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T h e G r a d u at e S c h o o l o f P o l i t i c a l M a n a g e m e n t

Constituent Relationship Management: The New Little Black Book of
Politics is a publication of GW’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Inter-
Julie Barko Germany, deputy director of the Institute, is the principal editor
of this publication. Peter Churchill (Center for American Progress) is the assis-
tant editor. Ed Trelinski (event manager), John Neurohr (research assistant), Riki
Parikh, Ryan Sullivan, Zach Morgan (researchers), and Chris Brooks (financial
manager) assisted with the research, editing and writing. The staff of Adfero
Group provided invaluable assistance and helped with the research. Carol Darr,
director of the Institute, provided additional editing. Ian Koski of On Deck Com-
munication Studio designed and paginated the publication.
This project benefited greatly from the advice and assistance of many in-
dividuals. We especially thank all of our authors: Their opinions, however, as
interesting and provocative as they are, do not necessarily reflect those of the
IPDI is the premier research and advocacy center for the study and promo-
tion of online politics in a manner that encourages citizen participation and
is consistent with democratic principles. IPDI is non-partisan and non-profit
and is a part of the Graduate School of Political Management at The George
Washington University. F. Christopher Arterton is dean of the school. For more
information about the Graduate School of Political Management, visit www.
For more information about the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Inter-
net, visit http://www.ipdi.org.

© GW’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet.

The editor is Julie Barko Germany. This book may not be reproduced without
the expressed written permission of IPDI or the Graduate School of Political

The date of publication is March 15, 2007.





Table of Contents
Introduction By Julie Barko Germany ..................3 Chapter 12 - The End of the Campaign and the
Beginning of Elected Office: Correspondence
Part I – An Introduction to Constituent Relationship Management and CRM
Management By Daniel Bennett ............................................53

Chapter 1 – Constituent Relationship Part III – CRM for Advocacy and Nonprofits
Management: How Smart Business Equals
Winning Politics Chapter 13 – Finding the Lifeblood of Your
By Peter Churchill ...............................................8 Nonprofit
By Jason Zanon.................................................58
Chapter 2 – Putting Ideas into Action: Principles
and Applications of Constituent Relationship Chapter 14 – Not Just for Political Candidates:
Management Voter Files and Constituent Relationship
By Jeff Mascott, Ken Ward, and Julie Barko Management
Germany ...........................................................14 By Catherine Geanuracos .................................60

Part II – The Data-Powered Campaign Chapter 15 – Integrating Constituent Data: Three

Chapter 3 – It’s the Data, Stupid! By Laura S. Quinn ............................................64
By Peter Churchill ............................................21
Chapter 16 – Driving Advocacy and Action with
Chapter 4 – Understanding Constituent CRM
Motivation: The Benefits of Effective CRM By Jon Thorsen ..................................................70
By Jocelyn Bowman ..........................................27
Chapter 17 – Finding the Political Influentials
Chapter 5 – Get a Clue! The Dawn of CRM in Hiding in Plain Sight in Your Database
Politics By Carol Darr ....................................................77
By Bobby Clark .................................................28
Chapter 18 – If the Shoe Fits: Finding an Open
Chapter 6 – How Web 2.0 Electrifies Data in the Source CRM Solution for Political Nonprofits
Political World By Dave Greenberg ...........................................81
By Benjamin A. Katz ........................................32
Chapter 19 – Your Website is an Interaction Tool
Chapter 7 – Software as a Service: A Strategic By Aaron Welch ................................................85
Imperative for Political Campaigns
By Daniel Burton ..............................................35 Chapter 20 – Small Nonprofits Have a Seat at the
CRM Table
Chapter 8 – Making Your CRM Volunteer-Friendly By David Geilhufe .............................................89
By Ian Koski .....................................................38
Chapter 21 – The Email Factor: Tailoring Your
Case Study: Ragtag Armies and Online Donkeys: Communications Program
Volunteer Management and CRM in the 2006 By Sheeraz Haji ................................................91
Senate Campaign of Jim Webb
By Dave Hannigan and Dave Leichtman.........41 Part IV – Managing Constituent Communications in
Elected Office
Chapter 9 – Data, Data Everywhere. Now What Do
I Do with it? Chapter 22 – Turning Problems into
By Christopher Massicotte ................................44 Opportunities: Why CRM Makes Congressional
Offices Proactive
Chapter 10 – Retail Politics? Not So Fast. By Jeff Mascott .................................................96
By Jonathan Karush ..........................................49
Chapter 23 – Interactive Democracy
Flashback to 2002: Notes from a Field Campaign: By Stuart S. Shapiro .......................................101
How I used data and door-to-door canvassing to
pinpoint likely voters Chapter 24 – The Ideal CRM for Members of
By Kendra Ann Crowley ....................................51 Congress
By Ken Ward and Nick Schaper ......................105
Chapter 11 – People Come Before Programs
By Clay Johnson ................................................52 Appendix I – Author Biographies .................... 109





INTRODUCTION business – or, for the sake of this publication, the

business of politics – more efficient and more effec-
tive. In layman’s terms, it has the potential to save
you money and make you more friends.
Got Data? This is where data comes in. The idea is to use
integrative, interactive tools to manage your relation-
ships with supporters – from details like name and
address to online and offline correspondence. The
JULIE BARKO GERMANY corporate world calls it customer relationship man-
INSTITUTE FOR POLITICS, DEMOCRACY & agement (CRM). More than a decade after the corpo-
rate world began to use CRM to develop a one-to-one
marketing relationship with consumers, the political
I admit it: the title of this chapter is deceptive. It’s world is finally starting to catch on. Customer rela-
not about the data. It’s actually about how you use tionship management becomes constituent relation-
it. ship management. (It also goes by the name of voter
Sure, data is nice to have around. It’s valuable. It relationship management in other publications.)
lends an element of credibility inside the Beltway to The chapters contained in this publication are not
be able boast about the size of your email list. Cer- designed to offer a complete worldview of CRM. In-
tainly, the political world has been abuzz the past stead, we consider them to be unique tiles that, when
few years about the size of the databases at the DNC combined, form a large mosaic about how to use re-
and RNC and exactly what they contain. You can also lationship management in politics.
make a tidy sum selling that information – if you’re By politics, we don’t just refer to campaigns. We
brave enough. And, the more you have, the more mean politics broadly defined, including trade asso-
people gossip about it. ciations, advocacy groups, nonprofits, civic groups,
In other words, data is hot. Those of us working elected office, and yes, even the federal, state and
on this publication have certainly talked about how local governments. We divided this publication into
data is the sexy new topic in politics: everyone wants sections, depending upon the type of organization
it, no one seems to get enough of it, and we’re all dy- you run – political campaigns, nonprofit and advo-
ing to see what people do with it. cacy groups, and elected office. But we don’t want
But stockpiling enough servers to fill a discount you to limit yourself to just the section that pertains
department store with information about voters, do- to what you do. We think many of the chapters in this
nors, and activists won’t get you anywhere unless, publication offer lessons that can be absorbed into
of course, you know how to use it. Or, to quote jazz everything you do in the political and nonprofit com-
great Ella Fitzgerald, “T’aint what you do. It’s the way munities.
that you do it.” We won’t tell you all the secrets now. We’ll let our
Instead, this publication is all about developing authors to tell you.
relationships with your constituents.
It’s no secret that people are more responsive
when they feel like they are in a relationship with an-
other party – a spouse, neighbor, or even a political
party or nonprofit. We want people to know who we
are. We want to be heard. We want to be treated like
Top Take-Aways
unique individuals. We want someone to meet our
needs. 1. Change your philosophy. It’s not all about
Would you ask a complete stranger to do you a fa- your candidate, your organization’s mission,
vor? Probably not. Would you ask a complete strang- or you. It’s about putting your constituents
er for money? What about a vote? Most of us in the at the center of everything you do. As Peter
political or nonprofit worlds do it every day through Churchill writes in Chapter 1, “every action
a variety of mediums: email, phone calls, direct mail, a campaign makes must be in support of
face-to-face meetings. But what if there were a way to its relationship with the voter.” Substitute
treat each constituent, donor, volunteer or voter like “campaign” with congressional office, non-
an individual? What if you could build relationships profit, trade association or advocacy group.
with them? 2. Have a data plan. Before you begin a CRM
It’s possible and feasible if you have the right strategy, determine where your data is go-
tools. Relationship management wasn’t designed to ing to come from, where you plan to store
waste your time. Rather, it was developed to make it, and how you are going to use it. In other



a. Get data. about selling a candidate.” It’s about re-

b. Remember data. sponding to your constituents’ needs. Your
organization, office, or campaign can do this
c. Use data.
in a timely way by automating some of your
Get it all on paper, and then stick by your communications. For example, when some-
plan. As Ian Koski writes in Chapter 8, a data one donates on your website, your CRM pro-
plan is “critical for ensuring the database you gram should immediately generate a thank
build will support your CRM activities, such you email.
as recruiting and managing volunteers, do-
7. Build a fish ladder. As a political organiza-
nors, and supporters.” But don’t stop there.
tion, campaign, or non-profit, you probably
Make reporting data a priority. Include it in
want your constituents to do something.
your data plan, and follow through.
Use your relationship management program
3. Divided data falls apart. Old thinking puts to cultivate them and ask them to take an ac-
the data you collect about your volunteers in tion. In Chapter 18, Aaron Welch compares
one spot and the data you collect about your this process to building a fish latter: just as
donors in another. Old thinking stores your salmon swim up human-made dams “one
data on your PC. Instead, store your data step at a time,” so your campaign should in-
in one, secure, online place, where you and tegrate on- and offline CRM efforts to move
your staff can access it from down the hall, people up the ladder of engagement and ac-
in field, or across the country. This helps you tivism.
develop what the corporate world calls “a
8. Listen. Building relationships isn’t just
single view” of the constituent. You’ll then
about talking. It’s also about listening. Jason
know who they are, when they volunteered,
Zanon writes in Chapter 12 that “It’s still all
and how much they donate at the click of a
about the people.” Listen to what your con-
button, instead of people in three different
stituents say and, if necessary, change the
departments sending out emails to people
way you talk back to them.
requesting information.
9. Guard your data with all your heart and soul.
4. Integrate everything. All the tools you use
In Chapter 10, Chris Massicotte writes that
– your website, email, blog, donation pro-
“good data requires constant activity.” Im-
gram, text campaign, etc – should be inte-
proving and refining your database is some-
grated into your CRM system. You want your
thing that occurs every day. It’s not some-
database to include everything you do to
thing that you do for a month, and then walk
interact with your constituents. Integration
away from, expecting your CRM system to
keeps your data “clean and updated,” ac-
work its magic without you. Keep your da-
cording to Laura S. Quinn in Chapter 14. Oh,
tabase up to date. Designate the right per-
and don’t forget that integration doesn’t end
son (or people) for the job, and make sure
on the website. The interactions you have
that the information is secure. As Jonathan
with your constituents in real-life situations,
Karush writes in Chapter 10, “Personal in-
such as events, dinners, fundraisers, office
formation has become a real commodity in
visits, or phone calls, are just as important
the Internet age. If you want to run an ethical
and should be included in your database.
campaign, then treat your data carefully.”
5. Personalize your interactions with constitu-
10. Good CRM doesn’t end on Election Day.
ents. Political messages that are broadcast-
Many congressional offices already use CRM
ed to one general “American” audience are
to manage constituent communications.
giving way to micro-targeted communica-
According to Stuart Shapiro in Chapter 22,
tions. If you want someone to listen, then
listening to your constituents is what de-
talk about him or her. As Benjamin Katz
mocracy is all about. Stuart gives it a name:
writes in Chapter 5, “if you have more direct
“Interactive Democracy.” He sees it as a dy-
communication, then you can avoid wasting
namic way to reengage the American public
money on pointless communication.”
in the legislative process.
6. Customize and automate it. A database
is just a database until you customize it
with tools and applications. Your database 11. Remember what you’re selling. As Jeff Mas-
should fit your needs as an organization, not cott writes in Chapter 2 and Chapter 22, you
the other way around. It should make your are selling a candidate or an elected official.
life easier, not more difficult. This is particu- You aren’t even selling the name of your
larly true when it comes to using your CRM nonprofit organization or political party.
system to generate email. As Jeff Mascott You are selling ideas, issues, and services.
writes in Chapter 2, “Good service isn’t just That’s why every interaction you have with
constituents counts: Jeff writes that good



service “is about identifying each customer

or constituent, deciphering his or her needs,
and serving him or her in as many ways as

12. Don’t over estimate the value of mass so-

licitations. They probably don’t work as ef-
fectively as you think they do. In fact, mass
solicitations may backfire. As Jon Thorsen
comments in Chapter 16, “some recipients,
no matter how considerate they are, will feel
that their time is being wasted by something
they don’t care about.” Jon recommends
conducting multiple targeted campaigns si-

13. Ask the experts. Don’t know where to start?

Ask one of our authors. They’re the experts.
We’ve included their biographies in the back,
as well as information about each of their or-
ganizations in each chapter. When in doubt,
just contact the Institute. You can reach us
at Ipdi@ipdi.org.






An Introduction to Constituent
Relationship Management
You probably already have a database, and you probably already use it to
help you generate communications with your constituents – things like email or
direct mail. This section isn’t designed to tell you that databases are important.
Rather, the authors in this section want to challenge the way you think about
your database – and for that matter, the way you think about the entries in your
database, your constituents.
This section draws heavily upon lessons from the corporate world, where
relationship management developed in the 1990s. Our authors don’t want to
preach to you: they want to show why the business world changed, what differ-
ence it has made, and how you can adopt some their practices for your political
activities – whether you run a campaign, a congressional office, or a nonprofit



CHAPTER 1 ential books about commercial marketing of the past

century, The One to One Future, began to take shape.
The book made Peppers and Rogers two of the most
well-known CRM gurus in the country.
Relationship @ The Center for American Progress
(www.americanprogress.org) is a
Management: progressive think-tank that uses
policy papers, talking points,
How Smart publications, and events to shape
the national debate.
Business Equals
Winning Politics Something else changed in the early ‘90s. For
many businesses, the economic environment be-
came much more challenging. Up until the recession
of 1990-92, consultancies such as Andersen Consult-
PETER CHURCHILL ing3 viewed outperforming competitors as little more
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS than business as usual. But the changes predicted by
Peppers and Roger meant that the traditional busi-
nesses were about to face such intense competition
To succeed in the future, organizations will need that the traditional formulas for success would be
to better understand what customers want. To rendered obsolete. If their businesses were to con-
counter the decline of mass media as a vehicle for tinue to achieve the results expected of them in the
effective advertising, communications organiza- future, they would need to “compete in new ways,
tions are moving quickly to embrace CRM with new skills, to satisfy ever changing customer de-
- Lawrence Handen, author of Constituent mands.”4
Relationship Management This quote should sound eerily familiar to the po-
litical audience of this book. In recent times, where
the power of incumbency and redistricting have often
severely reduced the number of competitive races, it
History of CRM has been all too easy for well-financed incumbents to
In early 1990, Don Peppers, who was to become stroll to an easy win. But just as new technologies
one of the leading authorities on customer-focused redefined the business environment ten years ago, so
marketing, gave a speech to the Advertising Club of the world of politicking is entering a new era of de-
Toledo about the future of marketing. Although this clining national media, a rapid increase in the use of
was before the Internet as we know it had emerged, new technology, and the ability of ‘people-powered’
Peppers had already come to the conclusion that the campaigns to match and even outspend their well-
new communications and information technologies financed rivals.
being developed in Silicon Valley would “eliminate Finally, the release of Netscape Navigator in Oc-
the underlying basis for mass marketing.”1 tober 1994 as the first modern Web browser able to
By the end of the speech, Martha Rogers, a pro- graphically represent information on the World Wide
fessor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, not Web meant that a new means of communicating, the
only recognized a kindred spirit, but also concluded Internet, would bring a new set of opportunities and
that what Peppers was describing was something she challenges to existing companies. Suddenly, people
had recently been predicting: the emergence of to- were no longer limited to their local mall or the mag-
tally individualized media, enabling people to receive azines they received to research and purchase new
customized news and entertainment, a development products. Anyone with access to the Internet could
that would require companies to engage in two-way get the information enabling them to compare two
dialogues and employ totally individualized market- or more companies’ products, and find the best deal
ing.2 regardless of where they were physically located, and
The concept of Customer Relationship Manage- make a purchase the way they wanted and on their
ment (CRM) had arrived, and one of the most influ- own time. Consequently, customers would have a
“greater influence over a company, its brand and pric-
1 Don Peppers and Martha Rogers Ph.D., The One
to One Future (New York: Doubelday, 1993) Pref- 3 Tom Siebel, Virtual Selling (New York: The Free
ace, i. Press, 1996), 1.
2 Ibid., xiv. 4 Ibid.



ing, than at any time in the past.”5

Replace the word
The Theory of Customer Relationship Management “customer” with the words
If companies were to adapt to the changes in “voter” or “constituent.”
mass advertising and the emergence of personal-
ized media, Peppers and Rogers reasoned that these
companies would have to radically change the way Fundamentally, in the political sphere, replace the
they marketed their products. It would no longer be word the “customer” with the words “voter” or “con-
sufficient to create a new product and then try to stituent.” In the world of campaigning, for example,
create the largest possible market share possible. In- the ultimate aim of any election is to persuade the
stead, companies would need to focus their efforts voter to choose your “product” and not your oppo-
on “share of customer.” nent’s “product.” But what is the product we are try-
The principle of CRM is simply this: the focus on ing to persuade our voter to choose?
the customer, not the product. In political terms, this When I have asked people the question, “If a voter
translates into “focus on the constituent (or voter), not is a customer, what is the product they are buying?”
the candidate.” For a company to succeed, it needs to many people respond without hesitation, “the can-
identify each individual customer, assess his or her didate.” Considering the media coverage, this is per-
needs as a consumer and aim to sell him or her as haps not surprising. For many, the 2004 Presidential
much of the company’s products as possible.6 But Election seemed for the most part to be a popular-
to achieve this paradigm shift requires a company ity contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry
to alter its business strategy to become an organiza- as personalities, rather than a choice between their
tion that understands, anticipates, and manages the positions on the issues considered important by the
needs of its current and potential customers.7 voters. In this celebrity-obsessed era, candidates are
The organization that successfully adopts such viewed as just another commodity that uses constant
a strategy leapfrogs ahead of an organization that television advertising to reinforce its brand. But is
continues to use traditional mass-media marketing this really an accurate comparison?
techniques. In particular, an organization that is able Bruce Newman’s 1992 book, The Marketing of
to target specific customers by aligning what each the President, seeks to make a different analogy. In
customer needs with the products the company has his view, the idea that choosing a candidate can be
to offer should be able to: compared to choosing a bar of soap is nothing more
than a “myth” made popular by a press corps that
“minimizes the uniqueness of the marketing applica-
• Reduce the cost of wasted advertising to un- tion to politics.”8 Instead, looking at the 1992 presi-
interested individuals. dential campaign, Newman makes a more complex
• Prevent overspending on low-value clients argument about the application of marketing tech-
or under-spending on high value ones. niques to presidential races, one that is worth revisit-
• Improve the use of the “customer channel,” ing here.
thus making the most of each contact with In Newman’s opinion, the candidate should be
the customer. seen as a “service provider [who] offers a service to
• Make it easier to track effectiveness of a his consumers, the voters, much in the same way that
given campaign, since each response can be an insurance agent offers a service to his consum-
individually tracked and recorded. ers.”9 The service in question is the campaign plat-
form. Newman argues that comparing the marketing
of services with politics is more applicable because
But Is CRM a Political Strategy? services have unique characteristics that products do
Can the principles of moving from a product-cen- not possess. They are:
tric to a customer-centric world be made applicable
to political campaigns? To answer that question we
need to first determine who exactly the “customer” is • Intangible
in the political world, and what is the “product” they • Variable, depending on the service provider
are buying. • Perishable, since they only exists for a finite
time and cannot be stored
• Inseparable, i.e. you can't separate service
from the provider
5 Institute of Direct Marketing, The IDM Guide to
CRM Mastery (London: Institute of Direct Mar-
keting, July 2002), 7. 8 Bruce I Newman, The Marketing of the President
6 Peppers and Rogers, The One to One Future, 35. (California: Sage Publications Inc.,1994), 9.
7 Brown, Customer Relationship Management, xix. 9 Ibid.



you do not first listen. And after all, isn’t being heard
Thus, from Newman's perspective of the cam- exactly what we as voters want in the first place?
paign platform as the product, the campaign's role The most notable example of a campaign that
is to ensure that research and polling shape the plat- sought to create a two-way conversation with the
form to the voters’ preferences and use the candi- voters was Howard Dean’s campaign for the 2004
date's physical presence, experience and record in Democratic presidential nomination. More than any
office to reinforce the overall impression created in other campaign before, they used technologies such
the mind of the voter. So when a person votes, New- as blogs and the social networking abilities of web-
man argues, he or she is not choosing a particular sites like MeetUp.com to attempt to build a genuine
politician but rather making a choice about which two way relationship with the voters. Although neces-
candidate's positions on certain issues most reflect sity may have dictated this approach (the campaign
his or her own. lacked the resources to build an infrastructure to rival
In an age of special interest groups and the so- anything that candidates like John Kerry had in place),
called “Culture Wars,” people are increasingly likely it owed more to Joe Trippi’s belief in the power of the
to vote based on their position on a few issues, rather Internet to create a new kind of political community.
than their loyalty to a particular party. If the campaign It was a deliberate strategy to “decentralize the
platform is the product, then it is surely true that a campaign…and let the momentum and decision
campaign needs to work out which issues are impor- making come from the people.”10 Although Dean’s
tant to each individual voter, identify their concerns campaign ultimately failed, he demonstrated that if
and then seek to persuade them to “buy” as much of people to feel part of a campaign and have a stake in
the campaign’s platform as possible. And, as noted that campaign, it will yield results. The relationship
earlier, when people are buying a service – any ser- with the voters that his campaign fostered greatly
vice – the Internet has made it easier than ever to enhanced the amount of time and money that was
compare the features they consider important about donated to the campaign compared with those who
a product and determine which best satisfies their chose to pursue the more traditional approach to
needs. campaigns.

Defining the Customer-Centric Organization

In an age of special interest As interest about CRM increased in the late
groups and the so-called 1990s, many companies wanted to demonstrate they
“Culture Wars,” people are were ready to embrace a customer-centric world. But
instead of acknowledging that far reaching changes
increasingly likely to vote would be required to take advantage of this new busi-
based on their position on ness paradigm, they sought out CRM software ven-
a few issues, rather than dors who promised fast results. As one CRM strate-
gist put it, “There is a very strong tendency in the
their loyalty to a particular world of senior management to let CRM sexiness get
party. in the way of clear corporate business processes and
methodology.”11 But companies soon found out that
unless they were willing to alter their core business
Campaigns, of course, have already been taking processes, any new CRM system ended up replicat-
this approach to some degree. A basic campaign ing their current, outdated methods.
strategy often dictates that you must first determine In retail finance, for instance, most banks at the
which voters are most likely to vote for you, and then start of the 1990s were still organized along product
construct your campaign’s platform around those lines. If you went into the bank, you were often seen
voters. Some might argue that this is not a healthy by different people depending on whether you wanted
model for defining the issues of government, prefer- a checking account, a mortgage, life insurance, or ad-
ring candidates to follow a more traditional model of vice about savings and investments. Any data stored
defining their positions and then seeking to persuade on your transactions with the organization were kept
enough people of the merits of those positions to win in that product area’s silo of data, separate from the
the election. other products in the system. If a new product was
But it seems to me that political campaigns take launched, the marketing team was tasked with selling
this approach because they are having to adapt to a that one product to as many people as possible. But
new type of electorate, one that expect to be treated in the new world of 1:1 marketing, those financial in-
like individuals, not faceless, unquestioning followers.
Consumers – and thus voters – are used to marketers 10 Joe Trippi, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
approaching them in a way that echoes that Peppers (New York: ReganBooks, 2004), 82.
and Rogers’ vision of what has come to be called “1:1 11 Paul Greenberg, CRM at the Speed of Light (Berk-
marketing” in everyday life. You cannot market 1:1 if ley: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2002), 85.



stitutions required customer focused managers who

would aim to sell each individual as many products Every action a campaign
as possible, not staff dedicated to selling only one takes must be in support
If that model seems normal now, it is because
of its relationship with the
the competitive pressures described by Peppers and voter, regardless of whether
Rogers led to customers’ having greatly increased it is the campaign manager
expectations about what the banks and financial in- dealing with a press
stitutions could offer them. When you deal with a
mortgage advisor, customers now expect them to
inquiry, the accountant
know what other kinds of business they currently do querying a donation or
with that institution, and be able to recommend suit- a volunteer handing out
able products that will compliment it. If they the cus- signs.
tomer leaves that experience with a positive view of
the company and its products, the customer might
be more willing to read a marketing brochure about Most campaigns lack the time, money and conti-
other products. nuity to implement a corporate-style assessment of
Tom Siebel, who created one of the largest CRM how they operate. However, a good campaign man-
software companies, Siebel Systems, had no doubt ager should still be able to take a look at any process-
that a company must change the way it interacted es used by the campaign – such as how the campaign
with customers before it could reap any benefits from interacts with a new volunteer or how it fulfills a re-
his software: “If the fundamental task of the corpora- quest for a sign – and evaluate them based on three
tion is to sell, then the customer is the ultimate arbi- criteria:
ter of the company’s success. Given that, it follows
that every action the company takes and every deci-
sion it makes must be in support of the relationship 1. How important is that process to the cam-
with that customer.”12 Notice the emphasis on rela- paign?
tionships – not ad buys or television appearances or 2. Is it effective – i.e. does it make sense to do
direct mail pieces. it that way and does it add to the likelihood
of getting more money/volunteers/votes?
Creating the Constituent-Centric Political Organiza- 3. Is it efficient – i.e. is the process being
tion done properly in terms of speed, output or
Political campaigns are no different. Most people
who vote for a candidate will never actually meet that
candidate. At best, they may attend a rally where the Take, for example, a yard sign. In itself, fulfilling a
candidate appears for a short time to speak. But request for a sign may not be considered the highest
many more people will come into contact with the priority for a campaign, especially if we compare the
campaign itself, whether as a donor, as an attendee time taken to fulfill it with the value of the staff’s time
at an event, or when a volunteer comes to their door to make persuasion phone calls or to go out canvass-
to canvass them. Just as Tom Siebel said that every ing. But if we also consider the effectiveness of the
action a company takes must be in support of its re- process, we can make a more considered judgment.
lationship with the customer, so must every action a The request can come from many places - a page on
campaign takes be in support of its relationship with the website, from someone who is canvassed, or per-
the voter, regardless of whether it is the campaign haps as a response to an acknowledgement email for
manager dealing with a press inquiry, the accoun- a donation. Each of these interactions with the po-
tant querying a donation or a volunteer handing out tential voter tells us more about their intentions with
signs. regard voting (they seem to be a strong supporter)
and could also lead to us recruiting them as a volun-
teer, a repeat donor or at least a strong supporter in
their area. The reverse is also true - by failing to ful-
fill their request, the campaign could be losing valu-
able support and money. Finally, a properly designed
CRM platform, with all of the supporter informa-
tion in once place should be able to ensure that the
campaign staff can quickly find the correct address
information for that supporter from the canvass or

13 Michael Gentle, CRM Project Management Hand-

12 Siebel, Virtual Selling, 237. book (London: Kogan Page Ltd, 2003), 39-40.



Take-Away: What about Targeting?

