wanted a tier for the organizers,” she explained. According to Maureen, organizers on the Fair Share Action team benefited from “a bird’s eye view of what teams were doing well and what teams needed more help and more capacity.”
Each volunteer was responsible for calling their neighbor and tracking the progress and results of each conversation. They were assigned tasks in Action Builder, and, using Assessments, volunteers would identify who had pledged to vote, who had already voted, and who had been confirmed by the Colorado Secretary of State that they had voted. It was very important for volunteers and Fair Share Action to have the capacity to follow up with neighbors and give continuity to their work.
“If it’s a neighbor that says ‘get out and vote for this candidate’, that makes a huge difference,” Maureen explained. “I think if we did a similar project in a similar way, in 2022 or 2024, Action Builder would be our first pick.”
In a record breaking election during a pandemic, furthering progressive values and building the foundation of a lasting organization at every step of the GOTV process was essential. By creating a network of volunteers, Fair Share Action ensured every voter in the area was engaged with a personal message from a neighbor or a friend, and that mobilization made the difference. As a result of this hard work, 18 of the 21 candidates Fair Share Action supported in Colorado won their races, building a foundation to fight for forward-looking policies for years to come.
Congratulations to everyone at Fair Share Action and Colorado Fair Share on their successful campaign! And thank you for taking the time to tell us about this important work. You can read more about Fair Share Action here: fairshareaction.org.
Learn more about Action Builder at ActionBuilder.org, and check out a live weekly demo to see how Action Builder can power your organizing work. RSVP here.
Mobilizing Volunteers to Get Out the Vote was originally published in Powering Progressive Movements on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.