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Relational Organizing Tool

OutreachCircle (formerly VoterCircle) is a supporter management, relational organizing and P2P texting platform that enables volunteers, activists and donors to support campaigns and organizations.

 

Check out OutreachCircle’s guide on organizing with social distance. 

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Tool type: Relational Organizing Tool
Meant for: Volunteers, Digital Directors, Organizing Management, Organizers

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.

Use case:

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.

Biggest drawback:

Scaling this kind of tool requires a lot of volunteer capacity and data support.

Does it sync to NGP VAN?

Yes – read and write.

Pricing

$

Free platform available for organizations and campaigns of every size.

All plans (see below for details) include unlimited supporters, admins, emails and text messages.

Testimonials 

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. Outrach Circle is the only  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.

User Flow:

  • 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.

Pros:

  • 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.

  • Grouping: Unlike other tools, OutreachCircle has the ability for an organization to split up their efforts into multiple groups and tracking links for different teams, regions, languages, staff.

  • 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. 

  • Integrations – Outreach Circle can integrate with: EveryAction, Phone2Action, New Mode, Blackbaud, PDI, FB Pixel, YouTube/Vimeo, Mobilize (May release) 

  • In addition to text and social outreach, OutreachCircle offers 1:many email outreach where 100s of contacts can be sent individual messages at once which works well for persuasion and fundraising.  Email open rates are approximately 50%.

Drawbacks:

  • 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

Pricing:

  • 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

VAN Sync:

  • 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.