“Targeting: the process of determining which voters you need for victory and identifying them as effi-
ciently as possible.
Hal Malchow, author of The New Political Targeting”

Targeting can take many forms, from targeting an advertising campaign to a certain audience, to seg-
menting the most valuable customers who are worthy of greater attention, to isolating those who are the
least valuable. While this sounds harsh, determining that someone is not persuadable is a good way to
conserve resources – especially for a national organization or campaign.
This need to target is one area of the CRM process that political campaigns have generally already ab-
sorbed. With limited resources and time, it has always been imperative that campaigns know how to focus
their resources on the right voters. As Ron Faucheux succinctly puts it, “The idea is to use your resources
where they will do the most good… use those precious resources on voters who need to be convinced.”
For Faucheux, effective targeting is vital to ensuring that a campaign uses its resources efficiently and dis-
seminates its message effectively, without which a campaign will not be victorious.
Even in the past when voter history data was only available from the party as a paper report, campaign
managers and their field staff sought to identify which precincts and wards were strongly for their party,
or swing areas or strongly supportive of their opponent. As further advances in technology made accurate
telephone polling cheaper, campaigns were able to identify segments of voters who were open or hostile
to a candidate’s message, and target them accordingly with direct mail, radio and television advertising.
Hal Malchow makes this same argument about the need to focus resources in his book, The New Politi-
cal Targeting. In his view, often only ten percent of the electorate is persuadable and will actually vote come
for your candidate on Election Day. But Malchow argues that most modern campaigns have failed to adopt
recent developments in targeting techniques used by commercial marketing firms. As a result, they do a
poor job of finding those voters, mainly because the political establishment now relies too heavily on data
gathered by pollsters for performing accurate contact targeting. In his view, while polling data is extremely
important in shaping the campaign’s message, it is poorly suited to contact targeting, since the small
sample size and time constraints of a 500 person poll mean it is not possible to gain an accurate picture of
the sub-groups. Moreover, it is difficult to incorporate into the survey results crucial targeting information
such as voter history, which can then be compared with voter list files and updated as necessary.
Malchow lists three developments that he considers fixtures of modern commercial targeting solu-
tions, and his solution is simple:
• Collect more data.
• Conduct better analysis and measurement, and
• Be accountable.

Of these, he feels the political world has only progressed in the area of data collection, which while
necessary, is of limited value without the other two developments. If your campaign, nonprofit, office, or
advocacy group is only doing the first task – collecting data – then you may be wasting your most valuable
Malchow’s advice on targeting is valuable. But by itself, it is not enough. But coming full circle around
to the topic of CRM, even if the political campaign does put in place all three elements he describes, it
doesn’t necessarily make them voter-centric.
For more information, check out: Hal Malchow. The New Political Targeting (Washington, DC: Cam-
paigns and Elections Magazine, 2003).



donation record, identify a campaign person who

lives nearby and dispatch the sign with the minimum
of effort, thus radically altering the evaluation of the
process of fulfilling a sign.
By thinking in these terms, a campaign should
be able continually to ask itself whether the way it is
operating operates is really as a voter-focused cam-
paign, either in terms of involving the voters, improv-
ing the campaign’s knowledge about the electorate,
or delivering votes on Election Day. Just as in busi-
ness, campaigns are often fighting the current cam-
paign just as they fought their previous campaigns,
and as such, get stuck in the practice of doing things
because “that is the way they have always been done,”
rather than because that is the most effective or ef-
ficient way to use the new techniques or technology
that have become available.
As a starting point, any good technology solution
in political campaigns should have a few core fea-

• There will only be ONE repository of cus-

tomer and product data. Not lots of sepa-
rate lists.
• Access for all who need it. Everyone in the
organization must be able to access the data
when they need it, whether they are in the
office, at an event, or at the voter’s front
door - if possible, this will include being able
to easily synchronize your data with porta-
ble data devices, such as handheld Personal
Data Appliances (PDAs).
• Correct information. All communications
must be attached to the correct contact re-
• Ability to contain all kinds of interactions
– not just online interactions. The voter
should be able to communicate with the
campaign using their preferred method, e.g.
mail, email, Website, phone. All these inter-
actions should be tracked in the CRM sys-
• Every communication channel must be inte-
grated with the central database, including
donation systems and volunteer sign ups on
the website.
• Ability to be studied. This data will be stored
to enable voters to be profiled, segmented
and targeted.14

14 Brown, Customer Relationship Management, xii.



CHAPTER 2 – information about people and the many ways you

communicate with them. It is not about selling some-
thing: it is about identifying each constituent, assess-
ing needs, and attempting to communicate with each
Putting Ideas into individual in as many appropriate ways as possible. In
other words, it’s about relationships. Not the sales-
Action: man and certainly not a sales pitch.
Do you look at your supporters, members, or do-
Principles and nors as customers? Or do you see them as an ATM
– something you use to raise a few dollars or earn
a few votes. Maybe it is time to change the way you
Applications look at your base of support. After all, the title of this
publication isn’t “data management.” It’s constitu-
of Constituent ent relationship management. Relationship manage-
ment puts the customer in the center. It treats the
Relationship customer like an individual and attempts to meet his
or her needs in an individual way.

Management Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to

be. Small changes in the way you think about your
“customers” may in fact have a tremendous im-
pact on your organization. This chapter is not about
JEFF MASCOTT AND KEN WARD persuading you to buy something. We want you to
ADFERO GROUP change your thinking. Collecting all the data in the
world about your supporters won’t make a single dif-
ference if they are nothing more to you than automat-
JULIE BARKO GERMANY ic cash (or vote) machines. What does make a differ-
INSTITUTE FOR POLITICS, DEMOCRACY & ence? Cultivating relationships with your supporters
as if they were individual customers and managing
your interactions with those individual customers.
Stop. Think. Sure, relationship management is a way of doing
Constituent Relationship Management is not things, but it’s not something that you can’t get your
software. It does not occur when you buy a software hands around. We don’t want the idea of relationship
program in your local office supply store and load it management to scare you away from using it. In fact,
onto one or two office computers. You can’t build it we think that making five small changes in the way
and forget about it. you manage your customers can make a big differ-
Rather, relationship management is intangible. ence.
It’s not like a CD or a spreadsheet printout. It is a phi-
losophy and a way of doing business – especially the Principle 1: Make Customer Interaction Accessible.
business of politics. And by politics, we’re not limit-
ing ourselves to elected office or political campaigns. You aren’t just a politico. You are a customer. Like
Issue advocacy groups, trade associations, non prof- us, you probably buy at least one thing a day – wheth-
its, lobbyists all have much to gain from adapting the er it’s office supplies or groceries or a newspaper or a
principles of corporate relationship management. Metro ticket. We don’t have to tell you what custom-
ers like you want – you probably already know it. In
The business of politics is the business of people fact, you probably have dozens of ideas about how to
and building relationships. Relationship management improve the products and services that you already
(or CRM – constituent relationship management – as buy.
we call it in this publication) is about how you mange
interactions. Those interactions can be with your What do you and I want as customers? Something
supporters, donors, voters, the media, Hill staffers, easy to use. Something personalized to your needs,
bloggers, or your own staff. like picking out a tomato that will be just-ripe-enough
for a salad you plan to make tomorrow evening or a
What makes a relationship management system new car with just the right features, colors, and fab-
valuable? If you answered “my candidate” or “my rics. Something that offers real benefits – perhaps a
elected official” or “my issue,” then you’re thinking clean bathtub or glossy hair.
in old forms. If you answered “the amount of data I
have about each person,” then you’re halfway there, But how are companies supposed to know what
but you’re still thinking in old terms. kind of tomatoes I like or how to build my dream car
if they don’t ask? How is your organization, office, or
Relationships matter, and a CRM program be- campaign supposed to know what your constituents
comes valuable because of what you put into it want if you don’t ask them? Once you ask them, how



do you store that knowledge for later use? How much of your big donors. George signed up to receive more
is all this going to cost? information about your campaign at the registration
CRM helps you understand, anticipate, and re- table. Pre-CRM, George probably signed up on a
spond to your customers needs in an efficient and clipboard or a card. It might have taken days or even
consistent way. A good CRM system helps you learn weeks for your campaign volunteers to add his infor-
what makes your supporters tick, and it helps you re- mation into your database and even longer to send a
spond to their needs – and incorporate their needs thank you message. One month later you get around
– into what you do. It makes customer interaction to sending George a communication – an email ask-
accessible by using the best communication meth- ing him to “donate now.” What are the chances that
od for each customer. For example, it keeps track George will donate to your campaign one month
of the best way to communicate with customers, later, with very little follow-up and a month after the
whether by phone, email, or in person. Do you get initial thrill of hearing your candidate speak has worn
a better response by calling them personally on their off.
cell phones at work or in the evening on their home With CRM, the scenario changes. One of your
phones? Or perhaps they respond best by seeking campaign staffers was manning the registration
you out, through updates on your Website. Maybe table and typed George’s information immediately
they even respond best to instant messages or text into your database on a wired laptop computer. She
messages. noticed that George was already in the database. He
The two keywords are automation and integra- signed up two months ago to receive a yard sign,
tion. Your CRM system should be automated so that which he hasn’t yet received. Your staffer immediate-
it helps you respond when your customers contact ly thanks him for coming and tells him that she will
you and it should be integrated to include all inter- have a yard sign waiting for him to pick up after the
actions (phone calls, face-to-face meetings, email, dinner. She also checks off a box on the database to
sign-up forms on your Website) – not just those that note that George received his sign.
occur online. The next day, your CRM system sends a thank you
Let’s imagine that you want to call the person email to everyone who attended the event, including
who handles your investments. Your daughter has George – an email you actually wrote and approved a
big plans for a study abroad program at college next week and a half ago – directing them to check out the
semester, and you want to move some of your invest- Web video of the event on your Website. A month lat-
ments around in order to help pay for her trip. Un- er, you follow-up with all your event attendees again,
fortunately, you can’t reach the person who normally asking them to consider hosting a house party for
handles your portfolio. He’s on family leave for an your candidate. George volunteers, and the system
extended period of time. What do you do? immediately sends him a thank you message with
further instructions and sends a reminder for you
Before CRM, investment banking firms like yours
to send him a snail mail package including a DVD,
relied on various salespeople to develop relation-
paper materials, and donation forms for his house
ships with clients. It sounds great doesn’t it? It’s nice
to have a relationship with the person handling your
money. But what happens when that person is un- CRM has allowed you to slowly develop a relation-
available? Leave a message and wait for him or her ship with George, integrating online and offline com-
to return your call in a few days? Talk to someone munication without wasting a lot of time.
who knows nothing about you, your account, or your
needs? That doesn’t sound too helpful. Principle 2 – Know Your Customers.
A CRM system takes all those notes about you We like to be understood and have our needs met.
scribbled on sheets of paper or on personal comput- You probably feel the same way, and you’re probably
ers and stores them in one place. All the many sepa- willing to talk about what you want – if only someone
rate “islands” of information merge into one. Other would ask you. Your customers are no different.
salespeople are able to access your client information
CRM helps you recognize what your customers
to help you. That’s integration at work.
are looking for in a political candidate, elected offi-
How does this work in the political space? If cial, trade association, or non-profit and better de-
you’ve ever held a fundraising event, then you know velop your services. You didn’t think your campaign
how important it is to follow-up with your attendees. or office offered services, did you? Chances are good
It is also incredibly time consuming. CRM can help in- that you offer some kind of service – sending bumper
tegrate your online and offline interactions with event stickers to people who sign up to receive them, man-
attendees and automate some of your response. aging constituent requests for a tour of the Capitol
Last week, for example, George Russell attended or a quick passport renewal, lobbying for issues your
your $200 a plate fundraising dinner as a guest of one members care about, etc.
Being able to answer “why” your customers ask
you for something, whether it is voting for a bill or



sending them an American flag flown over the Capi- eral hundreds others – calls your office to express her
tol, as well as “what” they ask you for allows you to opinion. Luckily, the staffer answering the phones
react to your customers more effectively. This works today has access to your CRM program. When Gail
on both a macro and a micro level. For example, CRM calls, your staffer enters her name into the system
allows you to measure every interaction you have with and notices that Gail called the last time a farm issue
people. Every point of contact can be tagged, so that arose. Your staffer thanks Gail for calling, gives her a
you can personalize communications. Surveys can quick update on the last issue – the bill passed – and
help you track preferences and learn about people. asks if she would like to sign up to receive an email
Collecting this type of data has become incred- about the results of the vote tomorrow. The staffer
ibly popular in politics over the course of the past few checks one box, and tomorrow, minutes after the bill
years. Most of us in the political space know that a passes, your system generates an email to Gail, tell-
database or a member list is a valuable commodity. ing her that the bill she supported passed.
Collecting this information is the first step. Storing
that information in one central hub, where staff can Principle 3 – Deliver Good Service.
access the bits of information they need, even if they
If you’re like us, you probably go to the same dry
are on the road or in the field, is the second step. Us-
cleaner every week. Maybe you tried a few places
ing it to personalize communications with your cus-
when you first moved in until you found the right dry
tomers and shape the way you serve them is the third
cleaner. What keeps you coming back? Is it the fact
that the owner greets you by name? Or that the shop
We talk about this third step later on. Right now, always seems to get your stains out – even when they
let’s focus on what the corporate world calls “devel- seem impossible? Do they send you thank you cards
oping a single view of the customer,” or in this case, during the holiday season?
the constituent.
Delivering good quality service helps retain cus-
To use an example from the corporate world, tomers. After all, isn’t good service the reason why
the Dow Jones Newswires, which provide real-time you keep returning to that same dry cleaner! When
financial news, wanted its sales team to have real- it comes to the political space, good service has to
time access to account information. The Newswires be efficient. Despite the medium of communication
continuously received a variety of information from – online, over the telephone, in person, by fax – you
dozens of different directions, and it needed to store need a time-conserving process that will improve
that information in one central hub. They thought be- “customer” relations and reduce support costs.
ing able to access clients and track their needs would
How does a political group deliver good service?
lead to a more effective sales team, so they imple-
Let’s start with what good service in the political
mented a CRM system that allowed them to store cli-
space actually is. Good service isn’t just about selling
ent information in one place and access all aspects of
a candidate, an elected official, or an issue. It is about
an account simultaneously. This made preparing for
identifying each customer or constituent, decipher-
client meetings or answering questions easier, and
ing his or her needs, and serving him or her in as
it allowed customer service professionals to sound
many ways (and through as many mediums) as pos-
more authoritative.15
If someone like the Dow Jones Newswires thinks
Imagine if after school tutoring programs worked
it is important to develop a single view of its custom-
the same way your campaign or office does. Instead
ers, how important is it to develop a single view of
of greeting each student by name, the tutor addresses
your customers – your constituents? Let’s look at the
all of them as a group. “Hello, group,” she says, “To-
average congressional office. Everybody is juggling at
day I want to talk to you about earth sciences.” What
least a half dozen different issues or tasks – espe-
if your child doesn’t need help with earth sciences?
cially when an important vote nears. And, amidst all
What if he really needs help with algebra? What if he
the hurry and deadlines and work, now of all times is
isn’t even studying earth sciences this year? At then
when the voters back home call to voice their opin-
end of the month, your son has spent hours complet-
ions. You’re tired. You’re multitasking. You never
ing tutoring assignments in reading, earth sciences,
seem to have enough staff. You feel like you don’t
French, and GRE preparation, but no algebra. His
have time to address every caller like you live down
grades haven’t improved, and you haven’t received
the street from them back home. What do you do?
any feedback about your son. Last time you talked to
A CRM system helps you handle the “clutter.” So your son’s tutor, she told you that she was very proud
when the big issues hit – and the calls keep coming of the progress the group made this month and that
in – you don’t have to struggle to find information. the group had read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
It’s all there. Tomorrow, for example, your boss is on its own.
voting on relief for orange farmers after this winter’s
This example seems a little over-simplified, but
big freeze in California. Gail Simmons – one of sev-
the principle is the same. You want your son’s tutor to
address him (and you) by name, design tutoring cur-
15 Salesforce.com



ricula that meets his needs, update you on his prog- Principle 4 – Build Your Business.
ress, and – most importantly – improve his grades in Maintaining customers is important to any orga-
class. We could take this metaphor one step further. nization, but in order to grow, an organization needs
With a CRM system, your child’s tutor would file re- to attract new clients – or in the political world, new
ports every evening in one central hub, so if she is supporters.
sick or cannot make a meeting, another tutor can fill
CRM can identify new “selling” opportunities by
in for her and know exactly what to do with your son.
helping you understand what people value and how
It can also make preparing for meetings with you a
they interact with you. The applications to politics are
lot easier. It simplifies the reporting process, allowing
apparent: you want to reach people by appealing to
the tutor to spend more time with your child.
their interests through the medium that best suits
The same type of thinking can be duplicated in them. Knowing more about people in your district,
elected office. Bernard Smith is planning a trip to Ire- likely donors, potential members, or likely voters im-
land for his 30th anniversary. Bernard plans on taking proves the quality of your communications with them,
his whole family, so he made sure that his entire fam- opening new paths for “customer development” and
ily applied for passports. Two weeks before the trip, retention. The idea is to use the data you collect to
everyone except Bernard’s youngest daughter, Lucy, build new relationships with people.
received a passport – and the passport office has no
Car dealerships do this all the time, even if they
information whatsoever about it.
don’t call it CRM. They often rely on in-bound calls
Bernard calls his congressman’s office. The staffer or queries on their Websites to generate leads. For
answers the phone and asks Bernard how he wants example, if you are in the market for a new car, and
to receive the information release form for an expe- you call the local dealership inquiring about an ad
dited passport – by fax, by email, or simply by logging you saw in the local paper, the salesperson you talk
on to the Congressman’s Website. After the staffer to is probably collecting information about. Are you
works to fulfill Bernard’s request, she calls him on his male or female? What are you looking for in a car?
cell phone at work to let him know that Lucy’s pass- What is a good time for you to visit the dealership?
port is on the way. Later that day, the CRM program Do you know how to get to the dealership? What is
queues an email to be sent that day to Bernard, mak- your phone number? Do you have a second number?
ing sure that there was no problem. Enclosed was an What is the best way to reach you? If the dealership is
additional list of services that the office provides. The smart, it will have the salesperson enter all of this in-
office’s CRM system has been set up so that after formation about you in its database. Later, the sales-
passport casework request is finished, the system is person you meet will use this information to help
prompted to schedule a follow-up call to confirm by sell you a new car. But it doesn’t stop there. Often,
phone that the passport has arrived. Three days later, the dealership manager will look at data from all the
after Bernard called the office, the staffer calls – just incoming calls to determine trends – such as which
to make sure that Lucy’s passport arrived. models or which deals are generating the most atten-
In three months, when Bernard calls to voice his tion and adjust its marketing program if necessary.
opinion about an important piece of legislation, the What do car dealerships and trade associations
staffer who answers the phone pulls up his constitu- have in common? A lot – especially when it comes
ent record and notices that Bernard called months to gaining members and customers. The Association
ago to ask for a passport for his family trip to Ireland. of Small Business Owners (ASBO) runs an annual
After Bernard tells her why he supports the legisla- membership drive. The ASBO uses its core base of
tion, she asks him if his trip went well. The constitu- members and staff to visit small businesses across
ent – Bernard – is at the center. In addition to receiv- the country and share information with the owners
ing the passport, the follow-up call and inquiry about about the ASBO. Five years ago, the ASBO sent vol-
his trip months later shows that Bernard is impor- unteers and staff into the field with a stack of bro-
tant. chures and a few talking points. Every small business
Delivering good service does not begin and end in they visited received the same message, regardless of
Washington, D.C. There is a disconnect in the politi- the size, type, or needs or the organization – or the
cal world between congressional offices in Washing- personality of the business owner!
ton, D.C. and their district staff. This can negatively Today, the ASBO is using a relationship manage-
affect the overall wellness of an elected official’s re- ment system that allows its volunteer force to access
lationship with his or her constituents. Viewing the information about each lead before they visit, all from
constituent as a customer is overlooked, and infor- the ease of their home or office computers. It also
mation about constituent relations is not available to prompts its volunteers with talking points and print-
both sides. Because most CRM programs are hosted able materials geared toward the type and size of busi-
online, you can assign tasks between offices and ness they are about it visit. At the end of each visit,
schedule follow-up. the volunteer logs back into the relationship manage-
ment system and updates it with details about the
conversation, such as which aspects of membership



the small business owner liked the most, which is- Compare the world of Time Warner Media to
sues she cared about, and the best way to reach her the world of the Congressional office. Each Legisla-
with more information. The system then generates tive Assistant (LA) looks ahead to the rapid push of
a response with more information, along with a link bills that pass every year immediately preceding the
to the membership page of the Website, with the August recess. Each of those bills can generate hun-
volunteer’s signature. Or it prompts association staff dreds of constituent communications – email, faxes,
to follow-up with a phone call or piece of snail mail. phone calls, etc. – responding to all of those commu-
When the small business owner signs up as a mem- nications seems impossible.
ber, she immediately receives a thank you response Congressional offices are designed to respond to
from the associations, as well as a quick note from constituent communications in a pre-email world.
the volunteer who recruited her, and an invitation Both the systems they have in place to respond to
to the next event. The ASBO uses the information it email and the technology they use is from another
gathers each year about small business owners want era. Changes in the way incoming communications
to shape its activities and future membership drives. are handled can cut the response time in half, using
a fewer number of resources. With fewer resources
Principle 5 – Plan Ahead. in play on a regular basis, the office can focus more
time on proactive outreach, using all the data collect-
Data without action is useless. The purpose of all
ed about constituents.
the data collected in a CRM system is to reach out
proactively. With a good CRM system, what used to Of course, CRM doesn’t end with the act of col-
be an annoying phone call from a constituent about lecting information. It’s not just what you know that
the vote on tomorrow’s farm bill or the state of the matters: it’s how you use it. The Legislative Assistant
roads in his town becomes an opportunity to learn can use a CRM system to set up “rules.” In other
about and reach out to others. This is a lesson that words, it tells the system to immediately generate an
the business world has known for years. If you think email thanking a voter for her opinion on the issue of
that good customer service is just a gimmick, think roads and telling her that the office will update her as
again. Business development, like politics, revolves soon as the vote occurs. After the vote, the system
around strategy. If you’re using CRM as a quick fix immediately generates a pre-written, pre-approved
strategy, then you’re probably too late to do any email to all 18,500 people who email in support of
good. CRM is a long-term philosophy about the pro- roads. That’s 18,500 emails on the busiest day of they
cess of doing politics that has the ability to affect your year.
bottom line, if you use it well. That is, if you view it
as a flexible tool that helps you create room for your Conclusion
organization, campaign, or office to grow. For many
We’ve used many examples draw from the cor-
of us, a long-term political strategy is identifying your
porate world in this chapter. It’s no secret that the
voters, donors, or members and giving them a way to
corporate world has been evolving over the course
vote, donate, or join you.
of the past decade to become more focused on one
Before you purchase a CRM system, step back. person: the consumer. In an era when “You” is Time
Take a good look at your campaign, office, or trade Magazine’s person of the year, and companies are
association. How do you want your organization to spending fortunes on surveys to find out what con-
run in an ideal world? How would you change your sumers really want, as well as YouTube tactics on and
current way of doing things? How are you organized? off the web to attract new customers, perhaps the
What is the culture of your group? How can you build political world needs to adjust to a new way of doing
an “ideal” you? business in America. “More about me” is what peo-
Time Warner Cable, a giant in the media indus- ple have come to expect, and it’s what they are doing
try, realized a few years ago that even a company as on blogs, in Web videos, during shopping trips, and
big as Time Warner needed a long-term strategy to through their media consumption habits.
improve the quality of its product. Time Warner took Perhaps it is time for the political world to be
time to evaluate what the company need and where more about the voter – the only individual who, at the
it was going. Salesforce.com, the CRM solution they end of the day, makes a difference between whether
turned to, reported that after it implemented a CRM you stay in office or return home. It’s not about a
system with its services, Time Warner condensed the series of quick fixes to conceal the fact that, at the
work of every two full-time employees into one. Time end of the day, we’re all too busy to care about what
Warner’s productivity increased five to ten percent our constituents think. Rather, it’s about construct-
within the first year of using a CRM system, with an- ing meaningful interactions with your supporters,
other twenty percent increase expected for the year. the type of conversations in which you both learn a
The average time period to complete a survey shrunk little more about each other. But it doesn’t have to
from seven days to two, and employees evolved from cost you an office building packed with full-time staff,
working harder to working smarter.



thousands of hours a week, or a billion-dollar budget.

CRM makes the business of building and maintain-
ing relationships with your supporters more efficient,
and more effective.
It’s not about the data. It’s how you use it.






The Data-Powered Campaign

Political operatives have always been interested in any tool that helps them
track voters and donors. Until recently, they’ve stockpiled that information in
a way that would make an unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge proud. However, like
Scrooge’s moneybags, all the data in the world can’t help you if it just lies around
collecting dust.
This chapter gives data and constituent relationship management a definite
context: the world of political campaigns, where every element must have a
practical purpose. The authors in this chapter write about some of their best
ideas, tools, and case studies for putting all that data your field team collects on
its door-to-door canvassing excursions into practice.



CHAPTER 3 “One benefit of a well-prepared data dictionary is a con-

sistency between data items across different tables. For
example, several tables may hold telephone numbers;
using a data dictionary the format of this telephone
It’s the Data, number field will be consistent…Data dictionaries are
more precise than glossaries (terms and definitions) be-
Stupid! cause they frequently have one or more representations
of how data is structured.”

