Relational Organizing Tool
Problem it tries to solve:
You want a single place to house all of the volunteers, activists, and other interested parties that would like ongoing engagement with your campaign or organization. Having them join your OutreachCircle allows you to have a feed of updates and activities available for when these supporters are ready to take action. Because Relational Organizing programs scale exponentially with the supporter base, OutreachCircle has redesigned their product to make it easy to get all of your supporters on it (eliminating the need for an app, rapid onboarding flow, QR codes, built in flyers, and an invite process). Also based on customer feedback they added a P2P texting function (messages come from your number) to complement the relational offerings.
Supporter Action Hub: One place to capture and have ongoing engagement with all of your supporters. Organizing supporters into groups allows for separate ladders of engagement. Relational Organizing: Amplify your efforts by having supporters to reach out to their friends via text, email or social media. Affinity texting: Kick start your relational efforts, organize neighborhood programs, or follow up with donors and key leaders by assigning (distributing) contacts to be texted from a user’s own phone number.
Scaling this kind of tool requires a lot of volunteer capacity and data support.
Does it sync to NGP VAN?
Yes – read and write.
Free platform available for organizations and campaigns of every size.
All plans (see below for details) include unlimited supporters, admins, emails and text messages.
“OutreachCircle seemed like a tool that would be useful for our team in the beginning phases of the campaign, but it turned out to be unscalable and hard to train volunteers on how to use it effectively. We were also unable to find a smooth transition on how to use the tool during GOTV, and as a result we were really only able to test the tool for short periods of time in small rural areas during the persuasion phase. Using voter circle was inefficient and unproductive for our organization.”
“Pros – no need to DL app to use, decent email delivery, has promise as a platform.
Cons – hard to get adoption, restriction within district hurts.”
“Laborious to set up. It was necessary to hand-hold people to use it and organizers did not have the time to do that in the days before GOTV”
The Basics: OutreachCircle (formerly VoterCircle) is a supporter management, relational organizing and P2P texting platform that enables volunteers, activists and donors to support campaigns and organizations. OutreachCircle’s Supporter Action Hub allows supporters to find all of the ways they can help an organization. Supporters can donate, sign up for events, volunteer, and much more. OutreachCircle’s relational organizing and Affinity texting products make it easy for your supporters to amplify your efforts by getting their friends, neighbors, and colleagues involved as well.
A volunteer joins a OutreachCircle campaign via an online link (no invitation required). From there, they sync their contacts via email, CSV upload, or (mobile-only) phone contact upload. OutreachCircle will then tell them what kind of target each of their contacts is (persuasion, mobilization, registration, etc) and allow them to send an ask to that person based on a campaign template.
Volunteer activity syncs to VAN — which decreases organizer data entry time and allows results to be collected at scale.
OutreachCircle can map relationships, and over time that kind of data infrastructure will be very valuable. Creating this kind of map with cycle after cycle of data would allow relational organizing to work at scale.
If you’re running a program without a large organizing team, you can identify volunteers who have a large number of friends who are supporters and potential volunteers themselves.
A volunteer can send different template asks to a list depending on if a specific contact is a mobilization target, in a particular district, or any set of criteria.
There are some safeguards in place. Volunteers can manually say who isn’t a match to a voter file record, thus decreasing the chances of falsely targeting a voter. Additionally, campaigns have control over outgoing messages. If a volunteer wants to edit the campaign’s template, the campaign will need to manually sign off on it before the message goes out.
Requires supporters to take action, which requires planning and preparation
Except for the VAN integration, integrations with other 3rd party tools are basic and not yet fully built out
The new platform offers a lot of functionality, which can be confusing for new admins to understand and implement effectively
While OutreachCircle does not require users to import their contacts or download an app, many users still believe these are required
Since Affinity texting uses supporters’ own phone numbers, OutreachCircle does not offer the ability to track and record messages like P2P texting providers
Free platform available for organizations and campaigns of every size
All plans include unlimited supporters, admins, emails and text messages.
$30/month Bronze plan: voter file matching up to 50K voters and 1 group
$150/month Silver plan: voter file matching up 150K voters and 5 groups
$300/month Gold plan: voter file matching up 300K voters and 10 groups
$500/month Platinum plan: voter file matching up 500K voters and 25 groups
Enterprise plans for statewide efforts are $500-$5K/month and include 25-500 groups
Enterprise plans for national efforts are typically $10K/month and include unlimited groups
Voter Files/Lists can be imported directly via API
Voters contacted by text or email (open, delivered, bounced) are directly synced to VAN
Survey questions created in VAN can be automatically imported into OutreachCircle
Survey responses are completed by voters and automatically synced with VAN
Who we would recommend this tool to:
Volunteers and Organizers as well as Fundraising, Communications, Digital, Political and Field staff
Programs that are asking their supporters to use multiple tools and would like to integrate them into one interface
Programs that would like to enable their supporters to reach out relationally to their friends and neighbors via text, email or social media
Programs that would like to run highly personalized P2P texting programs with supporters’ own phone numbers; use cases include: member to member contact for unions, quarter end fundraising asks, personal event reminders to VIPs, neighborhood canvassing
Programs that would like to run a large distributed program split into multiple trackable groups
Programs that would like to reduce data entry from pencil and paper sign up sheets
Programs that are looking for an easy way to collect a large number of IDs
Programs that want to specifically target new and/or transient voters that might not be registered at their current address.
Who we wouldn’t recommend this tool to:
Programs with a large number of on-the-ground organizers. In our opinion, the amount of training required to roll this tool out at scale at the regional, organizer, and volunteer level would hinder, not help, an organizer’s ability to meet other targeted voter contact and volunteer recruitment goals.
Instituting a statewide volunteer support structure for the tool would either require dedicated staff fielding thousands of volunteer and staff tickets, or would require such a large portion of an organizer’s time that the time saved from data entry via the tool’s VAN sync would be negated.
At the statewide level, it’s an extracurricular, not a fundamental. On one hand, this tool is best for reaching out to non-targeted universe voters, but not best for critical mobilization and persuasion targets. On the other hand, organizers and organizing teams don’t have an unlimited number of asks they can make of a volunteer, and more often than not one ask will be at the expense of another. Making the OutreachCircle ask, along with the necessary follow through, may not be the best option for your program if you have a targeted universe to mobilize.
Out of State programs. OutreachCircle is meant for people with existing, current relationships in a state. We do not recommend this as a voter contact tool for out of state volunteers–especially in a general election.
GOTV efforts involving polling location notifications. We do not recommend using the tool to inform contacts of their polling locations for two reasons: 1) the liability associated with telling someone the wrong polling location with this kind of voter filing matching is too high, and 2) GOTV efforts need to have high accuracy against a defined turnout universe in a specified manner, and we don’t see that level of accuracy (or contingencies) in place yet. If a program were to use OutreachCircle as a mobilization tool, we would recommend templates linking to an additional, external polling location tool that is frequently updated.