Relational Organizing Tool
Problem it tries to solve:
Empower helps campaigns scale their relational organizing program using proven techniques and improved software. Empower is helping to grow the New American Majority by empowering activists and volunteers to look beyond the voterfile as they grow their base of supporters around issues, campaigns and causes.
A volunteer directly, or indirectly via a field organizer, builds a list of their friends and family either within the app or via paper and pencil. That list is then matched against the voterfile and prioritized based on the campaign’s targeting preferences (including option to prioritize non-matchers). There is an entire workflow built around field organizer usage to support working with volunteers who are uninterested in downloading an app or interacting with tech directly.
Empower works best with at least one field staff to support usage getting to scale.
Does it sync to NGP VAN?
Yes – no sync, one-way sync, and two-way sync with VAN options are available.
Empower is free to use for approved 501(C)(3)s and 501(C)(4)s. They also have grants available to c3s and c4s to cover the cost of a full-time organizer to manage an organization’s program. For political campaigns and organizations, the cost ranges from $250 to $1000 per month depending on size.
“Super Great! Empower is the OG. Working with organizations doing this stuff since 2011, they are the most knowledgeable about the program and how to most effectively maximize your results. The app, both web and mobile applications are great to use and the team involved understands that at the heart of relational organizing is relationships. They know and train the importance of work in the field, and how to build power within communities. They have experience using Relational Organizing in all the aspects of the work, electoral, voter registration, grassroots lobbying, and what’s more, they understand that Relational Organizing is really flexible. They know it will work differently in each organization and within different communities. They can help you build the program that’s right for you.”
“Empower was very straightforward and efficient for managing RVP in an election cycle. The folks who manage the website were very helpful in getting us up to speed on using it, and were prompt with addressing any issues we had. I could also see the website become more efficient in real time, and the tool continues to improve post-election.”
The Basics: Empower is a Relational Organizing tool that works with organizing programs to systematize volunteers mobilizing, persuading, or recruiting their friends in a VAN-data-friendly way. It allows users to connect with friends, family and community members where they are, including in person, by text and through social media.
A user may directly import select phone contacts into the app, uploads a spreadsheet of contacts or, manually enter names, or have a field staff enter paper and pencil lists.
From there, Empower attempts to automatically match them through the voterfile and use targeting information to prioritize the list.
Each month/week, the campaign pushes out new calls to action asking volunteers to contact that list and engage them around that month’s activity.
It has been through multiple election cycles and studied thoroughly by the Analyst Institute 9 different tests. The software has proven it can withstand the rigors of GOTV.
Empower works with most data sets. Contacts can be entered via paper & pencil, manual entry or by connecting the app to an activist’s contacts.
It’s volunteer friendly. The app interface is straightforward and requires no training. The workflow also supports non-tech-friendly volunteers where field organizers can still manage the volunteers and their work.
It can be used on a mobile or desktop device, as well as by paper and pen for the less tech-comfortable activists in your community.
The app is bi-lingual and can be white-label branded for your campaign or organization.
It can communicate through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, text message, email, and WeChat.
The app can be accessed by email or phone number, to lower the barrier to entry for activists in your community who may not have access to email.
It requires an organizing team to implement.
Empower requires some level of manual data entry, recruitment of RVP leaders, and check ins to see if the work is getting done. None of that can be done without organizers working on the ground.
Empower is free to use for approved 501(C)(3)s and 501(C)(4)s. They even have grants available to c3s and c4s to cover the cost of a full-time organizer to manage an organization’s program. For political campaigns and organizations, the cost ranges from $250 to $1000 per month depending on size.
Empower can read lists out of VAN.
Empower can write contact data and survey responses back into VAN.
Who we would recommend this tool to:
IE Programs or unions. Any kind of program or organization that operates during non-election cycle timelines would benefit from building this kind of data infrastructure.
Field organizing based programs with at least one staff to help recruit and manage volunteers using the best practices techniques
Who we wouldn’t recommend this tool to:
Out of State / non-field supported programs. In order to hit meaningful scale, like any volunteer-based program, it takes staff to manage and recruit volunteers in to the program.
Late-cycle startup. Relational organizing takes time to get to scale and most campaigns would want to start at least 2 months before election day to be successful.