This needs to be agreed on as early as possible in

PETER CHURCHILL the process of capturing, collating and then import-
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ing the data. The CRM solution being used may en-
force some of these rules, but if those rules are deter-
At the heart of targeting is a database of voters. How mined early on, it will ensure that any data received
well you can target depends upon the quality of your or captured can be analyzed and processed to fit the
data and your skills at analyzing it. need of the database without creating errors further
down the road. A key example of this is when data is
- Hal Malchow, author of The New Political Targeting
being captured by third party systems e.g. donation
systems, or volunteer sign-up forms. It is critical that
Data sits at the core of all customer relationship the data is captured in such a way that it matches
management systems. It is the data that makes it what is already in the voter database, so the cam-
possible for an organization not only to build better paign can immediately identify that person.
relations with an individual customer, but to identify Finally, several commercial companies exist that
relationships between different customers and, ulti- will clean the data. Although this can seem expensive
mately, to target its resources in the most effective at first sight (60 cents an address is typical), it will
and efficient way. However, many organizations still save considerable time and money in ensuring that
fail to understand the value of accurate data, despite any mailings will have the correct addresses, reduc-
an endless supply of studies that identifies the failure ing returned mailings and producing more success-
to properly manage the data acquisition and migra- ful first time mail deliveries.
tion as the primary reason for project failures in the
corporate sector.16
All too often the implementation a CRM system
is considered to be a failure because the successful What is the voter file?
implementation of the software exposes the poor
quality of the data being stored in the organization’s The term “voter file” refers to a list of all the
existing system(s) - data that is usually referred to as registered voters in a geographical area. States
“legacy data.” Cleaning, matching and de-duplicating are required to compile this information accord-
data is a painstaking task, worthy of its own publi- ing to the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The voter
cation. It is often hard to convince an organization file typically includes the following information
that has just spent millions on software that they first on each voter:
need to put it back on the shelf and clean up their • Name
existing data. The desire for more immediate, tan-
gible results is always more compelling, if ultimately • Address
misguided. All too often you hear the argument that • Birthday
people will clean it up once it is in the new system. • Political Party
But they rarely ever do, and people quickly lose faith • Date of voter registration
in the CRM solution because they don’t trust the data
they are looking at. Bad data won’t get you very far. • Voter history.
One way of addressing this problem is to define For more information on the Help America
a basic “data dictionary.” The principle of a data dic- Vote Act, visit http://www.fec.gov/hava/hava.
tionary is to define what each field in the database htm.
is for and what format it will be stored and captured
The issues around data are crucial for the suc-
cessful ongoing operations of a political campaign,
since any issues with the initial data will be amplified
as the campaign seeks to use the data for more com-
16 Gentle, The CRM Project Management Hand- plex purposes, such as mailings and targeting.
book”, 13. In summary, Hal Malchow offers a useful check-
17 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_dictionary



list to any campaign when considering its data strat- of undecided voters, the effective cost of the mailing
egy:18 is now only $1.43, since fewer pieces of mail are need
to reach those voters.
1. Determine which data will be most valuable However, there are clearly drawbacks to this ap-
for this campaign – race, religion, education, proach. No mailing will be one hundred percent ac-
etc. curate, so if the profiling is incorrect, there is a risk
of never reaching the voters needed to win. Malchow
2. Determine how clean the list is.
offers various suggestions on how to improve the
3. Educate your users as to what data is avail- quality of the targeting. In particular, he advocates
able so they know how to use it in the most CHAID – a tool that is used widely in the commercial
effective way. sector to identify which demographics will respond
4. Enhance the list with commercially available best to a mailing or phone call. Unlike normal polling,
data, such as census figures and so-called Chi Square Automatic Interaction Detector (CHAID)
lifestyle data like magazine subscriptions uses surveys that query large samples of voters but
that will build on point #1. only asks them one or two profile questions. This
data is then appended back into an existing data-
base. Statistical models are then used to determine
Making the Data Work for You which attributes in the database are most effective
Early on, some of the best organizations in the for identifying the groups the campaign needs to
corporate world recognized that CRM should not only win. Although Malchow discusses the use of CHAID
lead to an increase in sales, but could also save them to enhance mailing lists, it is clear that this method-
money as well: “[I]t is often overlooked that CRM can ology could be expanded to give every voter in the
also generate very significant cost savings in the form CRM system a score based on the CHAID analysis.
of the most effective (i.e. right) and more efficient Those scores could include propensity to donate, vol-
– two characteristics that have very direct political unteer, vote in a primary and actually vote on Election
implications (i.e. speedier processes).”19 Day. Just as corporations seek to focus on their most
Let’s use direct mail as our first example of how profitable customers and avoid wasting money on
this process works. According to Democratic direct the least profitable, so techniques such as these will
marketer Hal Malchow, the efficiency of direct mail assist a campaign in identifying similarly “profitable”
is best described as how economically a candidate voters.
is able to reach those groups of voters that make up
the winning coalition.20 The higher the percentage When campaigns become door-to-door salesmen
of targeted voters on the mailing lists that are being
used to raise donations or persuade undecided vot- This leads to a second example where techniques
ers, the more efficient the mailing is said to be. Let’s in the corporate world have been replicated success-
say, as an example, that a campaign decides that the fully by political campaigns. Just as a sales person’s
most effective way to persuade undecided voters is time is best served by focusing on their most valuable
via a direct mail piece. The only way to be sure that customers, so in the political world, the techniques
the campaign reaches all undecided voters is to mail described above ensure those identified as most im-
every voter in the voting area. But this clearly entails portant are focused on by the field team. In Winning
a huge waste of resources to reach perhaps only ten Elections, Lorene Durgin argues that because each
percent of the electorate. So the more accurately the candidate has a limited amount of time to maximize
campaign determines which voters in it database are their exposure to the electorate, a campaign must try
undecided voters, the less mail it has to send to reach to target the most appropriate voters when doing any
that ten percent of the electorate, and the more ef- form of door-to-door canvassing.22 If the campaign
ficient the mailing will be. has a sophisticated CRM system in place that can be
segmented using data captured in a CHAID analysis,
The savings to a campaign can be considerable, it can begin to identify those voters who would be
as Malchow explains.21 If a persuasion piece of mail most persuaded by canvassing from the candidate
costs 50 cents, but only 25 percent of the undecided and/or a regular field canvasser.
voters are reached, the effective cost to reach each
undecided voter is $2. Using data profiling the list The system, using pre-determined database rules
can be segmented more effectively to reduce the based on geography and available volunteers and
amount of mail needed to reach that same group of skills, would allocate the voter addresses to individu-
people. If the same mailing now reaches 43 percent al field workers and volunteers. The CRM system pro-
duces the information, either in paper format or elec-
tronically if the staff has access to Personal Digital
18 Malchow, The New Political Targeting, 235.
19 Gentle, CRM Project Management Handbook, 41. 22 Lorene Hanley Duquin, Winning Elections ed. Ron
20 Malchow, The New Political Targeting, 13. Faucheux (New York: M Evans and Company
21 Ibid., 12. Inc.,2003), 449.



Assistants such as IPAQs or PalmPilots. The people the relationship with that customer…But how can you
visiting can capture the same information – in effect reconcile the need for more and more information
an even more in depth door-to-door CHAID analy- on an individual customer with that customer’s likely
sis. With electronic devices they can also validate the desire to preserve his or her own privacy?”23
information currently stored in the central system, One solution is to adopt the techniques used by
capture missing information such as email and cell “Permission Marketers,” who advocate that all con-
phone numbers, and ideally capture what issues each tact positive and welcome. Particularly with respect
member of the ousehold visited is most concerned to the most intrusive contacts, e.g., calling a voter’s
about. cell phone, the people should have explicitly opted to
When canvassing is complete, the staff returns to receive communication from the campaign, and they
the field office and either enters in the information must always be able to easily and quickly request that
they have captured to the central system or, prefer- the campaign stops any communications with them.
ably, synchronize data they have captured in their When people sign up for email lists on a website, this
PDAs. The campaign can then not only use the data is relatively easy – the website just needs to ensure
to test their current assumptions about the voter pro- that people are aware they will receive emails as a
files, they can also ensure that people who have been result of signing up, and can always opt out at any
visited automatically receive a follow up letter from time.
the candidate based on the responses the field staffer
received, thus beginning the process of building a re-
lationship between the campaign and the voters. All
this data can then be fed back into the central data- Can I Buy Data from a
base to not only further refine the profiling that the
campaign can perform, but using workflow rules, it Company?
can ensure that those who have offered to volunteer
to help the campaign in some way can then be allo- Yes. Many private sector companies have the
cated to a campaign staffer to be contacted. ability to enhance the data used by campaigns in
The scenarios described above will become much ways that the political parties, for legal and prac-
more common in the 2006 and 2008 elections cycle. tical reasons, do not. For instance, a for-profit
broker could offer an advocacy group a subset
of its data at a discount in return for extra infor-
Data Privacy mation the group in question gathers as part of
Campaigns and advocacy organizations must its ongoing operation. The broker could then ap-
consider not only the ethical and increasingly legal pend this information to its main data set, and
responsibilities that the capture and management of then sell this enhanced data to a candidate for a
data entails, but also the extent to which the use of fee.
this data risks alienating the very people a campaign
is trying to build a relationship with. Most people are
not aware of how much data about them is publicly The possibilities that modern communications
available. When the Institute for Politics, Democracy now offer make the issues of permission marketing
& the Internet (IPDI) mailed people a survey last year increasingly complex to monitor. As an example, SMS,
asking about their political donation practices, sev- or text messaging via cell phones is one technology
eral people challenged where IPDI had obtained their that is likely to play an ever larger role in contacting
data from, even though the survey packet clearly said voters for fundraising and mobilization. Although
their name was taken from the publicly available FEC America has been slow to adopt mobile technology
register. While these voters had donated to a cam- when compared with Europe or Asia, the U.S. is rap-
paign, they had no idea this data was then publicly idly catching up. The recent immigration protests
available. Similarly, many people would find the idea in major U.S. cities were often coordinated by text
that a campaign knew which newspaper they sub- messaging. Companies such as Mobile Accord are
scribed to be unsettling, even invasive. offering campaigns the ability to not only use SMS to
For political campaigns, sophisticated data profil- coordinate people for rallies and meetings, but also
ing is still rarely used, and only by the largest cam- to receive campaign donations using SMS short code
paigns. But like polling before it, it is becoming more technology.
readily available to smaller campaigns, and they will This will present situations for a campaign that
need to understand the implications of capturing and few will have previously encountered, and they must
using this data. look to industry for guidance. As an example, I pre-
The dilemma of capturing personal data without sented the following scenario to Dan Weaver at Mo-
upsetting the people being targeted was acknowl- bile Accord:
edged by Peppers and Rogers: “Every dialogue with
a customer is an opportunity to build the scope of 23 Peppers and Rogers, The One to One Future,



The political CRM vendors I talked with agreed

Two candidates are running in a primary that although they would continue to make enhance-
race, and candidate B encourages people ments to their core system, they would mostly look
to sign up to receive text messages from his to the commercial sector to enable customers to fully
campaign. However, Candidate A wins the exploit features such as email and text messaging.
primary. If Candidate B endorses candidate Although they can deliver the core email functionality
A for the general election, can he now “give” relatively easily, the complexity involved in ensuring
Candidate A that text message list, so Can- that email is CAN-SPAM compliant and can navigate
didate A can now also send text messages the ISP filters makes partnering with firms that pro-
to those people? Or is the agreement only vide these services and functionalities mutually ben-
relevant to Candidate B? eficial to the vendors, and ensures the campaigns get
the best solutions.
Many of these tools will assist a campaign in
His response was that the Mobile Marketing As-
working more effectively and more efficiently. But
sociation’s (MMA) Best Practices Guidelines state
to really build a relationship with the voters, a cam-
that any opt-ins to Candidate B’s race pertain only to
paign needs to get them involved. Some techniques
that candidate and should not be used to promote
have increased the voter sense of involvement. For
any other products unless an opt-in has been ob-
example, one emerging technology that is proving ef-
tained from the subscriber to receive this informa-
fective is offering new ways to host volunteer phone
tion. In his view, if Candidate A wanted to possess
Candidate B’s list of mobile numbers and control the
messages that are sent (rather than just have Candi-
date B send messages on his behalf) then Candidate
B would first have to ask permission of all the people To really build a
on the list. This could take place via a simple SMS relationship with the
opt-in, i.e. “I endorse Candidate A. If you would like
to receive important information via SMS about Can- voters, a campaign needs
didate A’s campaign reply with ‘Y’, which could then to get them involved
be appended to any list Candidate A already had.24
As Seth Godin said wrote in a piece about Permis-
sion Marketing, “As new forms of media develop and Previously, hosting a volunteer phone bank re-
clutter becomes ever more intense, it’s the asset of quired a large space, such as the office of an organi-
permission that will generate profits for marketers.”25 zation with enough space and available phone lines
The key is to always ensure that people have opted for the volunteers. The volunteers had to travel to
in to your communications, and therefore your cam- that specific location, wherever it was, and a cam-
paign. paign staffer had to be on hand to provide call lists
and scripts and ensure that any data captured was en-
tered back into any database after the phone bank’s
An Ever Expanding Range of Options completion.
Many of the other innovations that are becoming One alternative to this method is what @dvo-
available to campaigns will not be built by the CRM cacy Inc. describes as their Phone Bank in a Box™
system vendors themselves. Just as the corporate system. It is the size of a large suitcase and requires
world now focuses far more on integrating their ex- only a single high speed Internet connection to host
isting CRM systems with other systems that deliver the phone bank. Using Voice over IP (VoIP) Technol-
specialized functionality, many of the new tools in ogy (the same technology used by companies such
political campaigns will be separate ones delivered as Skype and Vonage), the Phone Bank in a Box can
by third party vendors that are then closely integrated create ten or twenty phones lines that are available
with the core system. The model of how this might for volunteers to use, at a fraction of the cost of tra-
operate in the future in the corporate world is provid- ditional phone installation. Because it can be set up
ed by Salesforce.com. They have recently launched anywhere, the phone banking can occur at locations
AppExchange, designed to allow third party vendors more convenient for the volunteers, such as some-
to build additional functionality that will seamlessly one’s home. Furthermore, it should soon be possible
integrate with a customer’s current Salesforce.com to configure the phone bank to access a campaign’s
implementation. CRM system, so that it can directly make use of a
campaign’s existing targeting data and ensure that
24 Dan Weaver, < dweaver@mobileaccord.com>, all data updates are made directly into the CRM sys-
Personal Email, Apr 19, 2006. tem.
25 Seth Godin, Managing Customer Relationships A second method of phone banking that is proving
eds. , Don Peppers and Martha Rogers Ph.D.
(Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons Inc, 2004), popular is “virtual phone banking.” This also makes
222. use of VoIP technology, but rather than setting up an



entire phone bank in someone’s house, an individual • By continuing to capture data about voters
is simply allocated a list of names which they can call concerns, you can enhance the voter pro-
from their home computer. The advantage of this is files.
that it can be done by people wherever they are geo- • By eliminating individuals known to be in
graphically located, and enables people to volunteer opposition, you can reduce the cost of mail-
who could not travel to a help at a phone bank – e.g. ings and outreach.
someone with children who couldn’t leave them at
home, but could make calls once they have gone to
bed. Everything Blaemire describes as necessary to
maintain this infrastructure is part of a CRM solu-
Examples such as these will become more com-
tion. Furthermore, companies such as NGP Software
mon in the next election cycles, especially as CRM
provide an “off year” service to enable campaigns to
vendors partner with more specialized technology
maintain their data in one place at a reduced cost.28
firms and enable campaigns to extract the maximum
Such companies, in partnership with other compa-
value not just from their data, but from their volun-
nies providing data service, can also maintain the
teers and staff.
quality of the data by matching it against current voter
files so when the campaign team is reconstituted, it
The Era of the Permanent Campaign is able to quickly ramp up. Furthermore, as Blaemire
Why is CRM so important? Blame it on the current observes, it “sends a message that the candidate is
campaign season. With congressional campaigns oc- serious about keeping his or her job” to anyone look-
curring every two years and the need to raise money ing to challenge them in a forthcoming primary or
more important than ever, it has become necessary general election.29
for many elected officials to run what Bob Blaemire
describes as the “Permanent Campaign.”26 Like the Conclusion
corporate world, a campaign must continue to mar-
Political campaigns have begun to understand
ket to its customers – the constituents and voters
the changes predicted by Peppers and Rogers and
– to ensure they continue to buy their “product” in
begun to adapt their processes and systems to fit this
the future. However, unlike the corporate world, the
new world of 1:1 marketing and individualized me-
campaign has one significant restriction. Data from
dia. Howard Dean’s campaign is considered by some
the campaign cannot be used by the elected official
to have been a watershed by changing the way cam-
in office, nor can data captured about constituents
paigns interact with their supporters. Meanwhile,
in the course of executing their official duties be later
the rapidly changing world of communications tech-
used in a campaign. As such, the model of achieving
nologies unleashed by the Internet revolution of the
sales through excellent service – a core tenet of the
1990s makes it ever harder for a campaign to resist
CRM process – is not available to a campaign.
the voters’ demands to play a more active role in po-
This is not to say that an elected official should litical campaigns. Finally, political CRM vendors have
not employ CRM principles to ensure good gover- moved rapidly to ensure that they are no longer trail-
nance – quite the opposite. If constituents receive an ing behind the corporate sector, especially as they
excellent level of service from their elected officials it partner with other specialized corporate vendors.
will surely benefit their re-election efforts and make
But just as political campaigns still rely on televi-
government more effective and efficient. It should be
sion advertising when the corporate world is moving
noted, within the scope of this chapter, it is extremely
increasingly to online advertising, so it will take time
difficult to apply those CRM processes that utilize
for campaign staffers familiar with the CRM tools
data captured from servicing the constituent/cus-
available to move into more senior positions where
tomer to increase knowledge of that voter/customer.
they are able to demand that these tools are properly
However, it is not only possible but recommended utilized. The corporate world has taken many years
that a campaign continues to maintain a relationship to fully implement genuinely customer focused orga-
with the voters, separate and apart from any official nizations, and it will take time for the political world
outreach. Blaemire offers three reasons for maintain- to catch up. Just as customer expectations forced
ing a Permanent Campaign:27 companies to adopt CRM, so voters will increasingly
expect the same from their politicians, public officials
• By continuing to grow the database of do- and advocacy organizations.
nors, it may be possible to raise money ear-
lier in the campaign cycle.

26 Bob Blaemire, Winning Elections ed. Ron Faucheux 28 Nathaniel Pearlman, President, NGP Software.
(New York: M Evans and Company Inc.,2003), Interview at NGP Software, Washington D.C., 25
144-6. April 2006.
27 Blaemire, Winning Elections, 145. 29 Blaemire, Winning Elections, 145.




@ CMDI provides donor manage-

ment, data processing, and
Understanding NCOALink processing solutions for
nonprofit and corporate clients. For
Constituent more information, visit
Motivation: The
Benefits of Effective Each communication with the constituent pro-
vides the campaign with an opportunity to learn
more about the individual in an unobtrusive way. By
CRM inserting checkboxes into direct mail pieces, out-
bound emails, or online registrations, the campaign
can establish which issues, coalitions, or volunteer
JOCELYN BOWMAN capacities most interest the constituents. Tracking
CMDI these preferences consistently across departments is
crucial to running targeted campaigns.
Every campaign needs to understand what mo- Conducting a survey of the constituent base is an
tivates its donor base, what issues are most impor- excellent way to understand what motivates constitu-
tant to its constituents, and how to best connect with ents. Storing these responses provides a wealth of
those whose personal beliefs align with its candidate. information that can be tapped into across multiple
How can a campaign connect with its constituents in departments. Well-constructed questions can range
a meaningful way? Talk to them. Listen to them. Use from political issues and demographics, to questions
the information provided by them to form a strategy about organizations the constituent supports finan-
for future contact. In other words, implement Con- cially. Insights into the constituent’s everyday life can
stituent Relationship Management. not only be helpful for tailoring a constituent mail
Interaction with a constituent spans multiple piece for maximum impact, but it can also be useful
channels within a campaign from email and website for identifying lists which the campaign can rent for
activity to direct mail and telemarketing. Storing future donor acquisition efforts.
information gathered by each point of contact in a The more connected a constituent feels to a can-
single, user-friendly environment allows details about didate’s platform, the more likely he or she will do-
the constituent to be available across departments. nate money to or volunteer time for the campaign.
All conversations with staff members should be Encouraging constituent involvement becomes
logged into the database, creating a personal contact much more effective when lists can be strategically
history for each individual, tracking the frequency of segmented according to individual interest. Using
contact, past responses to solicitations, and topics of CRM as a basis for the strategy is essential when ral-
interest which may be helpful in future interactions. lying the support of constituents.
Create filters that track constituent preferences.
Flag a volunteer’s file with activities they are willing
to conduct on behalf of the candidate, from get-out-
the-vote campaigns to working the polls on Election
Day. File flags can also assist in merchandise fulfill-
ment, such as selecting those who have requested
bumper stickers or yard signs. Not only can filters
track preferences of volunteer activity, they limit cor-
respondence frequency and solicitation type, as re-
quested by the constituent. This simple use of data
management practices saves campaign staff from
receiving angry phone calls from potentially-valuable
Another level of filtering can be used to segment
the file into specific issue-related or demographic
groups. Religion, age, ethnicity, as well as interest in
issues articulated by the constituents can be vital for
the campaign, especially if the campaign constructs
specific messages for those within the targeted



CHAPTER 5 standing of the individual customers, mean-

ing the ability to capture and evaluate infor-
mation about the customer.
3. Remembering. – For a relationship with a
Get a Clue! customer to continue and grow over time,
the employees of a business need to be able
The Dawn of CRM to recall information about the customer
when interacting with the customer in the
in Politics 4.
Personalization. – Finally, after interacting,
learning about, and remembering informa-
tion about individual customers, businesses
BOBBY CLARK needs to treat each customer as an indi-
PROGRESSNOW ACTION vidual by serving the customer’s individual
preferences in the way the business deliv-
ered products or services, as well as how the
Back to Business
business interacts with the customer in the
Customer Relationship Management was an future.
earth-shattering concept to me when I first learned
about it in early 1999. As an Internet entrepreneur,
I was passionate about the promise the Internet of- In their book, Enterprise One to One, Peppers and
fered to create greater connection between people Rogers provided case studies of businesses that used
and the organizations and businesses that served CRM. They showed that by implementing new tech-
them. The concept of CRM provided a methodology nologies and shifting focus to individual customers,
for businesses to fulfill that promise. businesses could make more money, creating a com-
pelling business case for the shift to CRM.
Inertia is a difficult thing to overcome, even when
money is involved. The CRM movement needed a
@ ProgressNow Action is a state-
based advocacy network that began
in Colorado and now has created
push, and a few months after Enterprise One to One
was published, Chris Locke, Doc Searls, and David
Weinberger provided that push with their Cluetrain
a national grassroots network. Manifesto.
For more information, visit www. Cluetrain was a collection of 95 theses about the
ProgressNowAction.org. new realities of business in a new, radically connected
world. It was an unmitigated condemnation of busi-
nesses that had failed to grasp the significance of the
As briefly noted earlier in this publication, two Internet.
businesses consultants and authors, Don Peppers
and Martha Rogers, probably did more to define CRM
than anyone else. CRM, as they described it, means
capitalizing on the interactive age brought on by the For More Information
Internet and developing more personalized relation-
ships with customers. This occurs by implementing a ENTERPRISE ONE TO ONE
few key capabilities: By Don Peppers and Martha Rogers

1. Interaction with customers. – The “relation- CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO

ship” is the key part of CRM, and it implies By Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls,
two-way communication – the opportunity and David Weinberger
for customers to provide feedback and the
capability of the business to listen to that
feedback. This concept is hard for many of With the obvious reference to Martin Luther’s
us in the political sphere to digest. The Inter- original 95 theses, the Cluetrain authors seem to
net provides new opportunities to interact have intended their work to be more a call for revo-
with customers through the Web and email, lution than a business treatise. The Internet had en-
but we also need to take greater advantage abled “a powerful global conversation,” they wrote,
of telephone and other contacts with cus- and the consumers empowered by the conversation
tomers. would punish the businesses that didn’t adapt to the
2. Learning about customers. – A relationship new reality.
also requires the ability to have an under- Cluetrain recognized the power-shift created



by the Internet. It fueled a conversation about that One of my favorite examples of that mass listen-
power-shift that commanded the attention of the ing occurred in August, 2003. We were completing
business world. And it created a focal point for a what we referred to as the “Sleepless Summer Tour,”
continuing movement of people passionate about a series of large rallies around the country, with an
the power-shift and determined to make sure that it event in New York at Bryant Park. Ten thousand peo-
changed everything. ple gathered in the park to hear Governor Dean speak
at 10:00 p.m.
CRM makes its way to the political world – lessons We had also been conducting an online fundrais-
from the Dean campaign ing campaign during the Sleepless Summer Tour,
After several years working with Internet startups, with a goal of raising $1 million. The thermometer for
fate intervened in 2002, and I found myself headed the campaign, as with all our online campaigns, was
to Vermont to help start Howard Dean’s presidential a large bat held by a baseball player. As we moved
campaign. The Dean campaign served as the Clu- toward the goal, the bat would fill up with red.
etrain Manifesto of politics. Most of the web team from the Vermont head-
Like Cluetrain, the Dean campaign was a wake-up quarters traveled to New York to help with the event,
call to the political establishment. And it was a rally- and everyone was connected to the Internet through
ing cry for people who had felt disconnected from, the public Wi-Fi system in the park. Someone read
and ignored by, the political establishment. In hind- a great idea posted by one of our supporters on our
sight, however, it would be an overstatement to say blog. We were nearing the goal of $1 million, and the
that we implemented all the capabilities needed to supporter suggested that if we reached that goal be-
achieve a “business world” CRM model. fore the Governor took the stage at 10:00 p.m., then
he should walk on the stage with a red bat in his
A. Interacting hands.
The first capability needed for CRM, interactivity, Our webmaster, Nicco Mele, called Joe Trippi on
was perhaps our most notable achievement. It is fair his cell phone to share that idea. Trippi was on the
to say that the Dean campaign was the most interac- bus with Governor Dean heading to the park from
tive presidential campaign in history. the airport. Trippi loved the idea, and he stopped the
bus and sent an intern out into the city with the order
We were the first presidential campaign to launch to find a red bat and meet everyone at Bryant Park
a blog, which we designed in such a way that anyone before 10:00 p.m.
could post a comment without creating an account
and logging in. We wanted to promote an open and In the final few minutes before 10:00 p.m., we
honest public dialogue about the campaign, and the reached the goal of $1 million, and the intern ran
blog served as the focal point for that conversation. into the park in time to hand a red bat to Governor
The blog was a place where our supporters could Dean. The Governor took the stage with a red bat in
share criticisms, success stories, and ideas for the his hand, and the bloggers, who were watching the
campaign. event streamed on the Internet, were thrilled to see
that one of their ideas had just been made a reality by
The blog wasn’t the only tool that Dean support- the campaign.
ers used to communicate with the campaign. We
had a team of volunteers who read and responded
to emails. We had regular conference calls with lead- B. Learning and Remembering
ers of our local Meetups and house party organizers. Learning and remembering is a function of man-
And we developed applications for the Web that en- aging data. From a CRM perspective, the Dean cam-
abled Dean supporters to interact online with each paign did not manage data particularly well.
other and with the campaign.
Foremost in a CRM model is the imperative of
Most importantly, we worked hard to ensure that employing a single database that is connected to
Dean supporters knew that the staff heard them every application used to interact with constituents.
when they communicated with us. Our goal was to Entire companies, like Siebel and ePiphany, have
have a “mass listening” capability that would recog- focused on creating that capability for the business
nize and reward input from Dean supporters. world. There is no such equivalent in the non-profit
or political world.
The companies serving the business world are too
Our goal was to have a expensive for non-profits or campaigns. And many
companies that service the non-profit and political
“mass listening” capability world do not always provide complete solutions.
that would recognize and Two approaches to CRM do not work, and sad-
reward input from Dean ly, many companies in the political space fall short.
supporters. First, they have closed systems: the databases they



provide are only open to the applications that they was a question about making a donation. Online do-
also provide. A customer cannot connect other ap- nations should be thought of as an “impulse buy,”
plications to the database directly, and a customer to use a business term. An online donation generally
cannot develop new applications to connect to the is triggered by an immediate, emotional response to
database. Second, they do not provide applications a particular call to action. If a constituent does not
to manage all customer touch points, most notably make a donation within the short window of time in
phone calls and in-bound email. which he or she feels the impulse, then that particu-
lar donation is lost.

