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Starting A Monthly Calling Campaign

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Description

This training describes how chapters can create a group of volunteers who call once per month to ensure their member(s) of Congress receive a small number of phone calls every day from constituents. If you’d like to move your member of Congress on an issue via a steady drumbeat of daily calls, then you may want to sign everyone up to make a monthly call and designate one volunteer as your district or state Monthly Calling Congress Campaign (MCC) Admin.

Breadcrumb
/topics/contacting-congress
TOC and Guide Section
 
What is this tool?

The Monthly Calling Campaign is a new tool that allows members of the public (whether they are CCL volunteers yet or not) to sign up (cclusa.org/mcc) to call once per month. The campaign then assigns the caller to a day and sends an email or text message with a link to a script and a phone number every month on that day. Calls to Congress are most meaningful when callers are courteous, personal, and focus on a specific bill or issue. Your phone is a potent tool for participatory democracy.

How does it work?

Your chapter’s Monthly Calling Campaign will sign up and support volunteers in the district or state to regularly call their Members of Congress, with the goal of providing enough volunteers participating so that every week day is covered by three to five volunteers.  Any group of CCL volunteers can set up a steady long-term drumbeat of phone calls to a member of Congress by signing up your local community members to call at cclusa.org/mcc and finding one volunteer to be your MCC Admin for the district. Admins can sign up at admin.cclcalls.org/signup.

Click the “Watch” tab above to see the training video which provides a much more thorough walk-through of the process for both callers and admins.

Admin Support

For Admins, download this helpful three page guide created by MCC Admin Ginny Rogers that walks through the Admin Dashboard as well as how to edit the Calling Script and Talking Points. 

For additional support, MCC Admins can get information, post questions, and join the  Monthly Calling Campaign Admins Action Team on CCL Community. You are also welcome to email feedback@cclcalls.org with any feedback or questions.

Is this similar to Project Grand Canyon?

Project Grand Canyon launched online in June 2019 as a volunteer-developed project created by CCL leaders and volunteers inspired by earlier Minnesota groups and calling congress campaigns featured below. Thanks to volunteers’ efforts, more than 1,500 people have signed up to call their Member of Congress every month about climate change. An earlier version using Google spreadsheets was known as both Project Grand Canyon or Dialing Congress Campaign and it’s perfectly fine if your chapter keeps that approach in use - see “About the Dialing Congress Campaign” below for more information.

CCL has adopted this promising grassroots project as the official tool for making monthly calls to Congress. This exciting advancement comes with a few immediate changes for 2020:

Why is calling Congress important?

CCL volunteers have been told at times by members of Congress and their aides that “we don’t hear much from constituents about climate change, and nothing is more powerful in getting our attention than written letters and phone calls.” By signing up many monthly callers locally, you are making sure that Congress hears from their constituents every day about climate change. A key goal is to hear someone in your congressional office say, “we seem to be receiving a lot of calls asking my boss to enact climate legislation.”  

The following recommendations are based on the experiences and thanks to the work of CCL chapters in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, and North Carolina. However, as with all local chapter activities, we trust you to know what’s right with your member of Congress and whether a Monthly Calling Campaign would advance the relationship forward towards their support for the Energy Innovation Act. 

Supporting your callers

It’s normal that some people sign up and don’t call. People have many distractions to pull them away from their good intentions.  A 50% call completion is a good rate, but you are welcome to do better than that! Try these tips to get the most number of people calling:

  • Send personal reminders to people who don’t report their calls. The more connected they feel to you, the more they won’t want to let you down by failing to call.
  • Let participants know how many calls were made each month and how it related to your campaign’s goals.
  • Newer participants often need more encouragement so pay extra attention to them. Once someone has done it 3-4 months in a row they have formed a habit that keeps them going.
  • Be sure to share any encouraging news from your members of Congress, such as lobby meetings held or good positions taken or signs of decreased opposition.
  • If someone has not reported any calls for 3-4 months, call and ask if they have any suggestions for how to make it work better for them or it they would like to be removed from the campaign.  
Outreach Tactics

The hardest part of generating a sustained number of calls is often getting enough people to sign up to make the calls. Sending an email to your chapter’s roster is a great start, but what do you do after that? Below is a list of ideas you could try to get more constituents to sign up to call their member of Congress. 

