Paperless Grassroots Outreach
This training provides advice on how to transition to paperless constituent messaging (generating calls, tweets, and online letters) during outreach events such as tabling, presentations, and film screenings. You may want to try this in your chapter, especially if you are in a metropolitan area, or if you conduct outreach at large scale events, where you are likely to collect letters from many districts and/or states.
Advantages Of Going Paperless
There are many advantages to delivering constituent messages to Congress by calling, tweeting and writing online instead of sending paper letters:
- People can easily scan a QR code with their phone to take action (QR codes are on this handout). One QR code takes people to cclusa.org/join where they can easily join CCL online.
- Our online Action Tools automatically determine an appropriate customizable message for each member of Congress.
- Online messages can be easily and immediately delivered to the congressional office no matter where the constituent happens to be when they send it.
- The online tools send messages to the Senators so there’s no need to make photocopies.
- Messages are delivered online in a steady drumbeat (instead of all at once in a paper pile), and message authors who opt in are automatically entered into the CCL database, added to a CCL chapter roster, and automatically entered into the member of Congress’s constituent database so congressional interns can do work other than typing in contact details. Online messages are also automatically logged in the Action Tracker.
- CCL volunteers and congressional aides don’t have to decipher scrawled handwritten addresses and phone numbers.
There are many benefits to joining CCL online instead of signing a paper signup sheet
- Less time to first contact from another local volunteer, (research shows the faster the initial contact the more likely someone is to engage)
- Fewer input errors when entering into the chapter roster
- Less sign-ups from people that aren't really signing up with their address.
- Reduced post-event workload for organizers and membership team (some spreadsheet uploads can lag as much as a week or two after the event).
For attendees who don't have a phone or are unable to use the browser on the phone, you may want to have a backup sign up sheet to collect names and contact information at outreach events. You can download the signup sheet by clicking on the blue button below.
Due to the many benefits of online constituent messaging, we’re suggesting that CCL chapters, especially metro chapters, try out paperless constituent messaging. At the June 2019 CCL Conference in D.C., more than 50 attendees volunteered their time to help accept and file over 33,000 paper constituent letters and distribute folders full of letters to lobby meeting leaders for delivery on lobby day. It would be better for the environment, for conference attendees, and for Congressional offices if we could transition 100% of those paper letters to online messages.
Tracking Paperless Outreach Data
How will you know how many paperless constituent messages were delivered in your district/state? CCL's Action Tracker allow volunteers to easily generate activity reports that show the number of messages (letters, calls and tweets) delivered online to their members of Congress. It also enables volunteers to celebrate their success on their own schedule.
Group Leaders and State Coordinators receive a monthly email report that includes a summary of actions logged in the Action Tracker and messages sent using our online Action Tools. If you use social media at your tabling and other outreach events, you’ll need to log those in the Action Tracker.
Preparing To Go Paperless At Events
Are you preparing to collect paperless constituent messages at an outreach event? When engaging someone at an outreach event, asking them to take a small action right then and there is the best way to get them engaged and show them how easy it is to exercise their political power. If attendees are reluctant to type in their name and address, explain that congressional offices require the information to ensure that the messages are from constituents. You might also mention that they should expect a reply.
Be sure to practice before the event so that you don’t run into problems while explaining it to others. Allow extra time to resolve connectivity issues and to test out the online Action Tools.
Here is some information on how to set up your tabling or other outreach so that event attendees can take small online actions (call, tweet, write online) right then and there.
Bring Smartphones, Tablets and Laptops
Attendees can choose the device that they are most familiar with, and you can show them how to send a message to their member of Congress using CCL’s online Action Tools. Many attendees will be happy to send a message from their own phone if you show them how. This has the advantage of the attendee doing a simple action that they may want to repeat on their own. It also has the advantage that you don’t have to loan your personal smartphone to an attendee you don’t know.
Connect Devices To Internet
If there is public wifi available at the event, connect your devices to that. If there is no wifi, then the best option is for someone to “hotspot” their phone. This is usually found in the smartphone’s settings under “Network.” It’s best to set a simple password. The hot-spotted phone will provide wifi to all of your other devices. Connect your tablets and laptops to the hot-spotted smartphone just like you normally connect to wifi.