Two things to avoid when

Online donations should be
searching for a CRM thought of as an “impulse
solution buy”: if a constituent does
not make a donation within
1. Closed systems – databases that the short window of time
only work with applications provid-
ed by the same company.
in which he or she feels
2. Databases that do not allow you to
the impulse, then that
manage all customer touch points, particular donation is lost.
like phone calls, in-bound email and
face-to-face visits.
When we received a wave of emails in response to
‘ an online fundraiser, it could take a week or more to
On the Dean campaign, we contracted early on respond to those emails. If we received ten thousand
with one of the leading providers of non-profit CRM emails in response to a campaign, we could expect
services and immediately ran into the limitations of at least one thousand of those to be questions about
those companies. making a donation. Assuming an average donation
of just $50, missing out on one thousand donations
The new applications we developed to enable in-
could have meant that the campaign lost $50,000.
teractivity with and among our constituents could
not be connected to our CRM database. As a con- If we had been using a contact center application
sequence, we ultimately created multiple databases to manage in-bound email, as do businesses that
that were not connected to each other in any mean- practice CRM, we could have more easily created
ingful way. processes for prioritizing and responding to emails
regarding donations. Moreover, each inbound email
And we had no database at all to support our
from an existing constituent could have been asso-
phone and email interactions with constituents. That
ciated with his or her constituent record so that we
created a tremendous challenge – especially when it
could keep better track of that constituent’s contacts
came to managing email. Being an interactive cam-
with the campaign.
paign meant that we received an inordinate amount
of email from our supporters – literally thousands of
emails every single day. We had a team of volunteers, C. Personalizing
a group of dozens of retired Vermonters, who sat at In the business world, the ultimate goal is to de-
computers day after day responding to a never-end- liver products and services that meet a consumer’s
ing mountain of email. But we had no way to track individual preferences.
those email conversations.
With a campaign, the product or service is more
One Saturday morning when I came in for work, difficult to define. The most obvious product is the
I entered the elevator at the same time as one of our candidate and his or her campaign platform – the is-
email volunteers – a perpetually cheerful and kind sues he or she espouses during the campaign sea-
retired woman named Martha. Martha seemed un- son. More broadly, the product is also the experience
usually sullen that morning, and I asked her how she that the supporter has interacting with, and engaging
was doing. For the remainder of our elevator ride and in, the campaign.
our walk down the hall to our respective work spaces,
Martha explained what a miserable experience it was Because the Dean campaign was so interactive,
to constantly be digging out from under a mountain and because we listened to Dean supporters and in-
of endless email. vited them to take ownership, it is fair to say that the
Dean campaign necessarily became personalized for
And the problem wasn’t just the pain for our vol- our supporters to a great degree.
unteers. The campaign also suffered. We were also
losing donations. About one out of every ten emails Dean’s evolution as the voice of opposition to the
Iraq war was in part driven by the campaign and in



part a response to the demands of our supporters. but had received yet another email asking them to
The campaign probably would have never uttered a contribute more. And no campaign can afford to di-
word about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if minish the good will it enjoys with its supporters.
we hadn’t had so many early and vocal supporters
who were passionate about that subject. And the
How do you implement CRM on a campaign?
campaign would never have elected to forego public
funding if our supporters had not voted to support At one point in the summer of 2003, Dave Koch-
that decision. beck, the then-current Dean campaign Information
Technology Director, worked with one of the leading
But in many important ways we were unable or
corporate CRM companies on a proposal to use their
unwilling to personalize the campaign to fit a CRM
services. The starting point was $1 million.
For a campaign that will not last beyond an elec-
One of the most significant touch points between
tion, spending $1 million on one part of its IT needs
a campaign and supporters is email from the cam-
is an almost laughable proposition.
paign. And one of the ways the campaign can provide
a personalized experience is to communicate with a Moreover, it would have taken months, and count-
constituent as an individual, informed by the individ- less hours of staff time, to fully implement a true
ual’s personal preferences. CRM system. In the hyper-fast world of campaigns,
that is also a deal-killer.
With regard to email, it is important to note that
many campaigns make the mistake of believing that
they are practicing CRM by segmenting their list and
targeting groups of voters with messages geared Campaigns need to find a
toward that group. Targeting groups of people, by
definition, isn’t CRM. Peppers and Rogers referred
way to deal with the vast
to CRM as “one-to-one marketing” because the ul- and painful challenge
timate goal for businesses is to treat customers in- of managing data and
dividually and not as members of a market segment. creating more personal
To truly employ CRM in a political campaign would
mean treating constituents individually, not as mem- relationships with
bers of a target segment. constituents. And true
CRM will be the solution.

Many campaigns make The only way that a campaign can reasonably
the mistake of believing choose to implement a true CRM system will be to
that they are practicing rent such a system from an application service pro-
CRM by segmenting their vider that has already done a significant amount of
work to create a system that is customized for cam-
list and targeting groups paigns.
of voters with messages Dave’s instinct was right. Like businesses did be-
geared toward that group. fore, campaigns need to find a way to deal with the
Targeting groups of people, vast and painful challenge of managing data and cre-
ating more personal relationships with constituents.
by definition, isn’t CRM. And true CRM will be the solution.

The Dean campaign did not personalize the con-

tent of its emails, even by segmented group. The
campaign decided early on that all of our supporters
would receive the same message from the campaign
when we sent an email, without regard to where they
lived or what issues they cared most about. Joe Trippi,
the campaign manager, believed in a “we’re all in this
together” philosophy, and he argued that a farmer in
Iowa should be as concerned about equality as a gay
man in Boston.
Failing to personalize our email messages created
problems in some cases. On numerous occasions we
received angry emails from donors who had already
contributed the maximum $2,000 to the campaign,



CHAPTER 6 While the Dean campaign was not among the very
first users, they were well ahead of the curve.
Today, Web 2.0 has become mainstream, both
within the political community and society at large.
How Web 2.0 With this greater acceptance comes a growth in
choices and flexibility; for campaigns, there is both
Electrifies Data in huge potential and significant pitfalls.

the Political World Database Management – Web 2.0 Means Sharing

Your Toys
One of the unique qualities of a good campaign
management program is that it requires campaigns
to think in a different way. As Peter Churchill writes in
Chapter 1, instead of having three, four, five or more
different storage silos of information – say, one list
Since the early days of professional campaign of volunteers that your field staff controls, one list of
management, political operatives have been interest- donors that your fundraising staff controls, etc. – the
ed in data management because tracking voters, do- idea is to push all of your data into one central reposi-
nors and opinion leaders has been key to a success- tory. It is one place where, ideally, the campaign can
ful campaign. Early data management “technology” conduct all of its activities: accounting, fundraising,
generally consisted of an alphabetized set of index volunteers and more. All the information gathered
cards. Over the past 10 years, the tools available to from each of these different efforts immediately goes
campaigns have dramatically improved in utility, easy into the central data repository.
of use and accessibility. Most recently, the rise of Many political professionals are used to having
web-based software has revolutionized the campaign their “fiefdoms” – individual databases that are not
world, creating a fundamental shift in the way entire shared with other members of the campaign team.
campaigns are run. No longer does each field office However, this creates huge duplication in data entry
have to be its own island. We can connect volunteers, and information gaps – often one member of the
consultants, campaign headquarters and district of- campaign team will receive new contact information
fices in a way that allows all of us to work together. and because they have their own database, this does
To use one of the new catch-phrases of the Internet, not get shared with other members of the campaign
software has become a service, discussed at length team.
in the next chapter. Web 2.0 makes it all possible.

Many political
@ CompleteCampaigns.com
provides web-based services to
help campaigns effectively track
professionals are used to
having their “fiefdoms”
supporters, voters, fundraising, and – individual databases that
volunteers. For more information, are not shared with other
visit, www.completecampaigns. members of the campaign
team. This creates huge
duplication in data entry
Welcome to Web 2.0 and information gaps
First used by O’Reilly Media in 2004, the term Web Information is not shared
2.0 refers to the growth of web applications, especial- with other members of the
ly those focused on collaboration and user-generated
content. While political campaigns are often chas- campaign team.
ing mainstream technology in many ways, they lead
the movement towards Web 2.0. As early as 1999,
a few campaigns started using online applications Today, with web-based software available, there is
to share information between consultants in differ- no reason not to use a single system for your cam-
ent locations. As Internet access grew and browser paign. It saves you time and money by ensuring
technology improved, campaigns were on the fore- the efficient utilization of your human and financial
front of community-based technology. In early 2003, resources. Your fundraiser should know a donor is
the Dean campaign integrated the community-based also a reliable volunteer. Your treasurer should have
tool, Meetup.com, into their campaign organization. access to the phone numbers the fundraiser entered



for the latest campaign event and your campaign care deeply about – then you cannot lose them. Good
manager should be able to instantly access the most conversations lead to a more effective campaign.
recent campaign financials.
Given the disparate nature of campaigns, online
databases are a critical Web 2.0 tool. Good conversations lead to
a more effective campaign.
When Good Databases Go Bad Data management
While the value of online databases is tremen- enhances the conversations
dous, choosing the wrong vendor can significantly
harm a campaign. Despite the hype of Web 2.0, on- your campaign has with
line tools are fundamentally still just software, and everyone involved in the
poorly programmed tools will still disappoint you. In campaign
evaluating options, campaigns should look carefully
at the flexibility of the software and the ease of use.
Perhaps more critically, inquire into the depth of test- Strangely, much of this Web 2.0 style of commu-
ing (has it survived several campaign cycles or is it nication actually happens offline, talking to voters
fresh out of the gate?) and customer satisfaction. when walking, calling or at events. The key is integra-
tion and facilitating two way conversations.
It all boils down to this: the more information you
Despite the hype of Web have going into one place, the more data the cam-
2.0, online tools are paign compiles. The more data you compile, the
higher quality conversations you can have. Conver-
fundamentally still just sations do not simply refer to communications with
software, and poorly the voter. Data management enhances the conversa-
programmed tools will still tions your campaign has with everyone involved in
the campaign – from the strategy department to the
disappoint you. consultants to the volunteers. This, in turn, allows
the campaign to communicate better with voters.
While the benefits of online tools ensure that
nearly all of these systems exceed the utility of desk- Quality Control – Good Data Doesn’t Just Happen
top software there remains a huge variation in the Data management isn’t about throwing all kinds
quality and functionality of these tools. of dubious, old, or useless information from an un-
trackable number of sources into a large pot. Cam-
Voter Contact in an Online World paigns need to control the entire data process – from
what information they want to collect to who collects
I always thought it somewhat ironic and rather
it and who has access to it.
painful that campaigns send armies of volunteers
and staff walking door-to-door. The canvasser talks This starts with security. For example, you might
to a resident and finds out that, for example, the voter want to give a campaign staffer the ability to enter
really cares about health care. Then the next week, any piece of information in the database, but not edit
during the campaign’s big push for education, the the information fields or change the way you set up
campaign sends that resident an email about educa- the database. Another staffer might be able to edit
tion. The field team and the Web team aren’t talking. the database, but not run reports.
This isn’t the only disconnect in politics. Take the Even more critically, good campaign security
example of direct mail. When the consultants who needs to control access to different types of informa-
create and send all the direct mail for a campaign do tion. The volunteer coordinator needs the unlimited
not talk to the people doing the door-to-door can- ability to enter information and run reports on vol-
vassing, even the most devoted supporter can be- unteers, but she probably does not need to be able
come, well, overwhelmed. I have heard of voters who to see financial information. For larger campaigns,
actually pick up the phone and call the campaign to this can be further supplemented with geographic
say “I said I’m voting for you. Stop sending me all this based access. One person might have access to all
junk mail!” the voters in your database who live in precincts
one through ten, while somebody else has access to
In the end, it comes down to real communication.
eleven to twenty. Even further down you might have
Instead of broadcasting a message at voters, if you
people who only have the access to voters in a given
can have a more directed conversation then you can
avoid wasting money on pointless communication.
When you speak someone’s language – when you Beyond security, quality data requires an active
talk to somebody about the issues that you know they process of data maintenance and updates. When



sending out a broadcast email, it’s important to man- bodies. The FEC, state and local agencies will regu-
age the bounced messages and update or delete in- larly reinterpret and clarify reporting requirements,
valid email addresses either manually or preferably leaving campaigns often with only a few days to ad-
via software tools. A similar process is necessary just their filings to meet these new requirements.
for postal mail and phone numbers. Likewise, any With inflexible desktop software, campaigns are typi-
actively used database will undoubtedly develop du- cally unable to comply. Online tools, when fully sup-
plicate records and manual or automated process to ported, allow for rapid software development to ad-
remove duplicates is a necessity. just for these changing needs, despite the tight time
However, in the Web 2.0 world, you can now al- frame.
low your volunteer, donors and even voters to update Of course, none of these advantages will matter
their own information, providing you with new con- if the software is not properly built. If the tool you
tact information and critical demographic knowledge. are using to generate these reports is not integrated
Obviously, most campaigns have a well deserved fear into your accounting system, and you are not able to
of too much outside access, but properly designed conduct bank reconciliations with it or view an edit
tools can allow you employ outside data entry while log, then there is just no practical way to make a good
preventing data loss. effort at accurate reporting.
A good system, in addition to these features, will
also have tools to aid in the creation of accurate and
Most campaigns have a complete reports. For example, if a donor does not
report his or her employer, a well designed system
well deserved fear of too will warn you before you file. These are the kinds of
much outside access, but missing details that can cause a lot of heartbreak and
properly designed tools can waste a lot of time if they are not addressed as quickly
as possible within the campaign.
allow you employ outside
data entry while preventing
data loss.
We are rapidly departing the time when tradi-
tional software can fully accommodate the needs of
State and FEC Filing – Accounting on the Web today’s campaigns. Just as technology grows, so too
do the expectations of today’s voters. With the de-
Campaign accounting can be a complicated and sire to have a personal connection with campaigns
costly endeavor, if not done properly. Federal and and candidates coupled with a common frustration
state regulations require a campaign’s best efforts to of feeling like a cog in the machine, today’s voters
report accurately. Without proper tools, accountants want a more intense relationship than campaigns us-
should count the days until they are fined. ing desktop software can provide. As we have seen,
The growth of web-based software has been a Web 2.0 addresses these needs full force, as do the
boon to both professional and volunteer campaign software companies that operate on its principles.
treasurers as it has eased the process of generating Properly supported web-based software streamlines
accurate campaign reports quickly. the various challenges campaigns face: targeting con-
The most critical benefit has been via the creation stituents, tracking supporters, running complicated
of integrated databases that allow the accountant to compliance reports, and allowing open accessibility
quickly and easily share information with the rest of to a diverse campaign staff.
the campaign team. This minimizes the amount of More importantly, the revolution of technology
data entry the accountant needs to do, allows the and the simplification of methodology gives cam-
easy farming out of tasks such as getting addresses paigns back one thing they may have lost in the flurry
and occupations and makes it easier for other keys of separate spreadsheets and individual call lists:
staffers, such as the campaign manager, to review fi- time. It gives them time to spend on new campaign
nancials and thus catch mistakes before they become ideas, and new ways to interacting with voters. With
serious. this, web-based software is no longer merely an ac-
Additionally, the growth in online fundraising has cessory to campaigns, rather it becomes a strong
created another time-saver for campaigns, as donors cornerstone in the changing structure of modern
are now responsible for their own data entry. With campaigns.
the proper tools, all of the contributor’s information
can be directly added to the accountant’s records.
Perhaps most critical to political campaign trea-
surers is the ability for online software providers to
rapidly develop and update their software in response
to the changing requirements of various governing



CHAPTER 7 SaaS is like a utility that campaigns can tap to

manage their operations. Campaigns can turn it on
when they need it and turn it off when they do not.
Campaigns can select those applications that meet
Software as a their needs and then tune them to their individual
requirements. Campaigns can add subscriptions as
Service: their races heat up and drop them when the election
is over. As a result, SaaS allows campaigns to stay
nimble during all phases of an election. The private
sector has already broadly adopted SaaS, and as
A Strategic political campaigns begin to realize that technology
increasingly determines winners and losers, they are
Imperative for sure to follow suit.
SaaS solutions are applications that are delivered
Political Campaigns over the Internet. This increasingly popular model
is not a panacea for all of the data problems politi-
cal campaigns face, but it does offer substantial ad-
vantages over traditional software. Because SaaS is
DANIEL BURTON sold on a renewable, per-user subscription basis,
SALESFORCE.COM payments are spread out over time. In addition, be-
cause SaaS is delivered via the Internet, campaigns
Introduction do not have to undertake expensive, time-consuming
The strategic management of data will have a de- deployments or even regular maintenance activities.
cisive impact on the 2008 elections, as political cam-
paigns begin to adopt state-of-the-art technologies
and applications for managing communications and Software as a Service (SaaS) are applications
relationships with voters, donors, volunteers, and delivered over the Internet. Instead of buying a
constituents. piece of software and downloading it onto one
In the last general election, we saw the power of computer, you can access the services you pur-
the Internet as a new and effective grassroots com- chase, such as a database, from any Internet
munication vehicle for reaching out to citizens, mobi- connection, anywhere in the world.
lizing volunteers, and driving contributions. When it
comes to information management, however, most
campaigns still operate as if the Internet does not Most SaaS applications are regularly and auto-
exist. They continue to pay high, up-front fees for matically updated, so campaigns do not have to go
traditional software programs that do not scale and through the painful exercise of updating cumber-
that are difficult to customize, implement, and use. some legacy systems in order to benefit from en-
Moreover, they still have to deal with the headaches hancements and new features. Many of SaaS applica-
of installing, maintaining, and eventually tearing tions were built with familiar consumer Websites like
down large, complex IT infrastructures. Amazon.com and iTunes in mind, providing a prod-
In the upcoming election cycle, campaign man- uct that is easy to use and customize. Volunteers who
agers will be able to deploy powerful new software- use the Internet regularly should need only minimal
as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that eliminate these training to be proficient in these Web-based applica-
problems by essentially allowing them to “rent” en- tions. And because security and privacy are an intrin-
terprise-class applications and IT infrastructure over sic part of the SaaS business model, campaigns face
the Web. These solutions are affordable, scaleable, fewer concerns about data leaks than with traditional
easy-to-use, simple to manage and administer, read- software.
ily customizable, and quickly implemented. These advantages are clearly evident when it
comes to campaign fundraising and event manage-
ment. SaaS solutions allow campaigns to easily track
all aspects of their relationships with individual do-

@ Salesforce.com provides on-

demand applications, like Customer
Relationship Management
nors, including the donor’s contributions, interests,
attendance at events, interactions with campaign
staff, and discussions with candidates. SaaS not only
databases. For more information, allows campaigns to display data about individual
visit www.salesforce.com/ donors, but also to aggregate data into dashboards
publicsector/. that provide a comprehensive overview of fundrais-
ing efforts. Moreover, because SaaS applications are
accessible via any computer with an Internet connec-



tion, campaigns can readily share information among implementing upgrades, many campaigns are forced
relevant staff and volunteers regardless of where they to continue operating on old, legacy versions of their
are located. applications.
SaaS solutions also make the job of managing As a result, campaign software deployments are
events easier. By providing a consolidated view of frequently associated with large up-front costs and
all aspects of campaign events, SaaS can help cam- unpredictable spikes in ongoing expenses. The results
paigns plan everything from dinner speeches to na- are often well below original expectations. The com-
tional conventions. SaaS allows campaigns to track plexity of implementing, customizing, and upgrading
invitations, attendance, expenses, equipment pur- software drives up the costs, forcing campaigns to
chases, leasing, vendor contracts, and media rela- recalibrate the expected return. Consequently, many
tionships. campaigns find themselves locked into software ap-
In the 2008 election cycle, it is estimated that po- plications that their staffs cannot effectively manage
litical campaigns will raise and spend $10- 13 billion.30 and that their volunteers cannot easily use.
Much of this spending could be misdirected because
of inherent deficiencies in the traditional software li- The Internet Is Changing the Rules of the Game
censing model. The remainder of this article will ex-
The Internet allows organizations to connect us-
amine these shortcomings and discuss how SaaS can
ers to a common network at a very low cost and with
help address them.
much less effort. This connectivity makes it possible
for the software industry to deliver its applications
as an on-demand utility, similar to electricity or tele-
In the 2008 election phone service. Unlike the traditional software model,
cycle, it is estimated SaaS does not require an organization to buy, install,
or maintain any software or hardware. Instead, an or-
that political campaigns ganization needs only to have Internet connectivity
will raise and spend $10 and pay a monthly subscription fee to use the service.
- $13 billion. Much of Employees can use existing PCs or mobile devices to
access the applications—which are delivered via the
this spending could be Internet. Customers are up and running and begin to
misdirected because of realize benefits from their investments in weeks or
inherent deficiencies in months instead of years.
the traditional software A major benefit of SaaS is the stability and pre-
licensing model. Is dictability of costs. Unlike traditional software, SaaS
customers do not face high front-end expenses.
“Software as a Service” the There are no servers or other hardware to buy and no
solution? up-front software licensing costs. Instead, customers
pay a periodic subscription fee based on the number
of people using the application. This regular payment
Shortcomings of the Traditional Software Model schedule allows campaign managers to budget ef-
In the traditional software model, a political fectively and offers considerable savings. It also pro-
campaign has to license the software, invest in the vides flexibility for customers to add users as their
necessary hardware and IT infrastructure, and then needs evolve without being forced to pay in advance
undertake the software implementation—a process for licenses they end up not needing. According to
that may take many months to complete. Once the IT studies by the Gartner Group, the Yankee Group, and
system is set up, the campaign then has to manage Morgan Stanley Research, the cost of SaaS over three
and maintain the software and hardware on its prem- to five years is almost half the cost of similar client/
ises, at a heavy cost. Supporting this infrastructure is server solutions.31
difficult under any circumstances, and even more so
for campaigns because many of them lack dedicated,
professional IT staff.
Because software vendors periodically release
new versions of their software, campaigns often
need to undertake expensive upgrades. These up-
grades can rival the initial implementation in their 31 The Gartner Group, Three Year Total Cost of Own-
scope and complexity. Given the immense cost of ership for CRM Software for MSB’s, April 2004;
The Yankee Group, Hosted vs. Premise Based
Sales Solutions: TCO and Trade Offs, 2004; Mor-
30 Estimate of the Institute for Politics, Democracy gan Stanley Equity Research, Breaking Ground
& the Internet. with On-Demand CRM, August 2, 2004.



three months, versus only about 16 percent of on-

According to studies by premise solutions.32 This rapid deployment allows
the Gartner Group, the project managers to keep project schedules on track
– while getting quick wins and building momentum
Yankee Group, and Morgan for their campaigns.
Stanley Research, the cost SaaS also allows for greater flexibility in bring-
of SaaS over three to five ing new applications online. SaaS applications let
years is almost half the campaigns start small, make systematic improve-
ments, and add more users as needed. Traditional,
cost of similar client/server on-premise software solutions require old software
solutions. to be removed or altered so that new software can be
installed. With SaaS, there is no need to terminate ex-
isting software. As a result, campaigns can keep their
The SaaS subscription model also holds another old applications running until they are completely
important advantage for customers. Because SaaS satisfied with the SaaS solution. Moreover, SaaS
vendors rely on regular subscription renewals, they gives campaigns more control over their data. With
are committed to their customers’ success in a way SaaS, the data stay in the system. Consultants and
that traditional software companies simply are not. In volunteers can access necessary data, but not walk
the traditional model, software companies often lose away with it.
interest in their customers’ welfare once they have
collected their up-front licensing fees. SaaS vendors,
by contrast, have a strong vested interest in making Conclusion
their customers successful over the long run so as to SaaS offers several advantages to political cam-
ensure subscription renewals. paigns that traditional client/server software does
not, providing a powerful solution for many of the
SaaS Benefits for Political Campaigns strategic data needs facing campaign managers.
Many political campaigns are overwhelmed by the Among the most compelling advantages of SaaS are
sheer scope and complexity of their IT operations. freedom from IT infrastructure management, rapid
Failed projects and cost overruns are only the most implementation, cost-savings, world-class data secu-
obvious indicators. Applications that are difficult to rity, flexible customization, and ease of use. These
use, stove-pipe information systems that frustrate advantages can substantially reduce the risk of cam-
data sharing, the prevalence of legacy IT systems, paign software deployments and allow armies of
and constant efforts “to reinvent the wheel” also at- fundraisers and volunteers to expertly use the soft-
test to the scope of the problem. To address these ware with minimal training. Although SaaS is a rela-
problems, political campaigns must embrace a new tively new concept for many political campaigns, it
approach to information management, just as the has an extensive track record of success in the private
private sector is doing. sector. As campaigns realize these benefits, they too
will embrace the SaaS model.
SaaS applications provide comprehensive, flex-
ible solutions that can meet the needs of political
campaigns of all sizes, from the largest presidential
campaign to congressional, state, and even local
elections. These solutions benefit both campaign
managers and their IT staffs. Campaign managers,
charged with supporting the core missions of their
campaigns, need fully functional software to keep
their programs on budget and on schedule. IT staff,
charged with keeping their systems up and running,
need solutions that are cost-effective, quick to im-
plement, and easy to maintain. SaaS can help both
groups by freeing them from worry about infrastruc-
ture, maintenance, and upgrades, thus allowing them
to concentrate on their core missions.
In addition to the cost advantages of the SaaS
subscription model, most SaaS applications can be
up and running in weeks, not months or years like
traditional software projects. Even complex SaaS ap-
plications usually take only about a month to imple-
ment. A CSO study found that almost 60 percent of 32 CSO Insights 2006, “On-Demand versus On-
on-demand solutions were implemented in under Premise CRM” by Jim Dickey and Barry Trailor,
page 2.



