Candidates need the right campaign toolkit now more than ever.

Picking the right political campaign tools can be a challenge.

There are a lot of political campaign tools out there, which can be both a good and bad thing.

On the one hand, tools have freed up political candidates and staff time, and on the other, they’ve added to the myriad of stressors that campaign folks encounter.

How many tools do you need to win?

Which tools are winning campaigns using?

How do you get the best bang for your buck?

In response to the many questions campaigns have about campaign tools, over the last four years, The Campaign Workshop has actively updated and curated a list of tools to help progressive campaigns pick the right tool for their campaigns: 100+ Best Campaign Tools List.

Do I Need a Campaign Tool to Win My Election?

Winning campaigns are adaptable campaigns.

As we approach the 2020 general election, campaigns that embrace new social distancing requirements due to COVID-19 will be better off than those who do not.

While volunteers and voters can no longer engage in safe in-person canvassing, there are plenty of political tools out there that can help campaigns continue to effectively engage with their campaign staff and volunteers to build meaningful connections with voters.

Here Are Types of Tools That Can Help Your Campaign

Many of these tools below will keep your campaign moving forward during COVID-19. Some of these tools you might just want to permanently integrate with your campaign strategies!

Fundraising and Budgeting Campaign Tools

Fundraising and budgeting are critical elements of every campaign. Tools that focus on fundraising and budgeting allow you to track your campaign spending all in one place, so you don’t spend more money than you have.

Suggested tools:
CallTime makes fundraising fast and efficient by using automation and artificial intelligence.
Fundhero provides a platform to make asking and managing donations a breeze.

Slate Card

Slate cards are a great way to get the word out about your campaign and to get voters to turn out at the polls or to request a mail-in ballot, especially if you are a down-ballot candidate.

Suggested tool:
BallotReady allows voters to see everyone on the ballot and make an informed decision.

Relational Organizing Campaign Tools

Voters are more likely to be persuaded to do things like vote, donate, or share a post if they’re asked to do so by people they know. Organizing tools can help you leverage the networks of your friends and family by assigning them campaign and voter outreach tasks that they can do even from the comfort of their own home.

Suggested tools:
OutreachCircle allows you to recruit, engage, and activate your supporters all in one place.
Team supports advocacy groups, campaigns, and unions in communicating with their supporters.

SMS and Texting Campaign Tools

Often people don’t answer their phones when they receive a call from an unknown number. SMS and texting tools can help you quickly reach voters when you otherwise would’ve been sent to voicemail. These tools can also be used internally so you can send mass campaign updates to your voters and campaign team on short notice.

Suggested tools:
Hustle is an easy-to-use, secure peer-to-peer texting platform.
NDTC virtual live training on how to use peer-to-peer texting on your campaign.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

List building and maintaining regular communication with voters is important.

A CRM can host the information of all your supporters and the actions they have taken to contribute to your campaign (e.g., given donations, attended a rally). Then, on Election Day, when you win your campaign, you can send out a mass email to thank your voters for their support because you have everyone’s information in one place!

Suggested tools:
Digital 8 by NGP VAN will help you build your digital campaign from the ground up.
Action Network offers email, analytics, petitions, and more to support your progressive campaign.

Canvassing

Canvassing is a critical way political campaigns can reach voters, especially for candidates with little-to-no name recognition and candidates who are running down-ballot races.

However, COVID-19 has made it harder to do traditional door-to-door canvassing safely, resulting in campaigns suspending their canvassing programs all together. While other non canvassing political campaign tools can help with voter engagement, they can’t completely replicate in-person voter outreach.

So, when traditional canvassing makes a comeback, look for canvassing tools that integrate well with your complete set of tools.

For canvassing, you will need a tool that can help you cut turf, keep track of doors that have been knocked, and provide your volunteers with a tailored script to make the most of their conversations with voters. In the meantime, consider using relational organizing tools and ramping up other communication mediums to reach constituents (e.g., phones, direct mail, digital ads, etc.).

Suggested tools:
MiniVAN will help you canvass like a pro.
Grassroots Unwired can, in addition to to canvassing, help with events, labor union member drives, and grassroots and legislative advocacy campaigns.

Finding the Right Tools for the Job

It’s important to have an effective set of tools in your arsenal. While you may not be able to have every tool your heart desires, you’re more likely to be able to get what you want if you assess which resources you will need early in the process.

Keep in mind that some state parties and other groups may be able to get you discounted rates and training on tools to save you time choosing tools and the money needed to purchase them. Additionally, many paid tools are priced in tiers based on the size of your race, making it easier for down-ballot campaigns to run competitive campaigns.

Learn more about how to campaign through COVID-19 during NDTC’s weekly virtual live trainings. Trained facilitators walk you through a range of topics and answer your questions. Register for a virtual live training today!

The Campaign Workshop

Joe is the co-host of the How to Win a Campaign podcast available here. Check out Episode 1 where they chat with Anthony Robinson, NDTC Political Director, about making the decision to run for office.

Twitter: @cmpwrkshp

Instagram: @thecampaignworkshop

Facebook: The Campaign Workshop

Website: www.thecampaignworkshop.com

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July 6, 2020

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Joe Fuld

Joe Fuld is the President of The Campaign Workshop, a political and advocacy advertising agency in Washington D.C. that provides strategy, digital advertising, content and direct mail services to nonprofit and political clients. Joe is the co-host of the How to Win a Campaign podcast available here. Check out Episode 1 where they chat with Anthony Robinson, NDTC Political Director, about making the decision to run for office.