PLANNING AN EVENT
A successful event combines four elements:
Venue: Do you want to host a house party, or lead at a public venue? We keep a list of suggested cafes, libraries, etc., or you can find one on your own.
Hosts/leads: Small house parties may need only one host, but larger parties and public venues usually need at least two people to lead.
Volunteers: Captains will publicize events to volunteers via our mailing list, on our Facebook page, and on the Events page on our website, and share with other organizations. Hosts & leads should share with their own networks and other groups via Facebook, Meetup, email, and the water cooler.
Tools (printables): Captains will provide instruction sheets and contact lists for postcarding and phonebanking. You can print flyers, fact sheets, candidate dossiers, sign-up sheets, contribution forms, and more from our Host Resources page.
Tools (supplies): For postcarding, hosts should provide postcards, stamps, and pens. For phonebanks, volunteers will need their own laptop/tablet and phone.
Checklists: Use this sheet of checklists for supplies and tasks.
Sign-in: Make everyone sign-in! Set up a registration table at the door with a sign-in sheet, so it happens as soon as they arrive. Use a printed RSVP list or a blank sign-up sheet.
Orientation: Give brief orientation about the tasks to be done, then get those people who are ready to go started immediately. Give a little more training to anyone who needs it. For some guests, this will be their first event, while others will have been to many.
In-kind donations: Anyone who helps pay for postcards or stamps (for candidate campaigns, not for civic engagement projects), including your guests, should complete an in-kind donation form, to make sure we comply with campaign finance laws.
Show video: We have a page of videos you can show at your event to make it more informative and entertaining.
Capture memories: Take photos of volunteers in action, to post on social media and our website! It will help inspire even more people to act. Even better, take video of enthusiastic volunteers talking about what they’re doing. Important: Be sure to always ask for permission to share photos and video online.
Delegate small tasks: Ask other volunteers or organizers to be in charge of specific tasks like signing-in, taking photos/video, asking for donations, etc.
Identify potential organizers: Keep your eye out for especially helpful or enthusiastic volunteers, and ask them to think about hosting or leading themselves!
Food: If you’re hosting a house party, light snacks and beverages are sufficient. Sister District volunteers are highly motivated and focused, so no need to go overboard!
Laptop/tablet: When using a web-based calling app like CallHub, VPB, or CallFire, everyone needs one! Remind guests in advance to bring theirs. Earbuds or headphones are helpful too.
Scripts: The phonebanking instructions often have scripts you can print out. Sometimes they provide more in-depth talking points than the interactive script, and sometimes they’re just good to have handy for guests who like to have a paper in front of them.
Background: Provide background info on the candidate so volunteers can read up prior to making calls and if possible print a copy of the script just before the event.
Get connected: Guests will need your wi-fi network name and password. Post this information prominently or print slips of paper to leave at calling stations.
Sign-up: Web-based calling apps often require accounts. You can walk volunteers through sign-up at your event, but if possible ask them to sign-up in advance.
Tech check: If using a web-based call app, login to the system and make sure it’s working, an hour or so before your event begins. These systems can be finicky. If there’s a problem, the calling instructions contain contact info for the campaign and SDP support.
Talking tips: Remind guests to be friendly, polite, and enthusiastic. They are representing the campaign. Do not argue! Do not engage! Listen politely. And NEVER leave voicemails, unless the calling instructions explicitly say so.
Demo: New phonebankers are often anxious before making their first set of calls. It might be helpful to demonstrate an actual call for your guests or partner up for the night and take turns making calls.
Training: Read SDP’s phonebanking best practices. Listen to SDP’s co-founder Lala Wu’s introduction to phonebanking.
Postcards: These may be provided by captains. If not, here are tips for buying them or making your own.
Packets: Rubber-band packs of cards (10-15) together with instruction sheets & address lists, so there’s one for every volunteer.
Pens: Provide plenty, in black, blue, colors, highlighters.
Be creative: Tell writers to use colors, doodle, and be friendly/enthusiastic . The more eye-catching, the more likely the voter will take a second look.
Sample: Provide an already-written sample card if possible. A sample will get people started faster, and show them them don’t have to write really long messages.
Quality control: Ask volunteers to keep their finished postcards together with their address lists. Afterward, go through all the cards to make sure addresses are correct and they contain all the items required by the instructions. Or, volunteers can trade packs of cards to check each other’s work.
Text msg link: Tell guests to text the word SDPMA or SDMARI to 555-888 for a link to our current contribution page; caps and lowercase both work. (*Best option* — allows guests to login to their own ActBlue accounts automatically).
Laptop or tablet: Open to our current contribution page. (Good option, but not ideal, since guests will have to enter their financial information or login manually to ActBlue).
Check: If guests prefer to contribute by check, make sure they fill out a Check Contribution Form, available on our Host Resources page.
Ask: Suggest a specific amount, like $20.19.
Post on Facebook: Include photos and/or video!
Record attendance and report your actions & donations: Use your event page in our online system. If you used a sign-up sheet for attendance, email or give it to a captain.
Return contact lists: Be sure to provide all unused postcard addresses to a captain, so they can be re-assigned!