Phone Bank for Michigan
About the Calls
Michigan Dems coordinated campaign, the One Campaign, is focused on electing Democrats up and down the ballot.
The current campaign is calling to check-in on voters during the COVID-19 pandemic, following up on the absentee ballot applications mailed by the Michigan secretary of state, and asking voters if they want to be added to the Permanent Absentee Voter List.
Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes are critical to winning the White House in 2020.
In 2016, Democrats didn’t get enough voters in traditional Democratic strongholds, and lost crucial votes in rural parts of Michigan. Gaining back support in these areas (and state-wide) is essential for Democrats winning Michigan and holding Senator Gary Peter’s Senate seat.
Plus, Michigan Democrats could take back the state’s House of Representatives from Republicans for the first time since 2010—we just need four state house seats! This will provide Governor Whitmer with support in the legislature, and help overturn gerrymandering.
In the state house, Swing Left is currently targeting seven districts—five GOP-held seats and two Democratic holds. Geographically, Swing Left targets are distributed across the state, with the majority surrounding the metro Detroit area. Four GOP incumbents in target districts are being term-limited out of office, giving Democrats an opportunity to flip the chamber in 2020 and protect the integrity of Michigan’s independent redistricting process in 2021.
We need your help for Democrats win big in Michigan in 2020!
Learn more at Resources: Learn More about Michigan (end of this document).
Why Phone Bank?
- After door-to-door canvassing, it’s the most effective way to connect with voters, clean voter lists, and do voter identification.
- It’s extremely effective. Canvassing is on hold during the pandemic, so calling is even more important.
- Provides the opportunity for personal, real-time conversations. It allows us to make personal connections with voters, ask questions, and deliver valuable information to campaigns. Phone banking helps identify supporters, recruit volunteers, deliver yard signs, get out the vote, clean up phone lists, and more.
- Allows campaigns and state Democratic parties to gather critical data and target their resources.
- It’s critical for getting out the vote and reaching rural voters.
- Builds community.
- Is practical and cost effective. Anyone can phone bank from home without having to travel.
Special thanks to Colleen M. and Swing Left’s outstanding virtual phone bank training and virtual organizing guide, which provided the foundation for this document, and Frances B’s outstanding phone bank kit.
1. What is a Virtual Phone Bank (VPB) and OpenVPB?
What is a Virtual Phone Bank?
Virtual Phone Banks (VPB) allow volunteers to make calls from home or at organized–and now virtual—phone banks. This provides critical support for Democratic parties, organizations, and campaigns. You’ll make calls on your phone, and use your computer or tablet to review the script and voter information, and record the information from the call.
What is OpenVPB?
NGP VAN’s OpenVPB software is used by many candidates, state Democratic parties, and Center for Common Ground’s Reclaim Our Vote.
2. RSVP for a Phone Bank
- Please sign up for a shift 24 hours in advance
- After you RSVP, you will receive the script, training video, and appropriate VPB link (which starts with www.openvpb.com).
- Many campaigns will send this on the day of your shift (and in some cases, right before the shift starts).
- If you signed up for a shift with Michigan Dems—and did not receive the OpenVPB link—please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
3. Learn More about the Script and VPB
- See the Michigan Dems Remote Phone Banking guide here.
- Review the June script here
- Please read the script out loud several times. *Smile* as you dial! That helps make a warm connection.
- Review Resources: Phone Banking Best Practices (end of this document)
- Optional: short introductory Swing Left video on phone banking and using Open VPB
- Extra: see the Resource section (end of this document) for more information on phone banking and FAQs
4. Gather Supplies/What You Need
- Phone. To participate in the virtual phone bank, you can use your cell phone, home phone, or Google Voice (optional). Google Voice allows you to create a new number that you can use just for phone banking—for free. Download the Google Voice Android app here and iPhone app here. You can also block caller ID (*67), but this may cause voters to ignore the call. Learn more in the Swing Left OpenVPB FAQs.
- Computer or tablet and Wi-Fi or Internet access. You’ll need a laptop, desktop computer, or smart tablet with internet access to use the VPB website. Note: test the tablet first. It is usually best to use a laptop or desktop computer.
- Set-up an Action ID (if you don’t have one). This is the username and password you’ll need to log into the virtual phone bank using the NGP VAN Virtual Phone Bank software. Action ID passwords must have an upper case letter, a lower case letter, a number or special character, and be more than eight characters long. Opt in for two-step authentication. See the Michigan Dems how-to guide here.
- Pro Tip: if you’ve canvassed using the MiniVan app on your smartphone, you probably already have an Action ID. If you cannot find your password, you can reset it.
- Script, campaign guide, and virtual phone bank URL/link. The campaign will provide this documentation.
- Scratch paper for notes
- Quiet space for calling
- Earbuds or headphones (optional). Earbuds or headphones are helpful for hands-free dialing.
- Webcam (optional). A webcam is helpful for video conferencing, but not required.