  • Call CCL volunteers who live in that district and ask them to sign up to call
  • Ask the chapter members to invite their friends to sign up to call. You could make a friendly competition for who could get the most people they know to sign up.
  • Attend a local community event like a neighborhood association meeting, make an announcement about what you are doing, and pass a paper sign-up sheet or Monthly Calling Campaign Quarter-Page Flyers around.
  • Set up one on one meetings with people who know lots of people in the district, and ask that person to help recruit 5-10 sign ups.
  • Go to a public event like a festival or a farmers market with sign up sheets and ask people to sign up to call.

Generally, be creative. Don’t limit yourself to the CCL list, try new things, find what works and keep doing that.

Advice and tips for administrators/organizers
  • Remind your group leaders to regularly ask for new volunteers. Sending a report to group leaders on how many calls were made each month or quarter can help motivate more participation.
  • Having a partner or small committee to share the work can keep you going too!

Guidance for composing talking points

  • As you add new talking points for the Monthly Calling Campaign in your District or State, be mindful of wording and content. Remember CCL's methodology of respect, admiration, and appreciation for all members of Congress.  
    • Be respectful and non-partisan
    • Be professional and stick to CCL’s core values
    • Stick to the facts. Avoid opinion and editorializing.
    • Don’t be accusatory
    • Keep them short and to the point
    • Stay focused on climate. Don’t bring in other issues, not even as an appreciation, because it can muddy the focus of the call.

Here’s an example of a poorly worded talking point

“People want action on climate change and Congress should deliver. It is almost unbelievable that Congress is so far behind public opinion on this issue.”

Here’s an example of a well worded talking point

“67% of Missouri voters believe that climate change will harm future generations and most think Congress should do more to address climate change.”

About the Dialing Congress Campaign

Moving forward, CCL National will be encouraging new campaigns to utilize the Monthly Calling Congress Campaign described above. However, if you are already engaged in a Dialing Congress Campaign with Google Forms, decide which tool is the best fit for your group(s). 

For instructions on how to start a Dialing Congress Campaign approach, see this PDF document. Here is a comparison of the strengths and limitations of each project:

  • Dialing Congress Campaign:
    • Action tracking must be done by manually
    • Allows you to customize your welcome message and monthly reminder system
    • Provides flexibility in setup to also choose a state-wide program
    • Allows for calling all three of your members of Congress (your House district Representative and both Senators)
  • Monthly Calling Campaign:
    • Provides a smooth automated way for constituents in your district to sign-up (independent of signing up as a CCL volunteer) for a monthly reminder, a script, and the phone number to call. 
    • Access to Monthly Calling Campaign Admins Action Team for support 
    • Focuses on only one Congressional office that your local admin deems is most strategic (plans to eventually provide access to calling the Representative and/or both Senators)
    • Action tracking is automated
  • Both provide the following benefits:
    • Provides your chapter the chance to engage in an organized strategic local campaign 
    • Engage your chapter volunteers with an easy action with an important local goal (i.e. 20 calls a week)
    • May help you engage your grassroots outreach opportunities with tabling and presenting 
    • A mechanism for people to report their call and a way for the admin to send a follow-up reminder to people who haven’t yet reported called that month.

If you decide to make the switch from your Dialing Congress Campaign to a Monthly Calling Campaign, feel free to email your list of existing callers as a .csv/.xls file to feedback@cclcalls.org and the Monthly Calling Campaign admins will upload your contacts to the new tool. 

Length
Press play to start the video (42:54)
https://vimeo.com/album/5914493
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Calling Tool Background
(3:38)

How to Make a Call
(6:37)

Running a Calling Campaign
(14:31)

Success Stories from the Field
(27:26)

Getting Support Ahead
(35:04)

Instructor(s)
  • Ben Boral
  • Ham Richards
  • David Malitz
Downloads

Download the Powerpoint or Google Slides presentation.

Download the video.
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (42m 54s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline

To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Calling Tool Background
(3:38)

How to Make a Call
(6:37)

Running a Calling Campaign
(14:31)

Success Stories from the Field
(27:26)

Getting Support Ahead
(35:04)

 

Instructor(s)
  • Ben Boral
  • Ham Richards
  • David Malitz

 

Go Deeper
Want more support? Join Monthly Calling Campaign Admins
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To Print
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Category
Training
Topics
Lobbying Congress
Format
Audio / Video, Handout
File Type
Google Slides, PowerPoint (.pptx), Other