CHAPTER 8 Although the passive data is critical for direct mail

targeting, phone-banking and precinct-walking, it has
limited usability in volunteer recruitment. That’s why
it’s important to make sure that your active, day-to-
Making Your CRM day database is ready for the task of volunteer man-
agement even before your campaign begins.
The five-point data plan
ON DECK COMMUNICATION STUDIO LLC One of the earliest activities campaigns
should undertake is to determine where they’ll
get their data and how it’ll be stored. The end
Volunteers: the people every campaign wants but most result is a data plan that answers, at a minimum,
campaigns don’t have the time or resources to recruit. A the following central questions:
good relationship management program, however, can
help you pinpoint volunteers without wasting too much 1. Where is our voter and supporter
time or money. data going to come from? Voter
files? Party lists? Previous cam-
Building a Volunteer Corps on more than a Hope and paigns?
a Prayer 2. How will it be managed? Online cus-
How you construct your database can affect how tom MySQL database linked to your
well you develop relationships with potential volun- website? Commercial CRM soft-
teers. That’s because volunteers and voters are some- ware? Offline Access database?
times two different groups of people. Sometimes, a 3. Who will maintain it? A full-time
database can be too crowded, or too poorly designed, staffer? Multiple staffers? A dedi-
to help you strike volunteer gold. This chapter looks cated volunteer?
at constructing a data strategy that helps you develop 4. How will the data be used? Direct
and manage a volunteer base. Let’s start with how mail list-selection? Field ops? Email
you build your database. outreach? Phone banking?
5. Who will need to access it? Which
staffers? Volunteers? Consultants?
On Deck Communication
@ Studio LLC combines political
communication strategy and
A data plan crafted very early in the campaign
will help you stay focused as you collect informa-
graphic design for Democratic tion about your supporters – information you’ll
candidates. For more information, inevitably need to generate the lists and reports
visit www.ondeckstudio.com. you’ll want at your fingertips when it’s time to
make strategy choices. A plan is also critical for
ensuring the database you build will support
It’s easy for campaigns to breeze through one of CRM activities, such as recruiting and managing
the most important technical decisions they have to volunteers, donors, and supporters.
make: just how integrated should their campaign da- Your data plan needn’t be a tome — a one or
tabases be? More specifically, should their data on two-page memo that answers the five questions
active contacts (volunteers, donors, stakeholders, above and states all conceivable uses of cam-
media, and email subscribers) be in the same data- paign-related data should suffice. You will use
base as their passive contacts (voter file and party your data plan when choosing a CRM platform.
There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to that
question because, as in all things campaign-related, If you are running the average campaign, then
it depends on the race. Keeping active and passive you probably do nothing and hope a steady stream of
data separate may save time and money for many new, enthusiastic supporters finds its way to your of-
campaigns, except for those that pay a professional fice. In reality, it usually takes more than a little wish-
database consultant or have no donors and no volun- ful thinking to build a viable volunteer army. Your
teers by the time they acquire a voter file. If you find campaign must be set up to accept new volunteers
yourself in either of these two scenarios, then how through multiple channels — namely the web, phone,
you store your data probably doesn’t make much dif- and in-person.
ference. Regardless of how they come in, their contact



information must all go into the same database, or 1. Recruit on your website. – Visitors to your
you’ll risk losing pieces of information – or even en- website are already interested in your can-
tire entries – to clerical mismanagement. Manual didate. There is no more fertile ground for
data entry should be as easy as possible for campaign recruiting volunteers. Give them the ability
staffers, and it should absolutely be integrated with to sign up as volunteer, asking them what
your website, so that new sign-ups are automatically they’re interested in doing and when they’re
logged and tagged accordingly. available. That data should go directly into
Databases require daily maintenance by someone your CRM database. Your database should
on the campaign authorized to change and delete automatically generate an email message to
records as necessary. Your database will inevitably your volunteer coordinator and to the volun-
contain duplicates — like weeds in a garden — that teer, thanking him or her.
need to be identified and plucked for the sake of ef-
ficiency. Duplicates crop up for a variety of reasons, The same principles that apply to electoral
most commonly: persuasion – have a clear, consistent mes-
sage (i.e. “we need to fix our schools”),
1. People submit multiple forms on your web- make a clear ask (i.e. “please help us fix our
site (i.e. email sign-up, volunteer, donor, en- schools by volunteering”), and predict the
dorser, etc), and your website or CRM isn’t result (i.e. “with your help, we’ll take City
built to prevent duplicates. Hall and fix our schools”) – should be ap-
plied to the sign-up page. It’s astonishing
2. Your website and/or CRM is built to pre-
how many campaigns rely on a stripped-
vent duplicates, but the person changed
down, plain, out-of-context web form to re-
or mistyped the information used to verify
cruit volunteers. Use the page to sell why
they should volunteer.
3. A regular email subscriber made a donation
— an activity that may be excluded from du-
plicate-prevention measures for campaign Bigger campaigns may allow site visitors to
finance compliance (just in case) and added create accounts that allow them to recruit
a new record. other volunteers and donors. These cam-
paigns often use a points system to reward
4. Your voter file was integrated after you al-
their highest-performing supporters, foster-
ready had a sizable active database, and no
ing a sense of competition among the most
crosschecking was done during the merge.

Duplicates aren’t the worst things in the world,

2. Enter your offline data. - The data on vol-
but they can lead to multiple attempts at contact (re-
unteers who call your office, attend a rally,
ceiving two phone call solicitations, two mail pieces,
or otherwise sign-up offline will need to be
etc), which waste the campaign’s time, money, and
added to your CRM database. The interface
should not make data entry any more of a
The reality is that most campaigns aren’t staffed chore than it must be, and it should allow
to perform the daily maintenance required to keep some flexibility for recording additional infor-
the campaign’s data at optimum efficiency. A good mation about the individual, like “potential
CRM application will make it easier by ensuring the donor,” or “member of St. Paul’s Church.”
technology serves the campaign and that the cam-
paign doesn’t serve the data.
3. Comb your database for potential volunteers.
In choosing your CRM platform, ask how well it
– Many of the people in your active database
will play with the following campaign activities:
would be willing to volunteer if asked. Try
to find them. Here are a few things to look
Activity 1: Bringing in New Volunteers for:
Your website and CRM application should be pre- a. The most consistent email openers.
pared to accept volunteers and capture more than If your bulk email system is linked
just their name and phone number. Find out what to your CRM, then you should be
tasks they’re willing to perform (give them an array able to tell which subscribers read
of “opportunities”) and ask when they’re available. the messages most frequently (and
Having this information will make deployment sig- which subscribers forward the mes-
nificantly more efficient. sages to others).
b. Geographically relevant addresses.
If your district covers a number of



zip codes, cities, or counties, then

it’s important to have a balanced 6. Synchronize your database to your email
distribution of volunteers — es- software. – There probably isn’t a scenario
pecially in battleground areas. If where we would advise a campaign that its
you’ve identified regions that need CRM program didn’t need to be linked to
extra attention, then look for peo- a bulk email application. Ideally email and
ple in your CRM database who live CRM are part of the same application (as
there and contact them directly. many commercial CRMs are) so that your
c. If your CRM software allows you to application can send messages to select
“tag” contacts with issue prefer- contacts drawn directly from your database
ences, then you can create a volun- without any cutting-and-pasting.
teer opportunity that centers on an
issue and reach out to those who’ve
Activity 3: Assisting in Volunteer Activities
been identified as interested. It’s
an easy way to take a subscriber This is where the decision on whether to integrate
who cares about education and your voter file with your CRM really comes into play.
turn him into a volunteer willing to There is an array of tasks that volunteers commonly
call other voters about your candi- perform, and most of them center on getting the
date’s views on education. word out to other voters (sending postcards, calling
likely voters, walking precincts, etc). If you’ve de-
cided to integrate your voter file into your CRM, then
4. Monitor the heartbeat of your data on a day- it should facilitate that volunteer work and make it
to-day basis. – Use your CRM software to more efficient by providing tools for targeting and, if
view the ebb and flow of your database. You your data is really good, micro-targeting.
should be able to see how many people have
joined your email list, volunteered, unsub-
scribed from your email list, and donated 7. Generate walk lists and call sheets. – If you
each day. Combined, they form a fairly accu- know that your volunteers will walk precincts
rate barometer of message penetration and every Saturday, then you need to find a CRM
campaign momentum. system that allows you to generate those
walk lists (and then update the records of
those visited and missed afterward). An ar-
Activity 2: Interacting with your Volunteers ray of reporting options should be among
One of the disadvantages to relying on a basic Ac- the first things seen by your volunteer or
cess database sitting on an office computer for CRM field coordinator when he or she logs into
is that it provides no direct means for contacting the the database. Reports should contain all the
people in that database. Without a strong communi- relevant information needed to keep your
cation vehicle, volunteer mobilization can be an ardu- volunteers organized and efficient. If you’re
ous, inefficient task. using a web interface, the list should be of-
fered in multiple formats — HTML, Excel/
CSV, Word, and PDF.
5. Give your volunteer coordinator access to
your database. – Your volunteer coordinator
should be granted access to your CRM data- 8. Build interactive maps. – Campaign head-
base and should receive the same training quarters have pinned large maps to office
given to the person responsible for database walls for years to plot walk strategy and
maintenance. He or she should have a cus- predict voter turnout. Putting maps online
tom interface in the CRM software, present- and synchronizing them with your CRM da-
ing a dashboard of metrics on recruitment, tabase takes that practice to the next level by
availability, and fulfillment. utilizing real-time data. With your voter file
loaded and a powerful mapping engine in-
tegrated with your CRM, your volunteers will
With one click, the volunteer coordinator
generate higher return-on-investment when
should be able to generate lists or send an
they walk precincts or call their neighbors.
email to everyone willing to attend a rally
or put a yard sign on the front lawn. He
or she also needs to be able to add volun- A good mapping system can also help you
teers who signed-up offline. The volunteer visualize where your volunteers live and
coordinator may also bear responsibility for where they’re lacking. It can show you where
updating volunteers’ records after they’ve you donors are centralized and expose op-
actually completed a volunteer activity. portunities for further gain.



$10,000 on a customized database unless this race is

Activity 4: Keeping Data Secure a prelude to higher office.
Though applicable no matter what you’re using However, if you’re an underdog or know that the
your CRM for, it’s always important to consider the race will come down to a few percentage points, then
two kinds of relevant data security. absolutely use the best data management tools avail-
able within your budget.
Every bit of intelligence you can collect on every
9. Secure incoming data. — Savvy web users
single voter and volunteer is imperative. If you’ve got
know to look for the little lock icon in your
teams of volunteers going door-to-door, they should
browser window and the “https” prefix in
be recording their interactions in a specific, detailed,
the URL window before they enter their sen-
and consistent manner, and then inputting that data
sitive credit card information for a purchase.
into your CRM at the end of each day. If a volunteer
More and more campaign sites are applying
has completed an activity, make a note in your CRM
the same level of security to volunteer sign-
so that person can be thanked and asked again.
ups, email subscriptions, and general con-
tact management. The “s” in “https” stands It all sounds great on paper, but if your campaign
for “secure,” because the page containing staffers and volunteers lack the time or commitment
the form and the page processing the form required to maintain and use the data in your CRM,
are protected using Secured Socket Link save your money and consider a realistic solution.
(SSL) encryption. Data submitted on an
SSL page is scrambled before it leaves and
unscrambled right before it is entered into
the database, preventing hackers from in-
tercepting it and using the data maliciously. CASE STUDY
Most basic contact information, like mailing
addresses and phone numbers, are publicly
available. This type of information is not
what most people consider “sensitive.” In
this case, SSL encryption may not be neces- Ragtag Armies and
sary for CRM, but it is a nice feature to have
available to you — an extra security blanket,
just in case.
Online Donkeys:
10. Secure stored data. — Encompassing not
Volunteer Management and
just the kind of database your CRM data CRM in the 2006 Senate
is stored in and how that data is accessed,
but the physical state of the servers hosting Campaign of Jim Webb
your database, storage security is critical.
Especially if you’re in an intense race. Find
out exactly where your servers are located DAVE HANNIGAN AND DAVE LEICHTMAN
if you’re using a commercial shared host- DEMPAC
ing solution or if you’re using a web-based
CRM — even if it’s tied into your website.
It’s a good idea to know where your servers By November 2006, the Webb for Senate cam-
are and what kind of physical protection is paign possessed a sizable database of self-identified
in place (locked doors, power backups, fire volunteers, numbering approximately 7,500. But with
suppression systems, as well as data protec- most of the campaign’s financial resources going to
tion. Most companies that offer CRM soft- fight a TV war, the grassroots operation had to reach
ware know this is a concern and will make these invaluable supporters with one paid staff mem-
the information available up front. If they ber, a tightly capped email allowance, no budget for
don’t tell you where their data is stored and travel or campaign literature, and two phone lines.
how it’s protected, you probably shouldn’t Still, by the last weeks of the campaign, a skilled
use them. group of volunteers was making over 4000 phone
calls and personal email contacts a week, engaging
volunteers to perform crucial tasks in a victory that
Conclusion gave control of the Senate to the Democrats by only
There’s no point in having a sophisticated and ex- 9,300 votes.
pensive data management plan and CRM if the cam-
paign staff on the ground won’t use it. If you know
you’re going to win by 30 points, don’t spend the



searched and saved in lists and associated with ac-

@ DEMPAC was formed in 2007

by a group for former Webb
campaign grassroots leaders.
tivities, which are then automatically added to a per-
son’s searchable attributes. This makes it possible to
see a volunteer’s activity over time, providing a very
DEMPAC develops online tools for clear vision of their participation and skills.
connecting volunteers with local
candidates. Riding the Donkey
The Webb campaign’s grassroots director sent
weekly email blasts presenting volunteer opportu-
Background nities across the state, from phone banks to public
After electing Tim Kaine governor in 2005, Vir- events, information that was inconsistently updated
ginia Democrats set their sites on George Allen, a on WebbforSenate.com. This one-way communica-
one-term senator who some polls showed to be the tion was not sufficient for supporters who expected
front-running 2008 GOP presidential prospect. By a more personal connection. To handle the volume
the beginning of 2006, businessman Harris Miller of questions from existing volunteers and the steady
was the only declared Democrat in the senate race. stream of new recruits, it became necessary to set
Encouraged by a “Draft Webb” campaign organized up a “customer service” center to address volunteer
by bloggers from RaisingKaine.com, former Reagan needs. This came to be known as the field desk.
Navy Secretary Jim Webb threw his hat into the ring With one phone line, one computer, and an an-
on February 7th with no money, no staff, and little swering machine, the field desk concept started out
name recognition. small, focusing on answering volunteer requests and
Webb did possess an impressive résumé, com- entering new volunteer information. Most features of
bined with principled views on Iraq and the economy. the Donkey went unused for weeks, as there was little
(He predicted a chaotic post-war Iraq, months before capability to update and distribute information prop-
the war began, and held that government must en- erly. New volunteers were backing up in the system,
sure fundamental fairness for American workers.) In and frequent complaints were heard about highly-
a low turnout primary, after airing not a single radio skilled Webb supporters being ignored. Changes had
or TV ad and distributing few mailers, Webb defeat- to be made, and with a zero budget.
ed Miller with the help of what he called his “ragtag In August, computers loaned by field desk volun-
army” of volunteers. teers were equipped with free Skype VoIP software
With general election funds trickling in slowly, the and a few $20 headsets, allowing each work station
Webb campaign had little choice but to rely on local to access volunteer data and simultaneously make
party committees and volunteers to perform func- calls over the broadband network. Now staffed with
tions usually handled by paid staff and third-party five plus volunteers all day and well into the evening,
vendors. Although the campaign would eventually re- seven days a week, the field desk set about using the
ceive significant support from the Democratic Sena- Donkey to notify every volunteer in the common-
torial Campaign Committee – and from the mouth of wealth about what they could do that week – even
George Allen – the ragtag army proved indispensable that day – to help elect Jim Webb.
in developing and maintaining campaign momen- For example, a field coordinator would request
tum. But volunteer managers faced significant chal- volunteers to walk a Fairfax County neighborhood
lenges in connecting with supporters and providing that weekend for voter identification. A Field desk
them with the information and motivation that fuels manager would then use the Donkey to identify vol-
all successful grassroots efforts. unteers who 1) lived in or near that neighborhood, 2)
had indicated they were available on weekends and
The Donkey 3) had indicated they would work “door-to-door.”
Back in 2005, a small group of Democratic activ- Those possessing these three attributes were added
ists, sponsored by Virginia’s state party, made an to a newly created call list on the Donkey, and work-
effort to capture information about the Kaine cam- ers at the field desk would make contact, adding any
paign’s volunteers to aid future candidates. The re- response to each volunteer’s file. An Activity was cre-
sult was TinyHorse Solution’s “Donkey” Volunteer ated in the Donkey with the number of people need-
Management System. ed. Once the quota was reached, the field desk could
start calling to fill the next opportunity.
The Donkey is a web-based, feature-light CRM
database, capable of basic contact management, The approach worked best when the field coordi-
scheduling, and histories. It maintains addresses nator or other event organizer had a Donkey account
and phone numbers, voting information (such as a and could access the list created and filled for their
volunteer’s home congressional district), and a flex- activity. Not only was access valuable for that particu-
ible attribute tagging system to accumulate pertinent lar event – allowing the coordinator to call the volun-
details about each individual. The data files can be teers to reschedule or provide proper directions – but



since many events such as literature drops were held a volunteer had been last contacted. Thus the coor-
in the same neighborhoods over several weeks, the dination of volunteers suffered from a lack of central
members of the local list could become an instant organization and a lack of shared data resources.
micro-team, to be contacted for multiple events close
to home.
Lessons Learned
In order to get the most of volunteer data, it is vi-
What Worked tal that all staff, regional offices, and anyone working
The field desk process, once in place, exceeded with volunteers buy into the need to use and update
expectations. Much of this had to do with its status the chosen volunteer management system. This al-
as a volunteer-created effort – volunteer involvement lows the campaign to conduct a much more coherent
was highly-respected by all, so commitment to the ‘running conversation’ with volunteers that commu-
cause was high. A captain was always on duty to train nicates respect for their efforts (while limiting wasted
new field desk volunteers on the CRM in use. The contact), and also allows all leaders of the campaign
captain would interpret volunteer contact priorities to access resources they might not know they have.
from the paid staff and field coordinators, translat- (For example, it was not until October that the Fi-
ing them into call lists and targeted email. Field desk nance staff learned the Donkey contained numerous
volunteers were given wide latitude, the overarching volunteers with fundraising experience) A common
priority being to involve all volunteers in any way they understanding of the value offered should lead to
were willing to participate. better communication regarding needs that cash-
Details of each interaction were easily entered into strapped campaigns can fill with volunteer recruits.
the Donkey; this contact history then became a major Once decision-makers have committed to using
factor in designing lists. For example, the field desk a system, the campaign should establish a clearing-
Captain could pull up the files of those who had not house similar to the field desk concept to:
yet participated in a volunteer activity for a low-in-
vestment event such as a Jim Webb rally in their area.
1. Take requests for needs that can be filled by
Conversely, a clearly committed volunteer might be
the first to receive a call about an important activity
in their neighborhood. The end result was that every 2. Search for and contact matching individuals.
volunteer within the purview of the field desk received 3. Maintain scheduled events and specialized
communications that were localized, informative and volunteer lists.
consistent, with almost no duplication of efforts.
Although the ideal would be to have all members
What Didn’t Work of the campaign use and update the data as they in-
Although WebbforSenate.com included a page teract with volunteers – or even have the volunteers
dedicated to volunteer events, there was no effec- update it themselves – the fast pace of a campaign
tive, easily-searched central hub listing activities for demands a small group dedicated to volunteer man-
volunteers. Each Webb for Senate regional office was agement and maintaining the CRM.
responsible for coordinating volunteers in its area. Future campaigns would do well to not only com-
However, only the Headquarters (Northern VA) of- mit to a single data source for volunteers, but a single
fice had a rigorous field desk process in place. The data source for all individuals in the campaign’s uni-
Hampton Roads (Southeastern VA) and Charlottes- verse. “Voter,” “Donor,” “Volunteer,” and “Staff” are
ville (West-Central VA) offices were introduced to the not discrete titles, as it is possible for one person to
Donkey far too late, but a core group of full-time vol- act in all four roles in the course of a single campaign,
unteers in each location employed it effectively. The and likely for politically involved individuals to wear
Richmond (Central VA) and Roanoke (Southwest VA) different hats over several election cycles. A secure
offices did not use the tool. system, offering different levels of access to informa-
This begs the question, “how did the other offices tion, could provide campaigns a safe and much more
organize volunteers?” The main method was through comprehensive view of an individual, leading to tre-
Excel spreadsheet lists which were originally exports mendous gains in efficiency, much better ‘customer’
from the Donkey that became hand-tailored and di- interactions, and thus increased loyalty, the goal of all
vergent. Volunteers in these areas who signed up political parties.
online after the Excel exports were thus completely
ignored by their local offices.
Another problem was the lack of a communica-
tions history for volunteers in regions where the Don-
key was not used. In the event that the headquarters’
Field desk made calls for an event within the scope
of a different office, there was no way to know when



CHAPTER 9 help me achieve my goals?” Why are you going to

contact people, track them, or keep their data? Do
you need the database to perform campaign finance
duties, voter contact, or both? And finally, what do I
Data, Data do with all this data?
This chapter answers those questions, and dis-
Everywhere. Now cusses how your campaign can use CRM for its field
and fundraising activities.
What Do I Do I. The Field Campaign
With it? Did you know that you can take your data on a
neighborhood walk?
CRM doesn’t necessarily have exclusively online
or mail-driven implications. Some of our clients’ big-
gest success stories using CRM come a lot closer to
home – in your own neighborhood, to be precise. If
you have been in the political game for at least a few
Often, the first check a new political campaign months of an election cycle, then you know that door-
writes is for a constituent relationship management to-door canvassing and neighborhood walks are a
system. The CRM database in recent election cycles perennial part of politicking. Over the past few years,
has become the foundation of everything else the canvassing technology has evolved from stacks of
campaign does. Information gathered from field, 3x5 cards to scanning barcodes and instantly updat-
email, and online activity is used to raise money and ing databases through mobile devices.
identify votes. Campaigns are now buying informa- For example, consider the relatively widely-used
tion on potential voters and donors. Databases are method of placing a barcode for each person you
the most valuable tools a campaign has in its arse- want to contact on a walk sheet. Scanning that bar-
nal for gathering information on voters: how they code allows you to see – and update – his or her in-
feel about certain issues, how they voted, who they formation. With this system, you can note that Ms.
contribute money to, and when they volunteer. This Wright is concerned about a casino that may be built
information helps paid staff organize a campaign to in town. You can use that information to generate a
collect the votes it needs to win on Election Day. letter that addresses her specific interests: “Like you,
the last thing I want to see if for us to build a ca-
sino in our town.” If Ms. Wright is undecided, then

@ NGP Software provides campaign

technology solutions to Democratic
candidates and their allies. For
you can generate the additional line, “Thank you for
considering my campaign.” Or, if she supports your
candidate, “I’m really appreciative that you want to
put a yard sign on your lawn. Expect it to arrive within
more information, visit www. a week. I encourage you to vote on Election Day.”
Let’s look at an example of how a field campaign
can effectively use CRM to accomplish its goals.
Data is a campaign essential: the more you know
about a voter or volunteer or donor, the easier it will
be to convince them to vote your way, volunteer, and CASE STUDY A
give your campaign money. Campaigns are collect-
ing large amounts of seemingly irrelevant data about
voters. For example, the Republican Party has a da-
Pay raises, campaigns and
tabase of voters that even tracks shopping patterns. field efforts
They know the married mother of two who goes to
church every week and shops at Wal-Mart is more The Problem
likely to vote Republican than the married mother of
The Mike Veon for State Representative campaign
two that does not go to church every week and shops
in Pennsylvania combined canvassing with CRM and
are Target, and that these two voters could very well
email during a very contentious primary in 2006.
live directly next door to each other. The messages
Veon, the Minority Whip of the State House, was in-
they see during the campaign season will be micro-
strumental in passing a substantial pay raise for state
targeted to them based on the information that has
legislators that was passed in the middle of the night
been collected.
on the last day of the session. When the story hit the
When your campaign is considering a CRM sys- news, people were outraged. Caving in to voter an-
tem the first question to ask is, “How will this system



ger, the pay raise was repealed by a 202 – 1 vote. Who supporters got out and voted. The GOTV program
was the lone dissenter? Rep. Mike Veon, who strongly consisted of door knockers and phone calls to every
believed that the only way to attract good candidates identified positive voter in the district. Unfortunately,
to run for office and to cut down on corruption, was because of general voter anger, the inability to control
to pay them competitively to what they would earn the GOTV operation during the general election, and
in the private sector. This prompted several candi- the strong campaign run by his general election chal-
dates to run against him both in the primary and in lenger, Rep. Veon was unsuccessful in his re-election
the general election. His position was a complicated bid. This proved, however, that the work done in the
one, but if explained correctly to his constituents, it primary was effective.
was possible that they would understand.
II. Fundraising
The Tactic 2004 was a turning point in the way campaigns
Because the district was a small (just around used technology, and the Howard Dean campaign
30,000 voters), the campaign was able to send paid has become the inspiration for many smaller cam-
canvassers and volunteers into the field to knock on paigns. When it comes to fundraising, the first thing
every single door in the district and ask people about campaigns need to realize is very simple: you’re not
what concerned them this election. By far the big- Howard Dean. Just putting a “click to donate” but-
gest concern was the pay raise – specifically Veon’s ton on your Website will not immediately result in
involvement in passing the pay raise, and then his millions of dollars. Understand that, and you under-
subsequent lone vote against repealing it. stand your limitations.
The campaign knew they had to focus their ef-
forts on this group of people who cared very much
about the issue. They used a web-based voter con- When it comes to
tact management system that allowed them to track
various demographics including issues important to fundraising, the first thing
voters. The contact management system allowed the campaigns need to realize
campaign to send customized letters and phone calls is very simple: you’re not
to voters to explain the votes, while avoiding the is-
sue altogether when it did not matter to the voters.
Howard Dean.
It acknowledged that Rep. Veon wanted to make it
economically feasible for people other than the super
Even with the Internet, fundraising still takes
wealthy people to run for political office. If you pay
work, just like it takes work to raise money over the
your representatives enough to hold public office,
phone or at events. You still have to give people a
then you make it more attractive to them. This results
reason to contribute to your campaign. You’re not
in a better quality of representation.
selling them a product; you’re selling them the idea
This line of reasoning contained more nuance of good government – an idea that tends to change,
than the message that pay increases lead to a huge depending upon who you talk to. Work on making
deficit, but the Veon campaign took the chance, and your website and email signups part of everything
won the primary challenge. Seventeen other incum- you do. At every event, at every campaign stop, ask
bent state legislators lost their primary challenges people for their email addresses. Ask donors who
including the sitting State Senate Pro Tempore. The give over the phone to send out an “ask” via email to
website PoliticsPA.com said of the Veon campaign, their personal address books. Set up personal fund-
“It was the best, most well-oiled field program that raising pages for your supporters so they can track
we have ever seen.” their own progress. When you empower your sup-
porters you generate enthusiasm that no number of
Cost and Needs paid campaign staffers can match. Most important
of all, do not use technology simply because it’s avail-
A web-based voter file system is usually priced
able or it’s new and flashy. Really think about how
according to how many voters you have in your uni-
you can apply it to your specific campaign and set
verse. A 30,000 voter district will cost roughly $500
goals of what you hope to accomplish through the
per month, where as a nationwide voter file system
use of that technology.
can cost in the millions.
Now, let’s discuss putting principles of CRM into
practices during the campaign fundraising season.
Lessons from the Field
The Veon campaign understood what they had to
do. They contacted each and every voter three times!
Those who cared knew the reasons for the votes. The
biggest issue after that was making sure that their



What do you need in a field CRM?