- Questions? Check the Swing Left OpenVPB FAQs.
1. Log-In/How To
- Review the Michigan Dems Remote Phone Banking guide here.
- Review the phone bank script here (current as of 5/28/2020). Please read it out loud several times.
- Review Resources: Phone Banking Best Practices (end of this document). *Smile* as you dial! It really helps.
- You will receive a virtual phone bank (VPB) link (URL) the day of your shift(s)
- Log in to VPB with your Action ID. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see who you are calling and the script. Review the script and check out the questions you’ll be recording data in the drop-down field embedded in the script. After recording this data, you’ll save the data and proceed to the next call at the bottom of the page.
- Guide to coding data here
- See Resources (end of this document) for best practices, FAQ, supplemental training, and more
As you call, tally how many calls made, how many conversations, how many Democratic supporters, and how cleanup contacts (i.e., wrong number, disconnected, etc.)
After you finish calling, please jot down statistics at www.tinyurl.com/slmistats. If possible, note the time of day (i.e., afternoon, evening, weekend, or weekday), and impressions of your session (e.g., 90% no pickup or not home, very receptive to vote by mail, talkative voters, etc.) It just takes a minute, and is super helpful. This helps inform us about the best times to call. If it is easier, feel free to email email@example.com. Thanks in advance!
We just posted a friendly phone bank competition (more here) with prizes:
1. Contact Information
If you have questions or need help, please reach out to:
- Deputy Field Director Amy Laube, Deputy Field Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-404-4867) for ActionID questions, and questions about the phone bank, campaign, script, coding, or data corrections. Amy is also the out-of-state volunteer coordinator and can connect folks with individual organizers and regional turf.
- Lisa P., Swing Left Greater Boston/MA for Michigan volunteers (email@example.com) for local MA phone bank questions, how to log-in with ActionID, how to host a Swing Left virtual phone bank, how to post a Swing Left virtual phone bank event on MobilizeAmerica, and feedback and corrections to this action kit.
- Please send action kit feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Setting Up an NGP VAN ActionID
From Swing Left’s amazing OpenVPB template:
- Set-up an Action ID here (if you don’t have one). This is the password and username you’ll need to log into the NGP VAN Virtual Phone Bank (VPB) software.
- Action ID passwords must have an upper case letter, a lower case letter, a number or special character, and be more than eight characters long.
- Pro Tip: if you’ve canvassed using the MiniVan app on your smartphone, you may already have an Action ID. If you forgot your password, you can reset it.
- Click the link for your Virtual Phone Bank and then click “Get Started.”
- Click “Create an Action ID” account if you don’t have one already. Learn more about Action IDs here.
- Enter your email address, password, and phone number. Note: you don’t need to use this phone number to make calls. If you’re using a smartphone to log on, you may also have to enter your cell phone number.
- Be sure to Enable Two-Factor Authentication
- Look for a verification email in the email account you provided (or a text if you set up your account on your phone). Click on the link to confirm your Action ID account.
If you are having trouble setting up or recovering your Action ID username and password, check out the FAQs.
3. Phone Banking Best Practices and Tips
(Adapted from Swing Left’s OpenVPB template and Frances B’s excellent phone banking tips)
Be prepared for voters telling you “No” or hanging up. A contact rate of 5-10% is normal, and you may only talk to a few voters in each shift.
Remember, phone banking is the next best action after canvassing. Don’t get discouraged. Keep going. The majority of calls will go unanswered or go to unreachable numbers, which can be frustrating. However, it’s part of the process, and it is extremely valuable to identify inactive or wrong numbers. This helps improve the campaign’s data and improves future lists, which is very important when we reach get out the vote (GOTV) season.
Some additional tips:
- DO practice the script! Be sure to read it out loud several times. You will get better and more comfortable as you make more calls. Practice makes perfect.
- DO “smile while you dial”! This really helps.
- DO use a warm, friendly tone. Most people decide whether to take your call within the first minute of your introduction. Try to be someone you’d like to talk to.
- DO be respectful of the voter’s time. If they can’t talk, politely end the call.
- DO try to use the voter’s name. If you’re not sure you should call them by their first name, please ask.
- DO follow the key points of the script, but do not be a robot and read the script word for word. You will have more success if you approach the script as though you’re having a conversation.
- DO make yourself comfortable. Find a quiet, comfortable space. We recommend using earbuds or headphones, so you can focus on the conversation and tune out extraneous noise.
- DO remember that everything you’re doing is helping the campaign!
- DO thank voters for their time, even if the call didn’t go well or according to plan.
- DO make sure you track call outcomes correctly, and save data before making the next call. Data is critical for the campaigns. If you have questions, please ask your phone bank captain or campaign organizer (see Resources: Contacts).
- DO try and make calling a regular event (either on your own, or in a group). If you schedule a regular phone bank at the same time—and on a regular basis—volunteers can put the event on their calendar. If you recruit regular volunteers and experienced callers, you can rotate event hosting and staffing.