Note: If you hotspot a smartphone, be sure that the smartphone account has a big allotment of mobile data, or unlimited data, in the carrier plan. Otherwise, the mobile data may run out, or the smartphone owner may run up mobile data charges.
Help Attendees Use CCL's Online Action Tools
Here are some tips that may help you when showing attendees and/or table visitors how to use our online tools below.
- Use the Paperless Action Tools Handout to help direct visitors to our tools online. The handout includes a QR code for each action.
- If table visitors are uncomfortable using a small device, show them how to use our online Action Tools on a laptop or tablet.
- For attendees who cannot or do not wish to use a QR code, help them type the online tool URL into the browser on their smartphone.
- If attendees are having a difficult time entering the URL into a browser, they can text the words “call”, “write”, or “tweet” to 619-675-7507 to get links to these tools.
- Point out that they can decline to be added to the CCL mailing list by unchecking that box. People who join the CCL mailing list will automatically be added to the roster of their closest CCL chapter.
Use Our Online “Write Congress” Tool
- Short Link: cclusa.org/write
Show attendees how to send a message to Congress from their own smartphone at: cclusa.org/write. After they enter their address, the tool will provide an example message. Encourage attendees to customize the message before sending it.
Use Our Online “Call Congress” Tool
- Short Link: cclusa.org/call
If your outreach event is in an environment where you can talk on a smartphone and there is little or no background noise, ask event attendees to call their members of Congress using our online tool at cclusa.org/call. After they enter their address, the tool will provide a script and phone numbers for their members of Congress.
Making their calls with their phones in “Speakerphone” mode will allow volunteers to read the script in the tool.
Be sure they click the "DONE CALLING" button after making their calls so that their calls are reported.
Use Our Online “Tweet Congress” Tool
- Short Link: cclusa.org/tweet
If event attendees would prefer to post in their social media rather than write or call their legislators, help them to type the URL cclusa.org/tweet into the browser on their smartphone and then enter their contact information into the form.
Post On Social Media
Bring a CCL poster or backdrop and invite people to take a selfie in front of it. Then ask them to post the photo on their social media, tag it with their Representative and Senator’s social media handles, and include the hashtag #GrassrootsClimate. It’s best to keep a list of social media handles handy for members of Congress in your state/region. If attendees don’t know their members of Congress, they can look them up by entering their address in our online write, call or tweet tool.
If you are posting photos for multiple event attendees from your own smartphone or tablet, collect groups of photos into one post so that you don’t overwhelm the Congressional office with too many posts from one social media handle.
Don’t include minors in the photos that you post from CCL. Minors can participate using their own mobile devices.
Instead of putting out a paper signup sheet, ask attendees to join CCL using the browser on their phone or by sending a text.
- Ask attendees to “Join” CCL at cclusa.org/join and, if they’d like to be alerted to occasional actions they can take, check the box, “I'd like to receive occasional text messages.” If they’d like to sign up for the weekly Wednesday Information Session, check that box too.
- Another way to join is to send a text message with the word “Join” to 619-675-7507. You can print and post this Text to Join CCL Sign so that everyone can see the phone number.
- Less time to first contact, (research shows the faster the initial contact the more likely someone is to engage)
- Fewer input errors, (around 15%)
- Less ghost signups, (anywhere from 15-30%)
- Reduced post-event workload for organizers (some big events could have pages of new volunteer to manually add).
- New Member Reports. Every Friday a new member report is sent to group leaders. Contacting these new members and getting them connected to the chapter is one of the most essential jobs for a group leader. This new member report includes the name, phone number, email and city of people who have joined the chapter that week.
- Action Reports and Endorsers. Every month, usually on the 4th, group leaders will receive analysis of local action reports and endorsements. This comes as an Excel spreadsheet with a few different tabs and can be used to track chapter progress.
Intro & Agenda
How To Go Paperless
Using CCL’s Online Action Tools
- Bill Marshall
- Sam Adams
- Jess Wilber
Download PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.Download the video.
Intro & Agenda
How To Go Paperless
Using CCL’s Online Action Tools
- Bill Marshall
- Sam Adams
- Jess Wilber
- Paperless Action Tools Handout
- See all resources associated with Grassroots Outreach.