A well run field program can make the difference in a tightly contested race. Almost all of the close
races I hear and read about mentioned how good the winner’s “ground effort” was. In essence, their Get
Out the Vote or GOTV program.
A Campaign Field Program consists of three basic steps.
1. Target your voter – A good CRM system will help you target areas and precincts where you
will get the most out of your efforts. For example, if you are a Democratic Candidate, you
will want to walk precincts where there is higher than a 50% Democratic Performance Index.
Democratic Performance Index is a number arrived at from several compiled election results
to determine what percentage of the vote a “John Smith” with a D after their name would
receive against a “John Smith” with an R after their name in the absence of any campaigning.
If you have an area with a DPI over 50% you are already starting at an advantage. A CRM can
help you do this by compiling voting history data, demographics, type of terrain that precinct
is in, population density and so on.
2. Persuade and Identify Your Voter – During the months leading up to the election a successful
campaign will contact voters via door to door canvassing and phone banking. A CRM will help
you record “positive IDs” and identify issues that you have in common with your voters. A
good Field CRM will help you track your progress, send letters to voters who are thinking about
your race, and connect with them in a personal way that has been lost since the advent of the
“Television Age.”
3. Get Your Voters to Vote – Depending on how well your campaign performed step 2, you should
have been able to identify the 50 percent-plus-one voters you need to win your election. A
good CRM will allow you to print out walk sheets of identified voters. Print “tear sheets” at
polling sites to identify those who have voted, and target areas where people haven’t voted yet.
Election Day is very chaotic and the more open and accessible your CRM, the easier it is to use
and to train others on, and the more reliable it is, the more successful your campaign will be.

CASE STUDY B hour earlier. The staff quickly realized that they had
to contact every single guest to ensure that nobody
arrived late. These guests paid a lot of money to see
Combining email and President Clinton and if they were not informed there
offline fundraising would be a lot of angry donors, and the last thing you
want is an angry donor.
In the 2004 election, a New Jersey Member of
The Tactic
Congress was holding a fundraiser featuring former
President Bill Clinton. The event was put together on In order to quickly inform and ensure that all
very short notice and the vast majority of the tick- guests (over 500) received the information it was de-
ets were sold online. The fundraiser was to be a lun- cided that an email would be sent to those who were
cheon and attendees would have their pictures taken registered to attend the event. There simply was not
with the President and would receive a signed copy of enough time to call every single guest in the time that
President Clinton’s autobiography, My Life. they had. Using their CRM the campaign was able to
send an email to only those registered for the event,
The Problem and to any of their guests that they registered as well.
The CRM system that they used allowed them to see
The staff who were throwing the event were told who did and who did not open and read the email
by the Secret Service that all guests had to arrive pri- that was sent. By 6 pm that day, those that did not
or to the arrival of President Clinton. All of the guests open the email (only about 75) were called to confirm
were told to arrive promptly at 12:30 p.m. and that that they knew about the time change. It took a lot
the President was scheduled to arrive at 1pm. One less volunteers to call 75 people than it did to call
day before the event President Clinton’s scheduling 500. On the day of the event only one guest arrived
office informed the campaign that due to a sched- late because she hadn’t been informed.
uling conflict President Clinton would be arriving an



What do you need in a fundraising CRM?

1. Track campaign contributions – Tracking campaign contributions is necessary so that you can file
your campaign finance reports. Just as importantly however, this data that you collect on your
donors will be used later on to ask your donors for contributions again. Your best donors are your
previous ones. Tracking your campaign contributions by source code allows you to learn what
kinds of solicitations work and which don’t, where your strongest support is coming from, and
where you might be able to do better.
2. Track volunteer time – Volunteers are the lifeblood of any campaign. You can set up a system
where volunteers can choose when they want to volunteer and what they want to volunteer for.
When it comes time to put a group of volunteers together, you can go into your CRM and choose
only those volunteers who want to help Wednesday nights and who live in the area and are willing
to stuff envelopes. You won’t waste time calling people who aren’t available to help you. You can
track when volunteers show up to help, and thank them appropriately.
3. Broadcast email fundraising solicitations – Broadcast email is a great tool to ask for money, vol-
unteers, and to send news to your supporters. However, email should NOT be used to persuade
voters to vote for you. Email has not proven itself useful in being a persuadable medium. Email
should be used with people that you know already support the campaign or are at least friendly
to it. Asks for contributions can be precisely tailored and customized according to the group of
people you are emailing. For example, if you are hosting a large fundraising event you will send
an email to those who can afford it, have an interest in the type of event you are holding, and who
live nearby. You won’t waste your time emailing to people who aren’t interested or don’t live close
enough to attend the event.

Costs and Needs if you remember, but I was a professor at Yale way
A Web-based fundraising database that includes back when.” While knowing these bits of information
the necessary financial disclosure capabilities can run seems creepy at first, people are more apt to relate
from $250 per month for a local campaign to several to candidate than when the campaign approaches
thousand dollars per month for a Presidential cam- them through a purely political context. And if they
paign. are more apt to relate to you, then they may be more
inclined to go out there and vote for you.
At the same time, a good CRM campaign is not
III. Too Much Information
about people uncomfortable with your knowledge
Historically, people have said that you can never about their personal habits and choices. You don’t
go wrong by collecting too much information. The at- want to walk up to a shopper and say, “Donna, I know
mosphere changes on political campaigns. Too much that you love yogurt. I know that you like fruit on the
information can muddy the waters. The most impor- bottom. I brought you some yogurt, with fruit on the
tant element is not collecting as much information as bottom.” Rather, you want to just show Donna a pic-
possible, but segmenting it in the right way, so that ture of the yogurt she likes. The same is true when
the finance team only sees the financial information, working with voters. You don’t want to tell someone
and the volunteer coordinators only see the volunteer what she believes or feels. You want to show her the
information. While collecting information is incred- possible candidate for her.
ibly important because it allows the candidate and
In some cases, it is more important to listen to
the campaign to relate to people in a more personal
people than to get your message across. Most people
way, you want to make sure the right people see the
involved in politics are not just voters. We care more
right information.
about votes than our own lives and more about poli-
The fact that John Green has a spouse named tics than our families. But most Americans simply
Gertrude and a son at Yale, may seem unimport- want to vote to fulfill their civic duty, and then they go
ant, but it can actually be useful. Several years ago, about their lives. Listen to voters, and then readjust
I worked with a candidate who wanted this type of your message going out to them. At the end of the
information on his call sheet, so that when he talked day, people want to vote for a nice person, someone
to John Green, he could pepper the conversation a lot like them. The Democrats ran into this prob-
with questions like “Oh, how’s Gertrude doing?” lem in 2000 and 2004. People wanted to have a beer
or “How’s little Johnny doing at Yale? I don’t know with George Bush, not Al Gore or John Kerry. Voters



weren’t interested in what they had to say because parentheses, “permanent.” If somebody
they didn’t like the way that information was deliv- says to that she doesn’t want to receive our
ered. The same advice rings true for both Republican newsletters, then don’t let your staff go back
and Democratic candidates: data will lead to a po- later and uncheck the box. The only way to
litical tidal wave. You can’t ride the wave unless you uncheck the box is if that person signed up
bring a surf board. If you’re not prepared to ride it, again on the Website.
then the wave is going to swallow you whole.
2. Simply having a database is not the magic
IV. Sometimes a list is not just a list. bullet. – Despite all the promise of a good
Today in politics, people buy contact lists that CRM system, a database is not a magic bul-
match up email addresses with the voter file. Simply let. It is not going to automatically win you
emailing these voters looks a lot like spamming. But the election – even if it is from a reputable
there are ways to use a list well. One of these lists company. Rather, what you do with that da-
is a radioactive ball of energy: you can either use it tabase will, in fact, help you win that elec-
in a way that blows up in your face or you can use tion. This takes an investment of time, dis-
it in a way that will power your campaign straight cipline, and energy. It requires dedication
through to Election Day. Using your list to send out not just in keeping it up to date but also in
mass emails every week – with no update, no survey, coding, tracking contributions, researching
nothing – blows up in your face because spamming which solicitation are the most effective, and
makes people angry. Even the blogosphere rants knowing which issues make people give.
about campaigns that do that. It’s just not the best
way to use email. On occasion, a client will come to me and
First, choose what you want to know about your say “my database is not working.” I’ll ask
lists. For example, say your campaign is hosting a the staff to look at it, and when we cannot
fundraiser tomorrow night with Bill Clinton. In an find any technical problems, I’ll ask the cli-
instance like this, use your list to find out who are ent “when was the last time somebody ac-
the best people to invite? The most likely answer is cessed the database.” The answer is often
people who have contributed to the campaign in the two weeks ago – if not longer. We conducted
past, people who can afford to pay for an evening with a survey of all of our clients and the success-
President Clinton. You cannot afford to waste time ful majority is on the database, online, for 30
and effort trying to reach out to people who can’t af- hours a week. They constantly entered con-
ford it. You want to find people who live or work close tributions or any other information that can
enough to attend. You want people who aren’t dead. possibly know about the voter, volunteer, or
How am I going to do a search for these people? I’m donor that might help them encourage their
going to ask the database for people who have given supporters to contribute, volunteer, or tell
me over a thousand dollars at one time, people who their friends to vote. Success comes from
live in my state, and people who are still alive. I am knowing all of this and more, and being able
going to generate a list with these criteria, and then I to target specific people quickly – whether
will call, email or snail mail them. Generating a list of through email, or phone, or by posting an
this kind all depends upon the kind of data you col- entry on a well-trafficked blog.
lected. If you haven’t put any of this information into
your system, then don’t expect to get any of it out of
3. Take Good Care of Your Data – Data requires
your system.
constant activity. Most campaigns desig-
nate at least one staff member or volunteer
Best Practices to manage the database. The key is to find
1. Don’t spam. – Collecting information about the right staff member or volunteer for the
people requires some kind of contact with job. Different people contribute different
them –whether in person, on the phone, or things to an organization, and campaigns
online. Don’t forget to ask people the best are no exception. So many people are willing
way to reach the. May we contact you? Is to be involved, but not everyone is right for
a door-to-door visit best? Should we add every task. A 75 year-old mathematics pro-
another phone number for you? What is fessor, for example, might not make the best
your email address? Would you rather be door-to-door canvasser. However, he would
mailed? love to keep a track of contributions, keep
the database up to date, and stuff envelopes
generated the canvassing efforts.
Make sure your databases has a “do not
mail, do not call, do not email” button. We
add a feature to that. We want it to say in



In a perfect world, online
politics would look a lot
more like Amazon.com
Retail Politics? – completely retail. But this
Not So Fast. isn’t a perfect world.

Sometimes a campaign doesn’t have the time

JONATHAN KARUSH or the resources to locate all of the Hispanic single
LIBERTY CONCEPTS mothers in a Congressional district, let alone tailor a
message specifically for them. Sometimes constitu-
ents who reside in a district don’t want you to know
You want to build a constituent database. Where do that they smoke marijuana. Voters can actually be
you start? This chapter will walk you through the ba- intimidated by extreme personalization of message,
sics of building a constituent database, and it will of- becoming wary that their personal information is
fer some tips on collecting and using information about available for public consumption. Extensive personal
your supporters. information being relayed by campaigns can become
All sorts of ethical issues arise the moment you a lightning rod for voter anger and privacy rights
being to collect personally identifiable information advocates. Simply put, being targeted often makes
(PII). PII is a precious commodity in the new age of people uncomfortable.
online politicking. The process of gathering and us- A more realistic and ethical goal should be cre-
ing PII presents many ethical dilemmas. The most ate a database application that makes your campaign
effective practices are to garner every possible bit of run smoother – that isn’t so complicated that it over-
information about the voters in your district and use whelms your staff or infrastructure – and produces
it to campaign advantage. The closer you get to peo- effective results within the realm of respectability.
ple on their personal issues, the more personalized Remember, it is constituent relationship manage-
the campaign becomes to the individual. The more ment, not constituent stalking. The following pages
personalized campaign communications become, walk you through some of the steps your campaign
the more likely that person is to vote for a candidate, should consider before you launch a CRM effort.
volunteer, or donate.

1. Know what you want to know.

Before you can use your database to manage
@ Liberty Concepts provides
Internet and strategy solutions
to progressive candidates,
communications with your supporters, identify three,
four, maybe as many as five or six key characteristics
that are going to be important for your particular
organizations and nonprofits. For race. Use this as your guide to develop a list of all the
more information, visit http://www. common fields or information that you want to know
libertyconcepts.com. about your constituents. Start with the basic, most
obvious parts: name, address, and phone number.
Once you have these three bits of information, iden-
In a perfectly ideal world political campaigns tify the data keys that will be essential to your cam-
would have information on every voter in the district paign for volunteer recruitment and fundraising. This
and a constituent relationship management system includes information about party affiliation, race, sex,
that allows them to customize, personalize, tailor, religion, and ethnicity.
and blast communications completely tailored to
Your goal, over time, is to create a giant database
each individual. In a perfect world, online politics
in which you possess at least 38 fields of information
would look a lot more like Amazon.com – completely
about every voter in every district. Identifying the
retail. But this isn’t a perfect world. Unfortunately,
issues that are important to your constituency is also
many challenges exist in this framework: difficulty
an important part of data model construction. Envi-
gathering complete data, assigning staff time to cus-
ronmentalists will respond favorably to emails geared
tomize messages, and ethical issues of what informa-
toward those issues, the same is true for gun rights
tion should be used in discriminating message.

2. Find the right person to build your database.

Once you know what you want your database to
include, you must build the physical engine that will



house your database. As a candidate, you can either match it up to how many people are signing
have someone custom build it for you, or preferably up for offline volunteer activities or event at-
you can purchase a third-party product from a vari- tendance.
ety of vendors to house those databases. The vendor e. Purchase PII from companies. This is be-
should be selected based on your needs and budget. coming increasingly more popular for cam-
When you look for a vendor, keep a few things paigns. We call it retail information, and its
in mind. The first is accuracy in reporting. Do they growing use is a change from the last elec-
have a proven track record, can they merge their PII tion cycle. Before you buy, look for data veri-
data with contributor information for FEC reporting, fication: make sure the data actually match-
and can data be updated by constituents through es up to the voter file. And make sure the list
a website? Be sure to check references. Politics is a is opt-in, especially when purchasing email
word-of-mouth industry, and databases are no dif- addresses.
ferent. Look for strengths from other, past clients or
5. Integrate new data.
Just collecting data about people doesn’t give you
3. Import your data. an edge. What good is information if you don’t know
Most campaigns begin a race with previous data, how to use it? Look at each of the data collection ac-
either from the last unsuccessful challenger or from tivities listed above. If you decide to engage in any
the state party or some other organization. Once of these activities, then you need to develop a way
your database is built, you have to import that data to accurately and immediately integrate the data you
into your new system. collect into your database.
For example, if you are using your website to col-
4. Improve what you’ve got. lect information about people, then all the forms
should be used to update your database. In other
Once you have the infrastructure in place, then
words, you want to match up the names and email
you need find ways to improve your data and pop-
addresses of people who sign up for something on
ulate your database. There are a variety of different
your Website with information you may already have
ways to do this:
in your database. What did they signup for? Did any
of their personal information change? If one of your
a. Place surveys on your site and in your email. supporters recently moved, and he or she logs onto
User generated information is often the low- your site to sign up for an event, then your database
est cost and easiest method for improving system should immediately update the entry for that
your database. People that volunteer infor- person with the new address. You can even set rules
mation should also be specially flagged, be- within your database to generate an email or phone
cause they obviously are more politically ex- call to make sure you have their correct address.
troverted to have submitted information. It If you’re worried about keeping the information
is important not to barrage people with too that comes through your website secure, that’s a
many questions. Remember when analyzing good thing. But don’t go overboard. It’s more secure
submitted data that it is NOT a reliable fo- to collect information about your supporters on your
cus group, as participants do not represent website than it is to have your volunteers enter the
a representative sample of the population. information by hand. Just make sure the forms are all
When you put a survey on your Website, it is protected with 128-bit encryption – the same type of
a way to collect personal information about security used by Amazon and EBay and online credit
people who feel passionate about your can- card transactions.
didate, not a scientific survey tool.
b. Conduct door-to-door canvassing. This is
6. Monitor your progress and measure results.
a volunteer intensive method for gathering
data, but can be an effective tool. Believe it or not, it’s easier to develop tracking
tools that monitor incoming and outgoing communi-
c. Run phone banks. Like door to door can-
cations than it is to label what’s successful and what’s
vassing this too can be an effective means
not. There are no benchmarks. We’re still in the first
of gathering data, and the labor can be out-
decade of online campaigning, and much remains to
sourced to professional firms.
be established as best practices – especially when it
d. Use the Internet to learn more about your comes to measuring the impact of CRM on politics.
constituents. This includes signup forms, We’re still not at the point yet where there are real
and active, online volunteer opportunities. benchmarks for success. There are wide variations
Many campaigns have developed cookies from client to client.
that track how people behave on the cam-
Remember that evaluation tends to be in the eye
paign’s Website. Collect this data, and then



of the beholder. How does your campaign use the your website. Ensure your supporters are secure. Tell
information it collects for volunteer recruitment or them that you will not share their information either
fundraising? Do you use basic statistical software commercially or with other organizations.
to evaluate the open rate on emails? Who’s clicking Indicate what kind of information you are collect-
on them? Who’s contributing or volunteering based ing, so there is not mystery or curtain over what your
on door-to-door canvassing, compared to email or campaign is trying to do. Sure, people may change
phone calls? their habits – or leave your site completely – when
they are confronted with the fact that you may be col-
7. Keep your information to yourself. lecting information about them on your site. At the
end of the day, whether people opt into your data-
This is a best practice both ethically and effective-
base or not, you want them to trust you. It is a far
ly. Personal information has become a real commod-
greater headache in the long haul to deal with angry
ity in the Internet age. If you want to run an ethical
misinformed people who have unwittingly given you
campaign, then treat your data carefully. Hold your-
personal information they did not want to divulge.
self accountable by posting a good privacy policy on

Flashback to 2002: Notes from a Field Campaign

How I used data and door-to-door canvassing to pinpoint

likely voters

A few years can seem like a few centuries in the world of technology. Nonetheless, the campaign of
yesterday provides some insights into how the ideas presented in this publication will affect the campaigns
of tomorrow.
In 2002, I served as GOTV coordinator and volunteer coordinator for the Chellie Pingree for US Senate
campaign in Maine. Chellie was a Democratic challenger running against incumbent Republican Susan
Collins, and my office was responsible for using data and door-to-door canvassing to raise volunteers in 13
precincts in the towns of Lewiston and Auburn.
All the data my team collected was gathered on door-to-door canvases. The campaign did not integrate
its volunteer and donor databases, so we did not see or deal with any donor information. In fact, donor in-
formation was managed by entirely different staff. The database I worked with was created from registered
voter lists given to the campaign and comprised registered Democrats and Independents.
My team of door-to-door canvassers used Palm Pilots to record information about the people we met
in two different areas. We asked what issue was most important to them and who they would vote for if the
election was today (we then scored them on a scale of 1-5). If people expressed great interest in Chellie
and wanted to volunteer, then we added a note to their profile. This also gave us the opportunity to add
items such as “Send more info about health care.” Answers to these commands were filtered by the head-
quarters in Portland, which followed up with each request accordingly.
The field team strategy consisted of three rounds:

1. We canvassed everyone in the district. We repeated our visits (if no one was at home) until every-
one was reached. Each voter was categorized as 1-5, according to his or her likelihood of voting
for Chellie.
2. We did not revisit the fives and the ones. That is, we did not return to homes where they people
were very likely either to vote for Chellie or very likely to vote against Chellie. Voters ranked 2-4
were canvassed again, this time for persuasion.
3. We canvassed again, this time pulling voters who were labeled as ones, twos, or threes.

The information we collected was downloaded from our Palm Pilots to our database at the end of the



CHAPTER 11 thing: people –not jut the people you plan to put into
your database. By people, I mean staff. For example,
not even the most expensive online tool can replace
a really good field director.
People Come before Want to know the secrets of political targeting or
how to use the data you collect? Just ask a field man-
Programs ger – the real magicians in politics. Without a good
field manager, your data and expensive CRM applica-
tion are just rabbits stuffed into old hats.
For example, during the Dean Campaign we
CLAY JOHNSON sent approximately 150,000 handwritten letters to
BLUE STATE DIGITAL the state of Iowa. We discovered later on that those
letters persuaded people from being neutral about
Everyone in politics is looking for the perfect CRM Dean to being mildly-interested. At the end of the
system and the ideal microtargeting strategy. The an- day, however, they weren’t becoming rabid support-
swer, however, doesn’t exist at the bottom of a box. ers. A smarter strategy would have been if the field
Just as in the businesses world, no one is ever 100% organization had downloaded a list of people who
content with an off-the shelf, out-of-the-box CRM sys- received letters and then followed up with a door-to-
tem. door canvassing chat. We’ve found that this type of
social interaction can also drive event attendance.
Especially in the political world, people tend to
be happier with tools that are built or adapted for Better design through better data.
them. Sure, some solutions will work for a small race.
And of course, you can hire someone who can pro- Don’t forget bells and whistles. Relationships are
gram some of the customization for you. But when important, but when it comes to cultivating people
it comes to national politics and political parties with online, the creative element is also very important.
250 million records, then the “standard solution” be- People respond to different messages, colors, and
comes part of the problem. designs. A good CRM application should help you
track what compels people to give or vote or act. For
example, you should be able to track whether the

@ Blue State Digital provides

technology and strategic guidance
to political groups, campaigns and
people on your fundraising list respond more to a red
contribute button than a blue contribute button, or if
a 14-point Verdana is better than 14-point Arial, or if
businesses. For more information, position X is more important than Y and Z.
visit www.bluestatedigital.com. Email is no different than direct mail: both require
a lot a testing. Once you test a message, track prefer-
ences. Then use your creative team to decipher which
The ideal political CRM application doesn’t exist
messages resonate with which members of your au-
... yet.
dience. Frame them in an easy-to-forward way.
In terms of dollars per lines of code, a CRM ap- This is where people come into play. Sometimes
plication will be the most expensive part of your on- technology is not the one true solution. Sometimes
line campaign. Once you’ve sunk a lot of money into the solution involves one additional element: people.
your CRM application, then you’d better stick with it. Whether they are your constituents or your staff, lis-
It becomes your foundation, and changing it, like any ten (and learn) from the people surrounding your
major renovation, acquires a lot of cost. campaign or political group.
Keep this in mind while you shop for a CRM solu-
tion: before you buy, invest time and money in one



CHAPTER 12 telling you what I think. However, dialogue over a pe-

riod of time, the long-haul back-and forth activity of
questions and answers is precisely what CRM is all
about. It simply is not something that the short-term
The End of the campaign world has embraced, historically speaking.
Again, campaigns are about selling a message, not
Campaign and the building ongoing conversations with voters.
So, how do you transition to from campaign mode
Beginning of Elected to life in elected office? And how can your office use
relationship management practices to manage all the
constituent mail that you’ll receive in the weeks and
Office: months ahead?