- DO saying say “calling voters” instead of “phone banking.” The word phone bank makes some volunteers anxious.
- DO consider doing demo a call, if you’re training new volunteers. New callers are often anxious about calling voters, and demonstration calls and/or role playing can help put them at ease. Some trainers record a video demo, so new volunteers can watch the video at their leisure.
- DO share your experiences with other phone bankers. One of the advantages of group calling is sharing experiences, increasing confidence, and inspiring each other. If you’re calling as an organized group, share experiences during the end-of-the-call debrief, when everyone returns to the Zoom call.
- DON’T get discouraged. The majority of calls will go unanswered or go to unreachable numbers, which can be frustrating. However, it’s part of the process, and it is extremely valuable to identify inactive or wrong numbers. This helps improve the campaign’s data and improves future lists, which is very important when we reach get out the vote (GOTV) season.
- DON’T talk fast through your script. Take your time when speaking—it’s not going to be better if you speed through it.
- DON’T go too far off script. Do make the script your own, but please include the main points and follow the basic script.
- DON’T leave voicemails. Phone banking is effective because we have real-time conversations with voters. Only leave voicemails if the campaign says to. These voters will go back in the queue for future calls.
- DON’T make up an answer. If you do not know the answer to a question, feel free to say you’re a volunteer and don’t know the answer, but will have someone foll0w-up with an answer. Please ask your phone bank captain or campaign organizer, and provide them with the voter’s contact information and question, so they get the information they need. See Resources: Contacts).
- DON’T interrupt. Let voters finish their thought, then respond.
- DON’T take anything personally. Nobody likes being hung up on, but unfortunately, it occasionally happens. Just smile and move on.
- DON’T speak negatively of other parties, campaigns, or organizations.
- DON’T engage with the opposition. If a voter indicates their support for an opponent or says something rude or inappropriate, politely thank them for their time, wish them a good day, and move on.
Later in the election cycle, people may tell you they have been called many times. Different groups may be calling and due to campaign finance laws, may not be allowed to coordinate with each other. The best way to respond is simply to be a human, follow the script, and be courteous.
You may be concerned about calling from another state, but we’ve found this is not an issue for most voters. Most conversations do not last long enough for the voter to ask about your location.
If the question does come up, feel free to respond however you are most comfortable. Phone bankers generally receive a positive reaction when they explain they’re calling from somewhere else, but have taken time to volunteer, particularly since elections around the country are so important this year.
4. Phone Bank Training Videos
New to phone banking? Check out these videos:
5. Hosting a Michigan Virtual Phone Bank
Need more information about hosting a virtual event? Check out the Together for 2020 Host a Virtual Event guide.
Need more help setting up a virtual Michigan phone bank, or other Michigan event? Please email email@example.com.
6. Phone Banking FAQs
See Swing Left’s OpenVPB FAQs for more information.
7. Need More Help?
- Join us for Michigan Tech Tuesday: How to Phone Bank or Text Bank with the Michigan Dem’s ONE Campaign. RSVP here
- Join one our regular phone banks! Find more Michigan events on the Michigan calendar and Swing Left Boston MA for Michigan volunteer group page
- Dialing with others is a great way to learn the ropes, and learn how to host your own virtual phone bank. Don’t worry if you have not done this before! We’ll help you every step of the way
- Check out Swing Left’s outstanding phone bank training here (including recorded training video)
- Contact Lisa P. (firstname.lastname@example.org) with local questions, how to log-in with ActionID, how to host a local virtual phone bank, how to post a virtual phone bank event on MobilizeAmerica, and feedback and corrections to this action kit
- Look forward to dialing with you soon!
8. Learn More about Michigan/Michigan Image Library
Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes are critical to winning the White House in 2020.
In 2016, we didn’t get enough voters in traditional Democratic strongholds. We also lost crucial votes in rural parts of Michigan. Gaining back support in these areas (and state-wide) will be essential to winning Michigan and holding Senator Gary Peter’s Senate seat.
Plus, Michigan Democrats could take back the state’s House of Representatives from Republicans for the first time since 2010. This will provide Governor Whitmer with support in the Michigan state house and help overturn gerrymandering.
In the state house, we are currently targeting seven districts—five GOP-held seats and two Democratic holds. Geographically, our targets are distributed across the state, with the majority surrounding the metro Detroit area. Four GOP incumbents in target districts are being term-limited out of office, giving Democrats an opportunity to flip the chamber in 2020 and protect the integrity of Michigan’s independent redistricting process in 2021.
We need your help to win big in Michigan in 2020!
- Find more Michigan events on the Michigan calendar and Swing Left Boston MA for Michigan volunteer group page
- Learn more about Michigan here
- Download the Michigan PDF
- Michigan overview slide
- Sample Michigan phone bank host slides here