Paperless Grassroots Outreach

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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. 

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Advantages Of Going Paperless

There are many advantages to delivering constituent messages to Congress by calling, tweeting and writing online: 

  1. Our online Action Tools automatically determine if a legislator has cosponsored the bill or not and customizes the sample message accordingly. 
  2. Online messages can be easily and immediately delivered to the congressional office no matter where the constituent happens to be when they send it. 
  3. The online tools send messages to the Senators so there’s no need to make photocopies. 
  4. Messages are delivered online in a steady drumbeat (instead of all at once in a paper pile), and message authors 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 reported, so there’s no need for you to submit a Field Report. 
  5. CCL volunteers and congressional aides don’t have to decipher scrawled handwritten addresses and phone numbers. 

Due to the many benefits of online constituent messaging, we’re suggesting that CCL chapters, especially metro chapters, try out paperless constituent messaging in 2020. 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 50% of those paper letters to online messages in 2020.

Tracking Paperless Outreach Data

How will you know how many paperless constituent messages were delivered in your district/state? CCL is planning to launch a new tool later in 2020 that will 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 will also enable volunteers to celebrate their success on their own schedule.  

In the meantime, Group Leaders and State Coordinators receive a monthly email report that includes a summary of Field Reports and messages sent using our online Action Tools. If you use social media at your tabling and other outreach events, you’ll need to keep track of those.

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.
  • If table visitors are uncomfortable using a small device, show them how to use our online Action Tools on a laptop or tablet.
  • Help attendees to type the online tool URL into the browser on their smartphone, and enter their contact information into the form. 
  • 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

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 

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.   

You can also ask attendees to enroll in CCL's Monthly Calling Campaign, (more information in the Start A Monthly Calling Campaign training) by going to the short link: cclusa.org/mcc

Use Our Online “Tweet Congress” Tool

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. 

Joining CCL

Another small action that attendees can do at your outreach event is to sign up to join CCL.

  • 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.  
Note: For those individuals that use any of CCL's online Action Tools and choose to opt in for CCL's mailing list, group leaders will receive a notice for them two ways highlighted in the Group Leader Reports training page.
  1. New Member Reports. Every Friday group leaders receive a new member report to remember that contacting your new members and getting them connected to your chapter is one of the most essential jobs as a group leader. This report will include the name, phone number, email and city of people who have joined the chapter that week.
  2. Field Reports and Endorsers. Every month, usually on the 4th, group leaders will receive analysis of local field reports and endorsements. This comes as an Excel spreadsheet with a few different tab and can be used to track chapter progress.
Length
Press play to start the video (33m 13s)
https://vimeo.com/showcase/6793962
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Paperless Advantages
(2:46)

How To Go Paperless
(14:12)

Using CCL’s Online Action Tools
(23:35)
 
Instructor(s)
  • Bill Marshall
  • Sam Adams
  • Jess Wilber
Downloads

Download PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

Download the video.
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (33m 13s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Paperless Advantages
(2:46)

How To Go Paperless
(14:12)

Using CCL’s Online Action Tools
(23:35)

 
Instructor(s)
  • Bill Marshall
  • Sam Adams
  • Jess Wilber
Go Deeper
Check out the Community Outreach Training Topic for more specific outreach ideas to certain communities.
Discussion Topic
To Print
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Category
Training
Topics
Grassroots Outreach
Format
Audio / Video, Presentation
File Type
Google Slides, PowerPoint (.pptx)
Training Resources