Correspondence Don’t let the letter “C” fool

Management and you. The difference between
CRM and CMS...
CRM means something very different to each
type of political player. In official elected office, it
DANIEL BENNETT is not called CRM. It is called CMS – Correspon-
INSTITUTE FOR POLITICS, DEMOCRACY & dence Management Systems. Don’t confuse
THE INTERNET it with the other CMS – Content Management
System, which helps manage your Website. For
The political world is divided: some of us have commercial interests, it is called Customer Re-
been using CRM for some time, while the rest of the lations Management software. Constituents,
industry has not. For example, the lobbying world ad- however, differ from customers, and custom-
opted CRM years before the campaign world, which ers differ from citizens who vote. They may all
is just beginning to experiment with it. And, some of start with the letter C, and they may all be the
the people who have been using CRM the longest are same people, but they function very differently.
actually members of Congress . . . but not the cam- If you’re thinking about purchasing a CRM pro-
paigns that help elect them into office. gram for your political campaign, then chances
are good that you may require some features
CRM is important because it gives an advan- that are not available on a standard, commercial
tage to candidates who use it, especially in elections CRM system.
where the margins are thin, both in terms of money
and time. However, constituent communications is
not something to be entered into lightly. Responding Why does such a rift in CRM use exist between
to constituents about the issues that concern them is campaigning and elected office? First, campaigns
politicking, even though it is not campaign politics. and elected federal office have rules that keep them
CRM for electronic communications began to devel- separate. They have different budgeting, different cal-
op on the Hill in 1993, based on fairly ornate CRM endars and different traditions. When in campaign
programs that, in turn, were based on old systems mode, the same person switches over completely
used for paper correspondence. from his or her role in the official office, which, day-in
In the ad hoc campaign world: politicking is main- and day-out, typically conducts CRM activities under
ly about pushing messages, not about responding the title of legislative correspondence.
to people. In other words, when a candidate gives a Of course, elected officials (and candidates) un-
campaign and speech, she might take questions, but derstand that it is important to respond quickly and
typically does not engage in back-and-forth dialogue meaningfully when they can, but their offices do
with each voter over a period of time. Campaigns not operate in hyper-paced campaign mode. While
generally do not have staff on hand to answer indi- most campaign managers staff their offices with field
vidual questions. Instead, campaign staff post issue workers – not to mention the volunteers – historically
papers – both very broad and very particular – on the speaking, campaigns have not had one dedicated
Website. This too is a push messaging practice. person responsible for voter relationship manage-
It’s not about personalizing communications to ment.
focus on “you, the individual person” interested in Members of Congress, in their official capacity,
the campaign. Rather it’s about “me, the candidate” are involved in literally hundreds of different issues,



and they have dedicated, long-term staff to sort and

respond to constituent communications. There is no
way a campaign field staff has either the historical
What will your campaign $
memory of how an elected official acted on an issue buy you?
or the ability to go to the congressional office to find
out. And, honestly, if a topic that interests a voter is In order to develop a competent CRM sys-
off-message, then they do not want to talk about it tem, start from day one. Campaigns with plenty
anyway. of money can buy a list of the email addresses
The second issue is time. Compared to the and work with vendors and campaign staff to de-
amount of time one spends in elected office, the sign an online administration campaign that will
campaign season is incredibly short. Once elected, pull people into their database and coordinate
our representatives assume they will hold office for with their off-line campaign. Enough money can
at least two years and possibly for six, eight, or even buy an instant, gold-plated CRM system able to
twenty. Building a list and cultivating people is much handle hundreds of thousands of in-coming and
easier over time because people will write regularly, out-going messages from day one of your cam-
and the office can collect that correspondence to tai- paign.
lor their outreach. Can’t spend a fortune? Consider purchasing
Compare this to big campaigns, which generally a small list at the beginning of your campaign
last two years or less. Many candidates are first-tim- to help cultivate donors, and put their money to
ers and lack a tradition of constituent correspondence good use by buying a CRM system that works
that is built with experience in elected office. Most for you, a bigger list, or a dedicated CRM staff.
campaigns start with no list and must build it from Remember, smaller CRM programs are available
scratch. People don’t typically write to candidates: to more local races. If you’re a small race, you
candidates have to reach out to them proactively. Fi- don’t have to spend a fortune to use CRM.
nally, campaigns spend a lot of time at the beginning Remember, time is an issue. The sooner you
thinking about the message and organizing logistics. begin your CRM program, the better. You cannot
They might not have to time to deal with a database wait until late August to use CRM in a November
or CRM strategy. CRM is not going to be simple: it election. CRM is something that you need to
has to be used to respond in a timely manner, ad- think about in March, April, May – if not sooner.
dressing the specific issues of individuals while stay- If you are going to try to be a successful Con-
ing on message. gressional or Senate, then you want to reach a
Technology, however, is making CRM more pos- half-million to a million-plus voters. Start early,
sible for politics and allowing more one-to-one inter- even if you have to start with a less expensive
action between campaigns and voters in less time program.
and with fewer staff. It makes it possible for an or-
ganization to use very sophisticated infrastructure
that would normally take months of time and years of Consider buying a list at the beginning of your
institutional memory to create. New CRM software campaign. – Most candidates simply do have a ready-
can shortcut many of the problems with typical CRM made list going into the beginning of a campaign.
and allow the type of candidate-voter interaction that Buying a list becomes crucially important.
was not possible before. With email and electronic Think beyond your list. – Perhaps more important
communication, campaigns, for the first time, can than actually having a list is knowing how to use it.
distribute and organize trackable messages coming Lists are a cultivation tool, so plan your communi-
in and going out individually. cations strategy ahead of time. All the technology in
Further, with CRM, campaigns are able to concen- the world will not get your campaign anywhere if you
trate for the first time on hitting smaller audiences have neither a good message nor a game plan for us-
through microtargeting or simply by listening to their ing CRM.
precinct captains. Even small, but important, on-the- Manage expectations. – Your campaign is not a
ground communications that the campaign was ei- commercial enterprise with a customer service de-
ther not aware of in the past or could not control can partment, but that doesn’t mean that CRM should
be a part of a centralized communications program. be a second-class part of your campaign. Most cam-
Much of the information exchange in a seemingly ca- paigns probably cannot handle a huge influx of mes-
sual manner can be used to assist campaign staffers sages and respond both personally and quickly. Es-
on the local level. Further, campaigns can tailor mes- tablish a process for handling correspondence and
sages efficiently, hitting 10 people here, 20 people CRM issues down the road. How do you want CRM to
there whom they might not have been able to hit with improve your campaign? How do you want to shape
a broad-brush communications strategy. the conversation? Which messages do you want to
Let’s walk through that process. get out to which people? Be ready for it, and make
sure your expectations are on track. Your goal is to



keep people actively engaged in your campaign, and tion of your CRM system may be a smart choice.
that takes planning. Set standards for your information harvest. – Plan
Don’t ignore your voters. – You might not have what types of information you want to collect about
time to answer each new question thoroughly the voters, how you collect it, and what you want to call
second you receive voter email. You can, however, it. Some of the old ways of political campaigns do not
still let people know that you appreciate their mes- necessarily work the same way in the CRM sphere.
sage. Design an auto response that says, “Hi, we are Be as specific as possible with the person who builds
very busy campaigning. Your message is important. your CRM system regarding subject codes or issue
We have volunteers trying to get back to you.” codes. Setting standards early will also help you de-
Not responding can cost you a vote. cide what the message of the campaign. When people
ask you a question, you can code their question, un-
Keep your feet firmly planted in the ground. – Use
derstand who they are, and respond to them quickly.
CRM to coordinate your online and offline efforts.
The business community uses the phrase “Up Sell,” Study geography. – Geotargeting – looking at peo-
which applies quite well to the voter cultivation pro- ple on your list based on their location and sending
cess. When a voter expresses interest in an issue them specific, location-based messages – can help
and seems to respond positively to your candidate’s bring the online and offline campaign together. The
stand, then you want to up-sell them. Are you inter- idea is to send local people local information, cen-
ested in this? Well, you tell a friend. So, you told a tralize your communications, volunteer, and GOTV
few friends? Purchase a lawn sign. Bring them up the programs, and empower people at the local level to
cultivation process and make them feel wanted. carry your message for you. For example, enable vol-
unteers in a local area to sign up on a map on your
Know your supporters. – You are building a re-
Website that will show your precinct captains where
lationship with voters, while juggling a dozen other
they live and where to meet.
balls at once. You need to know how to respond
to people, where, when, and how. At a very basic Think like a salesman. – CRM systems can be used
level, this means sending messages based on demo- for traveling salesmen who responded to a central of-
graphic information, which you can collect yourself fice but had their own, local territories. Campaigns
and purchase as part of your list. Many campaigns may be good at issuing top-down messages, but they
do not have the capacity to do more than this. On a need to learn to develop a way for local volunteers or
more complex level, knowing your supporters means staffers to report back up the pipeline.
responding to them through their preferred medium CRM can help campaigns coordinate all the thou-
and at the day of day that’s right for them. Campaigns sands of individual interactions from each volunteer,
can also adapt polling information and use it to com- and then display those interactions for each local co-
municate with people based on the issue that matter ordinator come on a minute-by-minute basis for an
to them. instant update on the campaign. Campaigns can ac-
Don’t be embarrassed to outsource your CRM tually code their databases to pinpoint the best volun-
technology. – CRM and tools like data-mining are so teers for things on a local level. Taking my last point
new that many in the political world simply have not into consideration, mapping is a much easier way for
developed the skill set to use them effectively, nor people who are not highly skilled data people to be
does the political industry posses an infrastructure able to quickly see and understand the ramifications
for a politics-specific CRM industry, such as the po- of the work being done by people on the ground. A
litical polling industry. At the same time, many cor- good CRM system can make all that possible.
porate CRM systems have become a bit more cam-
paign-friendly. The pricing models are changing. For
the time being, outsourcing the technical administra-






CRM for Advocacy and

Political campaigns aren’t the only organizations that can benefit from con-
stituent relationship management. The nonprofit world and the advocacy com-
munity also have a lot to gain. The authors in this section look at how rela-
tionship management practices work in the nonprofit context, and they offer
practical applications for fundraising, messaging, and volunteer recruitment
– whether your nonprofit is a one-person shop or a large, international entity.



CRM brings the total
institutional relationship
Finding the with a supporter under a
Lifeblood of Your single roof.

Nonprofit For those so afflicted, here are three easy steps

for a painless transition to the cutting edge.

JASON ZANON 1. Tools are great, but data is king.

Most CRMs offer a menu of activism tools that
probably go well beyond your immediate needs. If
Just as every army travels on its stomach, every you’ve never before thought of running “meetups” or
NGO travels on its data. For fundraising, advocacy, “ride boards” on your site, having them suddenly at
case management, communications and every way a your fingertips can feel a little like Christmas morn-
nonprofit touches its community, good information ing.
has always been the lifeblood of the third sector. That’s great. But it’s important to keep focused
And the Internet has given it a shot of adrena- on a CRM’s main deliverables. Any robust CRM
line. should meet most organizations’ core feature needs,
Data management that would have been too ex- such as:
pensive for the best-heeled entities just a few years
ago is increasingly at the fingertips of every organiza- • Mass email blasting.
tion, empowering a panoply of heretofore unimagi- • Online donations.
nable strategic choices. Increasingly, even small • Action pages like write-your-rep and peti-
organizations are turning to advanced Constituent tions.
Relationship Management systems (CRMs). • Event registration.

In the scheme of things, it's not minor differences

in these tools or the presence of features you weren't
@ DemocracyInAction.org is a
nonprofit organization that provides
e-advocacy tools to progressive
expecting to have that determines the success of your
online ventures – it's data. The ability to gather it ef-
ficiently, manage it creatively, and access it readily are
nonprofits. For more information, what CRM systems are all about. Look for:
www.democracyinaction.org. • Customizability. Almost everyone needs to
manage some information specific to their
group or issue that won’t be built into the
CRMs, in a nutshell, offer one-stop access to a tool off the shelf. You need to be confident
package of advanced online tools that can enable any that the CRM systems you’re evaluating are
nonprofit to project a sophisticated online presence, capable of handling that information.
all built around a single, integrated data core.
• Reporting. Once data is logged in the sys-
Where once a grassroots organizer might have tem, can you use it? Customizable reports
her own list of activists, a development department that let you compare information in new
its separate (partially overlapping) database of do- ways will let your CRM really rock.
nors, and a state chapter of the national organization
its own uncoordinated versions of the same, a CRM • Integration. The tools in the system should
brings the total institutional relationship with a sup- be naturally integrated with each other, of
porter under a single roof. That not only streamlines course. But the ability to play well with oth-
data maintenance and information-sharing, but al- ers is important, too. Avoid vendor lock-in
lows the organization to understand its community and look for flexible import/export capabili-
in a ways that would have been impossible before. ties. Increasingly, CRMs are also opening
APIs, or Application Programming Inter-
The drawback in this brave new world is the age- faces, to enable organizations with more
old technological conundrum: bewildering multiple complex needs to sync with external data
choices leave many nonprofit staffers struggling to sources as well.
evaluate services well outside their comfort zone.



do before. Given the minimal expense of ex-

Buying a gym membership perimentation and the rapid development
won’t make you fit, and of new ways to operate online, you’re sell-
ing yourself short if you don’t try out a few
buying a CRM won’t make things you’re not really sure about. Caution:
you MoveOn. You have to you may inadvertently become the new ex-
put in the sweat equity to pert in what you’re trying.
get the most out of either.
3. It’s Still All about People
No matter how little your expertise of Internet
2. Management and Strategy Count More than Soft- tools, you have a critical resource that no consultant
ware can match: you know your issue and your commu-
Buying a gym membership won’t make you fit, nity.
and buying a CRM won’t make you MoveOn. You
have to put in the sweat equity to get the most out of
While techniques for email communications or
No matter how little your
the best ways to get blog buzz for a campaign may expertise of Internet tools,
not be immediately intuitive, they’re skills that can be you have a critical resource
learned – and there are plenty of free online resources that no consultant can
to help.33 Many consultants can also outsource pub-
licity, message development, and every other part of
match: you know your
your web strategy. issue and your community.
Even when using a consultant, though, you should
be prepared to put hours into routinely working with
your platform, if only to develop a feel for the way At the end of the day there’s nothing about on-
your campaigns unfold. line communications that’s truly arcane, and all the
data in the world shouldn’t obscure the fact that it’s
still real people on the other side of the click-through
• Report, report, report. If you can set a dash- rates, motivated by things that motivate the people
board of basic reports you’ll need over and you work with all the time. Things like:
over, so much the better. Did we mention
that data is king? Only if you actually look at
it. • Free stuff. Giving away useful resources on
a site is a great way to attract eyeballs.
• Test. Often neglected, even occasional
controlled tests of, for instance, compet- • Winning. Being transparent about the cam-
ing solicitation strategies to separate target paigns you run, and especially letting people
panels will help you hone your tactics. The know when they’ve been part of something
ability to test cheaply and sometimes in little successful, makes them enthusiastic about
more than a few hours is a great underrated doing it again. Surprisingly few organiza-
benefit of CRMs – as anyone who’s plowed tions actually follow up well with their online
thousands of dollars into direct mail panels supporters.
should appreciate. • Having fun. A light touch goes a long way
• Convert online passion into offline action. online. Humor is the common thread of
You’ll use online actions, of course, and many viral marketing campaigns.
some people on your list may never want to
do more than that. But the ne plus ultra of It’s an old fundraising maxim that “people give to
Internet advocacy is getting a slice of peo- people with causes.” Even if a few techniques need
ple to take action in the flesh: to attend (or re-learning, the fundamentals of organizing, market-
host) a meetup, walk a precinct, run 5K for ing and communication are still the best road map of
charity and sign up their friends as donors. cyberspace.
• Take some chances. A CRM ought to give All you need is a little data to travel on.
you the tools to do some things you couldn’t

33 One of the best current introductory resources

is “Online Politics 101: The Tools and Tactics
of Online Political Advocacy,” available free at



CHAPTER 14 of voters characterized by geography, precinct, race/

ethnicity or group membership; now sophisticated
campaigns can reach out to voters as individuals,
blending voter file data with polling research, issue
Not Just for Political identification, and support modeling scores to cre-
ate a more efficient and personalized contact model.
Candidates: Advocacy groups and campaigns can find and acti-
vate supportive voters outside of traditional con-
stituencies or geographic strongholds…if they can
successfully navigate the difficulties of working with
Voter Files and voter files.

Constituent Advocacy groups and

Relationship campaigns can find and
activate supportive voters
Management outside of traditional
constituencies or
geographic strongholds…if
MOMSRISING.ORG they can successfully
navigate the difficulties of
Integrating voter file data into your organization’s working with voter files.
overall constituent relationship management strat-
egy creates increased efficiencies and greater under-
standing of constituent support, prospective donors, What is voter file data?
and valuable activists. Voter file data is the core of Unlike most CRM data, which is provided by sup-
any individualized constituent outreach strategy; un- porters, contributors, or volunteers, the primary
derstanding the demographics, voting history, geo- source of all voter file data is public data on registered
graphic location, and distribution across precincts of voters. Each county or municipality maintains active
supporters and potential supporters allows a cam- rolls of registered voters; the data collected can be
paign or advocacy group to craft a cost-effective vot- unique to each county or state. Basic contact infor-
er contact plan. mation is collected everywhere – name, date of birth,
registration date, address, voting districts (including
precinct). Most states collect data on gender, and a
few on race/ethnicity. Counties usually have a record
@ MomsRising.org is a grassroots
online effort consisting of more
than 70,000 members and fifty
of voters’ participation in previous elections, but this
information is stored in different formats and often is
not uniform for a state as a whole.
aligned national organizations to
Some states require that voters register as a
create positive national and state- member of a political party in order to vote in that
level solutions on paid family leave, party’s primary. Others allow for open voting in party
children’s health, childcare, flexible primaries and track which voters participate in each
work, and realistic and fair wages. primary, while some collect no party registration data
For more information, visit www. whatsoever. An increasing percentage of voters de-
momsrising.org. cline to affiliate with a political party, even in states
where it is possible to do so. Some states restrict
who can access the public voter file records, requiring
Unfortunately voter file data is notoriously non- that the data be used for political (not commercial)
standard, incomplete, and out-of-date, and these in- purposes.
consistencies create challenges for advocacy groups Historically, each state set (or failed to set) its
working in multiple states or legislative districts or in own standards for voter file data management.
an area with poor quality data. Creating a standard Some states have had centralized, accessible, stan-
CRM data management strategy for a national orga- dardized voter file records for years, while others
nization is a daunting task because of the variation in continued to maintain paper records at the county or
voter file data access, data components and formats municipal level until very recently. HAVA (the Help
between states and jurisdictions. Campaigns and America Vote Act of 2002) set minimum standards
candidates traditionally communicated with groups



for state-level voter information management, but ‘enhanced’ often benefit from an additional round of
not all states have fully complied, and access to and phone number matching (provided by yet another set
accuracy of statewide databases varies widely. of vendors).
Much of the country continues to be a patchwork
of county-level data collection that results in missed
opportunities for voter contact for campaigns and Independent candidates
advocacy groups. HAVA requires “a single, uniform,
official, centralized, interactive computerized state- and advocacy groups
wide voter registration list defined, maintained, and are sometimes able to
administered at the State level” – but each state sets purchase data from a local,
up its own systems, and they each collect different
types of data. You can find a report on the status
state, or national party,
of each state’s HAVA compliance at ElectionOnline. but often rely on voter file
org. vendors to supply data.

While the original public data sources only maintain

Want to learn more about information on registered voters, some voter file ven-
dors also include information on unregistered indi-
the Help America Vote Act? viduals, useful for conducting voter registration activ-
ities. This list is compiled by comparing commercial
ElectionOnline.org – The nation’s only non-par- mailing lists with the voter files. Most voter file data
tisan, non-advocacy website providing news and companies add some data to the basic information
analysis on election reform. Produced by the obtained from public sources, updating phone num-
Election Reform Information Project bers and addresses (with National Change Of Ad-
dress data from the US Post Office), and sometimes
The Federal Election Commission’s HAVA page appending consumer or census data.
– Contains the text of the law, along with more Consumer data can include information on marital
information, at http://www.fec.gov/hava/hava. status, number of children, cars owned, or magazine
htm. subscriptions and comes from sources like InfoUSA
or Acxiom, while census data includes imputed eth-
nicity, income levels generalized from community av-
What’s the best way to access voter file data? erages.
Candidates, PACs and advocacy groups often get Some of the major voter file vendors include
their voter file data from different sources: voter files Catalist, Aristotle, and Blaemire. There are many
can come directly from counties or states, a state others, and some of them are even included in this
party, a national party, or a for-profit voter file ven- publication. Many vendors serve primarily one side
dor. It’s possible to get a computerized list of voters of the partisan divide, while a few are nonpartisan.
directly from some counties – this can be the most Whatever your data source, it’s important to find out
economical option if you’re working on a local cam- when the data was most recently updated, the per-
paign or issue, but the data will be in very raw form centage of missing data in key fields (if you’re plan-
and it may be incomplete or inaccurate. In some ning a phone outreach project, you need to know
places, multiple vendors as well as state parties have how many records have phone numbers), and to run
extensive data files on voters. In a few states, the some overall counts so you understand what you’ve
challenges of compiling an accurate voter file have got.
been much more extensive, so that one vendor has a Many vendors now have interactive, web-based
near-monopoly on the information. data systems where you can request and receive data
Both major parties maintain extensive enhanced on a specific group of target voters (all registered Re-
national voter file records, which are available to can- publicans 35-80 living in the 14th congressional dis-
didates at different stages of the campaign cycle (for trict). Most vendors will also provide a number of
example, once a candidate has won a primary s/he options for how you receive the data (.csv files, walk
can usually access the state party’s data – the pre-pri- lists, phone calling lists, etc.).
mary situation varies). Independent candidates and
advocacy groups are sometimes able to purchase
What is modeling? Do I need it?
data from a local, state, or national party, but often
rely on voter file vendors to supply data. One of the For states without party registration, campaigns
many challenges in using this data is the difficulty create statistical models based on enhanced voter
in comparing the relative accuracy of data available file data, survey results, and vote history data to cre-
from different sources; even voter files that have been ate turnout and candidate support scores for each



voter. A campaign will conduct a poll and record Bank). While open-source CRM solutions (CiviCRM,
support for each candidate, then a statistical con- Advokit) could be useful for small-scale voter file data
sultant will use the results to project out support management, most are not capable of dealing with
probabilities for different demographic/geographic large numbers of records/transactions efficiently,
subgroups within the voter file. Partisan organiza- and require customization to preserve voter file data
tions also provide precinct-level data on past election fields.
performance for local geographies in local, state, and While some national campaigns and organizations
national elections, which can be another useful tool build their own voter contact technologies (MoveOn.
in constructing a support model. org, AFL-CIO, RNC), most organizations find their
Models have also been developed to estimate the GOTV or persuasion targets (using their own or a
likelihood that an individual voter will vote – to help voter file vendor’s data manipulation tools) and then
determine who needs turnout messages. Even if a forward this data to other service providers (direct
political group has the resources to create a support mail vendors, telephone outreach firms). Whatever
model for its issue or candidate, it’s often challeng- the scale of the campaign, maintaining and updating
ing to know how best to utilize a modeled support voter file data (appending the results of a vendor’s
score for an individual voter. Campaigns must make voter ID calls, for example) requires some level of in-
decisions about which deciles of turnout likelihood house technical expertise. Few campaigns accurately
to focus on, and where to set the floor for candidate measure the impact of their voter contact activities;
support. This becomes more even more challenging one reason is the technical challenges of maintaining
in volatile races shifting close to Election Day. Mod- and referencing consistent voter file data.
els can be constructed for issue or candidate support.
It’s important to assess the usefulness of a model;
Why is voter file data difficult to work with?
testing its accuracy with ongoing IDs or by testing its
predictive value on a reserved polling sample. Not all Some of the challenges for maintaining a respon-
models are equally useful or predictive. sive CRM solution that incorporate voter file data in-
clude volatility of the data, inaccuracy, and inconsis-
tency of formats. Voter file information is not static;
for a political organization to be effective, it must be
Even if a political group has able to incorporate information on under-the-wire
the resources to create a new registrants, and early and absentee voters.
support model for its issue Voter file vendors or data management systems
or candidate, it’s often that don’t preserve all the possible unique identifiers
that a county or state may have used in compiling its
challenging to know how voter file make it challenging to incorporate early or
best to utilize a modeled absentee vote results available in electronic formats
support score for an directly from some counties.
individual voter. For example King County, Washington makes
available the IDs for voters whose absentee ballots
have been received, allowing smart campaigns to re-
I’ve gotten data on voters in my legislative district, move those who have already voted from pre-elec-
how do I use it? tion GOTV activities, increasing efficiency. New
registrants may be added to files not long before an
Once voter file data is acquired, there is the ad- election takes place, requiring last-minute updates of
ditional challenge of managing and manipulating it. data files. While some vendors procure and provide
Some of the vendors listed above provide web-based updated file information as part of the cost of buying
interfaces that allow for dynamic creation of voter the data, many more do not.
lists in different formats, for different purposes, there
are software tools designed to allow campaigns and Voter file data often varies based on where it was
advocacy groups to make use of voter file data. One collected: some counties in a state may keep records
example of this type of software is the Voter Activa- of the last 10 elections, while some may only have us-
tion Network, used by many state Democratic Party able data on the last three – and the voter file source
organizations to access and work with their voter file may not be able to tell you which counties are which.
data. Careful review and quality assurance of any analysis
or manipulation of voter file data is essential to avoid
One limitation of most of the voter file software potential pitfalls of mismatched data, queries that
management systems is their lack of ability to inte- produce unexpected results, and potentially missed
grate with other key campaign software tools (fund- opportunities to contact supporters or persuasion
raising and volunteer management programs, email targets. Files from different states may store data
communication tools), although there are some plat- very differently: while most files have a separate field
forms that are moving towards providing this type for each recent election, some store data on the last
of seamless integration (NGP Software, The Data



four elections in one field. possible with precinct-level data.

