Tool Assessment Glossary

  • Call Tool: Either increase the efficiency of each hour spent making phone calls, or make conference calls more effective. 

  • Canvass Tool: Make the door to door canvassing process more efficient by reducing data entry time, optimizing walk routes, or giving managers tracking ability for their canvassers. 

  • Chatbot: Can produce canned responses and even schedule volunteer shifts based on user responses. 

  • CRM: Store data, log interactions with volunteers and voters, and keep your data organized. 

  • Data Tool: Everything from creating voter models to maps to reports. Generally, they help a data team give thorough understandings of their data to non-data audiences. 

  • Email Platform: Make sending a large number of emails take less time, more efficient, and allow for data tracking. 

  • Events Tool: Allow programs to more easily recruit volunteers for events, and track the data in a central location. 

  • Mass SMS: Allow a program to text a large number of people (who have opted in) with a message with one click. They are often used with a 5 digit shortcode. 

  • Peer-to-peer SMS: Allow a user to send a large number of messages quickly to people who have not opted in by tapping their phone or computer for each individual message. 

  • Poll Location Tool: Allow voters to looks up their polling location so they know where to vote. 

  • Postcard Tool: Allow volunteers to quickly send postcards to voters to remind them to vote. 

  • Relational Organizing Tool: Allow volunteers to activate their friend networks to take action, whether it be persuasion, mobilization, registration, or volunteer recruitment.

  • Volunteer management Tool: Make it easier for organizers to direct volunteer action. 

An example of how an organizing program would use the tool. 

We assessed what type of sync (if any) each tool has with NGP VAN. 

  • Write Only: this tool can put information into VAN, but can’t pull any information out of VAN. 

  • Read Only: this tool can pull information out of VAN and interact with it, but can’t put anything back into VAN.

  • Read and Write: this is a tool that can both pull information out of VAN and put information into VAN. These tools are the more comprehensive but often take the longest to set up. 

We evaluated who the tool is designed to be used by (or who it is meant to be facing). Here are the most common:

  • Data Teams: These tools typically affect an organization’s data structure, models, or reporting. 

  • Digital Teams: These tools would most likely be used by staff that manage a campaign’s social media accounts or email programs, or require a lot of HQ supervision to implement. 

  • Organizers: These tools are not only geared towards direct volunteer recruitment or voter contact, but also are user friendly enough to roll out at scale at the organizer level. 

  • Organizing Management: These tools are best used by an organizing manager to implement large scale strategies or bring a large number of staff together. 

  • Paid voter contact programs: These tools are designed to make paid canvass and paid phones programs more efficient and effective; they usually involve some sort of accountability functionality. 

  • Volunteers: These tools do not require a lot of administrative overhead and are designed for volunteers to use themselves to mobilize voters. 

  • 1 dollar sign: this tool is free to use, a free feature in VAN, or would only require payment to upgrade to a premium version.  

  • 2 dollar signs: the tool costs less than $100 per month

  • 3 dollar signs: this tool costs between $100 and $1000 per month even in enterprise editions.  

  • 4 dollar signs: The tool can cost multiple thousands of dollars per month depending on the level of customization/size of the desired voter file.