Currently, the source or vendor for voter file data Software vendors may move towards adapting
often determines how easy it is to share important data standards that allow for easier importing/ex-
data with collaborators. For example, two environ- porting/ and matching of data from different sources,
mental groups could have a difficult time swapping and new products and services are being developed
IDs they’d collected on a ballot initiative measure if and enhanced continually. Understanding and using
they started with voter files from different sources. voter file data effectively will become even more es-
If one source kept the county’s voter ID number, sential over the next election cycles, as organizations
and the other source kept the state voter ID number, and candidates compete to understand the connec-
the groups would need to be able to create a way to tions and motivations of their constituents more
match data using available name/ DOB/ address or accurately. Successful CRM could allow candidates
zip fields – made more challenging if the data com- and advocacy groups to build relationships with
ponents are formatted differently in each file. their constituents during and after elections, mov-
ing seamlessly between voter outreach and constitu-
ent communications through multiple phases of the
What are some risks in using voter file data?
campaign cycle.
The amount of information contained in an en-
hanced voter file record can be overwhelming. It’s
important to remember that targeting too narrowly
may reduce the impact of your communication strat- Successful CRM could
egy; finding the 200 most supportive voters won’t allow candidates and
be helpful if you need to persuade 5,000 to win your advocacy groups to build
election. It’s also tempting to rely too heavily on data
that may not be useful; if you know that voters with relationships with their
fishing licenses are likely to support your issue, but constituents during and
only .1% of the constituents in the district have fish- after elections, moving
ing licenses, developing an elaborate marketing strat-
egy for those voters may not be cost-effective.
seamlessly between voter
outreach and constituent
communications through
Targeting too narrowly may multiple phases of the
reduce the impact of your campaign cycle.
communication strategy;
finding the 200 most
supportive voters won’t
be helpful if you need to
persuade 5,000 to win your

What are the next steps in incorporating voter file

data into CRM solutions?
While incorporating voter file data into CRM solu-
tions brings many challenges, the potential benefits
to campaigns and advocacy groups of being able to
understand which voters are also contributors and
volunteers will result in increasing efficiencies for
campaigns. Turnout and support modeling will be-
come available at lower cost to campaigns and ad-
vocacy groups at state and local levels earlier in the
campaign cycle. Several initiatives are underway to
support simpler web-based interfaces that would al-
low campaigns and groups without in-house techni-
cal skill to use voter file data quickly and easily. Ad-
vances in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
mapping allow for more sophisticated analysis of a
candidate’s geographic support distribution than is



@ Idealware provides candid
Consumer-Reports-style reviews
and articles about software
An Introduction of interest to nonprofits.
Through product comparisons,
to Integrating recommendations, case studies,
and software news, Idealware
Constituent Data: allows nonprofits to make the
software decisions that will help
them be more effective. For
Three Basic more information, visit
Approaches Integration is also critical in keeping your data
clean, updated, and useful. If someone updates a
LAURA S. QUINN34 phone number in one system, integration allows that
IDEALWARE new number to be updated in your other systems.
When information has to be updated in real time—
for instance, when a website visitor should see differ-
It can sound complicated, but it’s a simple con- ent information because they’ve just signed up as a
cept: integrating your constituent data means con- member—integration is the only way to do it.
necting the information from the various systems
you use in order to communicate with and track your But is this kind of integration possible in the non-
constituents, so that your organization can see a uni- profit world? Well, sometimes. The options for data
fied view. For instance, you might integrate an email integration aren’t as fully developed as one might
blasting software package with your donor database. like. If you’re hoping to integrate the software you
Linking these systems will allow you to email all your already have, you may be limited by the features that
donors (all those with email addresses, at least) from are available in those packages. That being said, there
your email blasting tool, and perhaps to view the are a number of methods worth considering.
emails sent and the donor’s responses from within In this article, we’ll walk through the three basic
your donor database. approaches to combining the data from different
Linking up your constituent data provides some sources: Manual Import/Export, Integrated Tools,
big advantages. For one, it allows you to get a com- and Automated Connectors. Each of these methods
plete view of your constituents. If Joan the develop- has its own strengths, weaknesses, and consider-
ment director is keeping her own email list in Con- ations. While the perfect solution may not exist, we
stant Contact, and Frank the volunteer coordinator is can at least help you understand your options.
keeping his volunteer list in an online volunteer man-
agement application, neither can take advantage of Integrating by Manual Import/Export
the potential opportunities in each other’s lists, and Joan’s organization is using an event registration
you can never get an overall picture of the ways each system to allow people to sign up for their conference
constituent is involved with your organization. online. They want to be able to see who’s registered
in their donor database, however, so they can get a
holistic view of not only who’s registered, but who’s
When information has to be updated in real time donated, who they’ve contacted, and more
– for instance, when a website visitor should see On a weekly basis, Joan goes through a check-
different information because he or she just list of tasks in order to manually integrate this data.
signed up as a member – integration is the only First, she goes to the registration software and, using
way to do it. that tool’s reporting features, exports a list of all the
people who have registered in the past week. She
then opens the exported file in Excel and changes the
order of the columns so that the Excel file is in a for-
mat that her donor database will understand.
34 Robert Weiner of Robert L Weiner Consulting Lastly, she goes to her donor database, and uses
(www.rlweiner.com/), Tate Hausman of Dot Or- its upload utility to upload the list of registrants from
ganize (dotorganize.net), Beth Kanter of Beth’s the Excel file. The donor database uses some com-
Blog (beth.typepad.com/), and Paul Hagan also bination of fields – perhaps first name, last name
contributed to this chapter.



and zip code – to identify which registrant should be • Requires greatest amount of ongoing
linked up with which donor. staff time. While the other methods
allow you to set up the integration pro-
The Details cess up-front and then let it run mostly
We’ll call this kind of integration “Integrating by untended, manual integration requires
Manual Import/Export.” In summary, a member of a continuing chunk of time from a staff
your staff manually exports data from one system and member.
imports it into another on a periodic basis. The time • Opens the door to human error and data
and effort required for this kind of manual integration issues. This option depends on a staff
varies greatly depending on how many data sources member consistently running through a
you are trying to integrate and how much work is re- potentially complicated series of steps.
quired to get the export file ready for import. In the Over time, human nature means that
above scenario, for instance, Joan had to change the mistakes are bound to occur, which can
order of the columns in order to get the export file into create incorrect data, duplicates, or miss-
the format required by the donor database. Another ing information.
system might not require her to do this, or it might • Requires careful integration plan and
require her to do more work – for instance, changing process. Like with the Automated Con-
the column labels as well. The scenario above might nector option below, manual integration
require about a half-an-hour per week for someone will require careful initial planning. You’ll
who was familiar with the process. need to define what fields you will use to
This option has a number of advantages: link the data (i.e. can you match constitu-
ents based on email address? Name and
zip code?). It’s also important to define
• Lowest initial investment. Manually in- which system will be the primary owner
tegrating data doesn’t require an initial of each piece of data – for instance, in
investment in programming time or Joan’s scenario, the event registration
software tools. Instead, the investment system was the owner of the event reg-
is shifted to staff time to plan the inte- istration list and the most up-to-date
gration process and then to perform the registrants, but the donor database was
manual updates over time. This can the owner of the full constituent list for
make it an affordable way to get started, the organization. Think carefully through
or to try out various options. the process – what happens when con-
• Allows the widest choice of software stituents are added? Removed? When
tools. Most software packages support information changes?
at least a basic import and export, so • Time lag in information sharing. The
you’ll have the widest variety of software data in one system will slowly go out-of-
options from which to choose. synch with the other in the time period
• Allows you to target software tools to between manual updates. For instance,
your specific needs. Integrating several in our example above, the donor data-
different tools, rather than using a single base is only updated with new registrants
integrated software package as described once a week, while the event registration
below, allows you to optimize functional- tool shows new registrants immediately
ity and price. If you need very robust do- after they register. This type of delay can
nor management functionality but just become problematic in specific circum-
basic email blasting capability, you can stances – for instance, if you want to
chose two different tools that meet your allow constituents to login to multiple
precise needs. systems with the same password, or to
• Flexibility in changing software packages show them data from one system based
down the road. Because there’s minimal on information from another.
upfront cost, your data integration strat- • Relies on a single staff member. One staff
egy doesn’t tie you to any particular piece member typically does all the manual in-
of software. If you need to swap out your tegration, which can lead to problems if
event registration tool for another one, that staff member goes on vacation or
for instance, the additional investment leaves the organization. If that person
for integrating the new tool is likely to be becomes overworked or frustrated, the
one of hours rather than days. integration process can stop altogether.
Careful documentation and training mul-
tiple people to do the manual process
But the method also has notable drawbacks:
can help.



• Integrating many data sources can be- fort, it’s certainly worth considering moving all your
come prohibitively complicated. Try- data into a single integrated package. This has a
ing to manually integrate several differ- number of substantial advantages:
ent databases requires juggling many
data formats and a multitude of files.
• No special integration effort or issues. The most
While carefully documenting the exact
obvious advantage is that, essentially, data inte-
sequence of steps and tasks can help,
gration is taken care of for you. Because all in-
the limitations of human concentration
formation for these various functions is stored in
mean that manual integration can’t scale
one central database, no staff time or planning is
to the same level as the other options.
needed to synch across multiple tools.
• Much lower danger of data inconsistencies. The
In general, this is a good option if you’re looking central database, and the fact that no data is ac-
to inexpensively integrate just a few data sources, tually being moved, makes the likelihood of data
without a big initial investment. It’s also a practical problems much lower with this option than with
way to get started in understanding what tools you others.
need and what data needs to be integrated. Don’t
• Common functionality can be “plugged in.” The
underestimate the staff time required, however, par-
larger integrated packages provide functionality
ticularly as the number of data sources increase. And
for most common needs—either out-of-the-box,
don’t discount the danger of accidentally introducing
or at an additional charge. This allows you to
problems into your data through inevitable human
conveniently add on functionality down the road,
without the need to search for another software
What does a software package need to provide to package.
support manual integration? Make sure that the tool
• A single contact for support. If you have a ques-
allows you to export and import the actual fields you
tion or problem, it’s easy to figure out who to
are trying to synch up. Flexibility in the column order
call. You’re only working with one vendor.
and the file names used for the import/ export files is
also very useful. If you are trying to integrate a pack- • Data is updated in real time. As all the data is
age that will only export in one specific format with in the same database, there is never a time when
one that will only import in a different specific for- any information is out of synch. This is impor-
mat, you will have to transform the data file each time tant if you want to allow constituents to be able
you want to synch the data. In addition, the ideal to login to multiple systems with the same pass-
system will automatically check for duplicate records word, or to show them information from one
after each import, enforce your data entry rules (e.g., system based on information from another (so
states must be upper-case), and allow you to review for instance, if you want to allow them access to
changes before they are posted. a member section of your website immediately
upon registering as a member).
Using Integrated Packages
But an integrated package is not the solution for
George’s organization needs to be able to accept
every organization. There can be some distinct draw-
both online and offline donations, mail direct ap-
backs, depending on your situation and needs:
peals, send emails, register people for events, and
track and manage their list of constituents. They’ve
chosen one software package that supports all of • Requires you to migrate all existing data. For
those functions. This means that George uses a sin- those who are established with constituent com-
gle online administration tool to see and manage all munications or tracking applications already,
the information about each of the constituents with there’s a huge downside to integrated applica-
which they’ve interacted. tions: you need to abandon your existing soft-
ware and move all of your data into the integrated
tool. Make sure everyone on the team is ready to
The Details
give up your current software and to learn to use
The challenge of sharing data between multiple a new tool. On the other hand, if you’re operating
applications has led to a whole new category of soft- from Excel spreadsheets and slips of paper, the
ware: integrated packages. These applications pro- move to a new system may provide the impetus
vide many different functions that all use the same and rallying cry needed to centralize all your data
central database. Your information is completely into a usable form.
synched up and interconnected because you’re only
• Jack of all trades, master of none. Most inte-
using one application as opposed to many different
grated software packages are built around a core
ones which may not quite talk to each other.
functionality – for instance, event management
If you’re looking to do a wholesale integration ef- or email blasts. While they have built on many



additional functions, these features are often not integration was very important to them, but the man-
nearly as strong as the core ones. If you need ual import/export process was not working as well as
features in three divergent areas, you’re likely to it could. It took too much of Joan’s time each week,
get more robust functionality in three separate and they really wanted to be able to use their donor
tools rather than one integrated package. database to see a list of event registrants that was
• High dependency on a single vendor. When always up-to-date.
you’re relying on a single vendor for a lot of criti- Joan hired a programmer to create an automated
cal functions, it’s a big mess if that vendor goes connection between the two systems. Now, when-
out of business or moves in a direction unfavor- ever someone registers for an event, an automatic
able to your needs. process is kicked off. The registrant’s information is
• Difficulty in extending functionality. It may not sent to the donor database, and the records in the
be easy to fit in functionality that the integrated donor database are reflected to show the registration
package hasn’t planned for. While some pack- in real time.
ages offer partnerships with other specialist
tools, moving beyond the functionality provided The Details
by the out-of-the-box application may require
In many ways, integrating through automated
either costly customization, or connecting your
connectors is similar to Manual Import/Export. Data
integrated application with additional software
is pulled from one application and added in to anoth-
tools though either a Manual Import/Export or
er. Instead of doing this process by hand, however,
Automated Connectors integration method.
an automated connector allows the data to flow from
• Sizable ongoing cost. While technically-savvy or- one system from another without human interven-
ganizations may be able to make use of free open tion.
source solutions in this area, most organizations
How do you make this automated magic hap-
will need to “rent” a hosted application for a
pen? Some high-end software packages provide out-
monthly fee. Fees vary widely depending on the
of-the-box automated connectors which allow them
features available, but can range from about $50
to easily talk to particular other software packages.
to thousands of dollars per month.
And for some tools, particularly open source ones,
you can find community-built modules that can be
If your needs fall into common scenarios (for in- used to create automated connectors with minimal
stance, you’re strongly focused on advocacy, online setup. But most of the time, creating a connector
outreach, or serving a base of members) and you will require a development process – careful design,
don’t have strong established systems already, an programming, and testing to create a program that
integrated tool can be a great way to go. If you’re synchs up the data between the two systems.
thinking through options for a new organization, or Not every software package can be integrated by
you’d like to pull together a number of diverse datas- automated connector, however. In order to create
ets, an integrated tool is well worth considering. But a connector, you need to be able to access the soft-
make sure you consider the drawbacks: you’ll be de- ware’s data via code. This means that the software
pendant on the success of a single vendor, and you’ll vendor needs to provide an application programming
likely have less flexibility to meet unusual needs. interface (API) – a way to request or provide data via
When looking at integrated packages, it’s criti- code – or otherwise expose the data. Some software
cal to consider the range of needs that they cover. packages provide this type of access to the database,
Because the key benefit is the all-in-one nature, try but many do not. Others charge to be able to use an
to find a package that meets not only your current API. Some provide access, but in ways that makes it
needs, but also likely future needs. In addition, ask complicated to integrate. What your software tool
careful questions about the user base and long term allows is a key consideration in thinking through
viability of the vendor.35 If you’re going to put all your whether this method is right for you.
eggs in one basket, make sure that it’s a sturdy bas- This is a powerful integration method, with a
ket. number of sizable advantages:

Integrating through Automated Connectors • Can use targeted, best-of-breed tools. As dis-
Let’s go back to Joan’s organization, which want- cussed above, tools that concentrate on doing a
ed to synch up its event registration information with single thing well are often more powerful than
its donor database. Over time, they found that this integrated packages. Selecting the very best ex-
isting tools for your needs and then integrating
them yourself is likely to provide the most robust
35 See the article Vendors as Allies: How to Evalu- support for sophisticated needs.
ate Viability, Service, and Commitment at http://
www.idealware.org/articles/vendors_as_allies. • More options for integration and aggregation. If



you’re building your own connectors, you have tecture (i.e. exactly how do the systems talk to
precise control over what the integration pro- each other?), design the business rules (which
cess does. This also allows flexibility for more system has the definitive record? what happens
sophisticated data aggregation strategies – for with duplicates?), build the connector, and then
instance, if you are integrating many systems, it thoroughly test it.
might make sense to feed the data into a single, • Dangerous if done poorly. It’s critical to invest
central “data warehouse” application rather than in carefully planning and testing automated con-
connect every system to every other system. nectors. A poorly executed connector can be
• Minimal ongoing investment. While there are much more damaging than a poorly thought
substantial up-front costs, this is the option that out manual import/export process, as there are
has the lowest ongoing cost. There’s unlikely to likely to be fewer controls to stop you from doing
be any ongoing fees associated specifically with things that will “break” your data, and it could
data integration, and staff time is required only touch thousands of records before anyone spots
to oversee the process, maintain the connectors, the problem.
and make any updates based on application up- • Maintenance. As with anything you build your-
grades, rather than investing substantial time in self, you’ll need someone on call to monitor your
manually updating data. data, make sure your connectors are working
• Data can be updated in real time. Depending on properly, update the connectors to any applica-
the type of data access the vendor provides and tion upgrades, and troubleshoot issues.
the type of connector you build, it’s possible to • Ties you to particular packages. If you invest
create connectors that synchronize information in building a connector to a specific package,
in multiple systems in real time. As discussed it’s harder to replace that package to meet new
above, this is useful in allowing users to login to needs or if the vendor goes out of business.
multiple systems with the same password, or to
show them information from one system based
on information from another. An automated connector between best-of-breed
applications is for most organizations the most de-
• Flexibility in swapping out software packages
sirable integration method – but building it yourself
down the road. This option provides middle-
requires a considerable investment. When looking
of-the-road flexibility for swapping out software
for software, factor in existing connectors to other
– more so than using an Integrated Package but
useful software packages as a huge benefit. If a
less than with the Manual Import/Export. If you
solid automated connector already exists, you get all
need to move to a new event registration tool, for
the benefits of this powerful integration method with
instance, you’re able to do so, but you’ll need to
little of the downside.
invest in building a new connector.
If no connector exists, however, does it make
sense to build your own? This is a good option for
If a connector has already been created to inte- tech savvy organizations who are ready invest in data
grate the packages you’re looking at, then all of these integration, especially those who find that their needs
advantages come with very little downside. For in- are not well met by the existing integrated packages,
stance, many high-end donor databases have part- or are committed to the tools they are already using.
nered with online donation or event management
If you’re looking at software packages with an eye
tools to seamlessly integrate the two software tools
towards one that can be integrated via automated
via automated connector. Other tools, like Salesforce.
connector, it’s critical to determine whether the pack-
com or open source applications allow community
age offers a method to access the data via code. Ask
members to create and share the code to integrate
your technical expert to evaluate the technical speci-
additional software packages. It’s highly desirable to
fication to make sure it’s compatible with the pack-
have such pre-existing connections, and worth look-
ages with which you’d like to integrate it. If real time
ing for as you select software.
integration is important to you, confirm that you have
If no pre-existing connector exists, however, you’ll the necessary system access to make that possible.
have to build this interface yourself. While certainly
possible (assuming, of course, that you can access
the software’s data via code), this is not a task to be Which One is Right for You?
undertaken lightly, and involves some substantial Which option is the right choice for you? As al-
drawbacks: ways, it depends. There are valid reasons to go with
any of the three of these. You’ll need to carefully eval-
uate your own needs and concerns, but the following
• High setup time or cost. You’ll need to either
decision tree can help you navigate some of the most
code the automated connector in house, or hire
common reasons for choosing one option over an-
someone to do so—a significant investment.
You’ll need to carefully plan the technical archi-



Whichever option you choose, don’t underesti- your ability to truly understand and connect with your
mate the planning element in all of this. Before you constituents.
purchase any software, make sure you have a data
strategy for the new system–how will the data relate
to your existing data? How will it be maintained? Re-
member that no system or option can keep your data For more information
clean and useful by itself. Someone – or multiple
people – in your organization will have to take owner- GETTING IT ALL IN ONE PLACE:
ship of the data, set data entry standards, and keep
watch to make sure that information flows usefully http://www.beaconfire.com/news/features/
across the organization. nten_presentation_data_integration.php
Data integration isn’t a trivial undertaking, but it’s
well worth the effort. Just imagine it: the assurance THE INTEGRATION PROCLAMATION
that the data in any system is the most accurate and www.IntegrationProclamation.com
up-to-date information you have. The ability to tar-
get communications based on a full picture of each
person’s involvement. And best of all… increasing



Constituent relationship
management is a necessary
catalyst for nonprofits to
Drive Advocacy and best utilize their greatest
Action with CRM asset: information.

CRM has become a vital tool for many nonprofit

JON THORSEN organizations. CRM systems offer the collection and
KINTERA INC. analysis of information critical to an organization’s
survival and allow the outcomes to be shared and
utilized across departments, chapters and even the
Customer relationship management has been entire organization. CRM systems provide the tech-
around in the corporate sector for years. It began nology necessary for improved business processes,
primarily as a sales application to help salespeople improved donor relationships and improved fund-
guide prospects through the sales cycle. Early CRM raising results – from beginning to end. Moreover,
applications allowed users to schedule calls, send nonprofit organizations want and need the free flow
emails, and register contracts and orders – with the of information that is essential to implement best
intention of developing and fostering the relation- practices and get internal players working from the
ships through the close of the sale. It proved to be a same set of data.
great management tool, even providing the ability to
report a sales pipeline and create revenue forecasts. Another major shift in the technology industry
Later versions added functionality that enabled mass has made CRM an application for all. Software as a
emails to be personalized, and segmented the data- service (SaaS) is the delivery of software via the In-
base into various groups. Functionality like this was ternet. Early in this publication, Daniel Burton dis-
cutting-edge, and organizations that used these CRM cussed SaaS in political campaigns. This chapter
applications reported an initial increase in sales and looks at SaaS for nonprofit organizations and advo-
greater ROI. cacy groups.
Prior to SaaS, organizations had to implement tra-
ditional client-server applications. These applications
were installed and housed on the organization’s own
@ Kintera provides a software
as a service technology
platform to manage email and
technology equipment. Organizations were forced
to purchase additional equipment needed to install
client-server database applications and, overtime,
communications, Websites, they found themselves incurring additional costs as-
events, advocacy programs, wealth sociated with hardware and software upgrades. For
screening and accounting. For more nonprofit organizations with tight budgets and lim-
information, visit ited cash flow, sudden and unpredictable costs are a
www.kintera.com. serious burden.
As it has in the corporate market, SaaS has also
proven extremely valuable to nonprofit organizations.
Today’s environment is far different than it was In the SaaS delivery model, CRM providers accept the
in the early days of CRM and applications are far dif- responsibility of software maintenance and house
ferent, too – especially in the nonprofit space. The data in offsite, secure data centers. Nonprofit organi-
nonprofit sector is approaching a crossroads. Or- zations do not have to incur the costs of equipment,
ganizations are striving to improve and evolve, but pay for minor updates or implement increasingly rig-
don’t necessarily understand the processes – or orous security measures. Because it is delivered via
change management – needed to continue growth the Internet, SaaS enables nonprofit organizations to
and streamline efficiencies. Constituent relationship view customer data from anywhere that has Internet
management is a necessary catalyst for nonprofits to access. This feature is extremely important for many
best utilize their greatest asset: information. political campaign workers that frequently work re-

Defining CRM for the Nonprofit Sector

CRM systems, when implemented adroitly, be-
come the central nervous system of an effective or-
ganization and introduce a set of processes and pro-



cedures for collecting detailed information on each ents, it is only a snapshot of constituent behavior.
individual constituent. Contact information can in- CRM provides political organizations and fellow
clude data captured automatically via the Internet or nonprofits with new views of the relationship be-
entered manually by staff. The most common type of tween the organization and its constituents that is
data includes demographic, behavioral, historical or most easily achieved in a SaaS model. It helps non-
event-driven data. The result is a truly holistic picture profits unite the online and offline experiences of
of the relationship between the organization and the constituents into a single view. Social CRM provides
supporter. nonprofits with critical data needed to build relation-
ships with donors, members, prospects, participants
and volunteers – all in a single, interactive system.
CRM systems, when
implemented adroitly,
become the central nervous CRM helps non-profit
system of an effective organizations
organization and introduce
a set of processes and • Manage constituents
procedures for collecting • Communicate with constituents
detailed information on • Increase the number of constituents
each individual constituent. • Maintain constituents
• Encourage behavior
• Develop an individual relationship with
Constituent relationship management systems
each constituent
help organizations leverage collected information
and manage relationships with contacts in an orga-
nized fashion. To include details provided in face-to- Some organizations may need to use all CRM
face conversations, many CRM systems enable staff features and some may only require the use a
members to add information to constituent records. few. It all depends on an organization’s mission
Organizations are then better equipped to determine and goals.
how to engage existing contacts and acquire new
Constituent relationship management systems 1. Building a Unified Database
are also frequently used to help organizations manage Organizations sometimes rely on multiple data-
relationships with donors. Information pertaining to bases to track interactions with constituents. There
donor demographics, custom information data sets, may be an address book or database in the email cli-
and promotion/transaction histories are maintained ent that contains basic contact information. There
in the CRM application. In addition, all donor activi- may also be a database at the website that tracks
ties and participant history can be viewed. Complex traffic and the interests of web visitors or a database
processes automate the management of individuals that tracks donations and each donor’s contact infor-
within units (families and sponsors) and track inter- mation. Other databases may track program-related
actions and relationships within and between units. information.
Donor management systems also help organiza- This separation of data inevitably leads to data
tions set up, plan, and execute financial development integrity issues, greater inefficiencies, higher costs,
efforts, institute accountability measures for staff and limited information. But above all, this separa-
and keep track of all donor-related historical activi- tion of data means lost opportunities.
ties. CRM offers a unified platform for managing
all the database functions mentioned above. Or-
The Concept of CRM ganizations using CRM can store a common set of
biographical, behavioral and historical information
Constituent relationship management is a tech- including online and offline interactions (email, di-
nology tool that records significant interactions with rect mail, phone messages, donations, registrations,
constituents. (For the majority of organizations, CRM and web interests). In addition, robust CRM systems
data is limited to sales and service information.) In- should utilize industry standard formats to help ease
formation on a constituent’s last donation amount the database migration process. The result is a sole
or campaign contribution is an example of the type contact/donor management system that meets the
of information political organizations and nonprofits organization’s entire database needs and provides
store in CRM applications. Although this information a comprehensive view of the relationship between a
helps organizations better understand its constitu-



constituent and the organization. prospect management, nonprofits can cre-

Changing database systems is a painful process ate custom stages to suit each organiza-
for many nonprofit organizations. But as they con- tion’s specific fundraising cycle and custom
tinue to understand that disparate systems and infor- form fields so staff can input information on
mation silos hinder growth – and recognize the orga- opportunities at each stage.
nizational benefit of shared knowledge – demand for 2. Volunteer management features help in-
CRM will continue to grow. crease volunteer involvement and stream-
line volunteer-related management, com-
munications, and registration processes.
2. Managing Websites
This also helps nonprofits recruit new vol-
A CRM system seamlessly integrates with a CMS unteers throughout the year, and enhance
(content management system), allowing for a back- image and goodwill in the community.
and-forth flow of information between the organiza-
3. Member management features allow mem-
tion’s website and database. Nonprofit and advocacy
bership-based organizations to efficiently
websites typically have interactive components that
increase their membership base and dona-
enable constituents to interact with one another and
tions through membership dues. Addition-
the organization according to shared interests. This
ally, members are able to securely view and
fosters a sense of community among supporters and
modify their membership profile and his-
allows them to work together toward a shared goal. It
tory. This feature helps decrease the need
also makes it easier to marshal action for particular
for manual entry, thereby saving time and
purposes and causes.
decreasing the chance of error.
By sharing content, goals and a common set of
data on a CRM system, volunteers, supporters, ac-
tivists and nonprofit employees can dramatically 4. Segmentation
enhance communications and community spirit. In- Segmentation is the ability to “slice and dice”
teractive features, such as bulletin boards and calen- the database based on specified characteristics. It
dars, drive the group to efficiently achieve advocacy is commonly used to identify constituents within a
and fundraising objectives while creating an extraor- specific geographic area or constituents of a certain
dinary sense of accomplishment and commitment. age group. Although these types of demographics
This type of website activity is then tracked and lever- are necessary, today’s environment requires organi-
aged in exciting new ways. zations to know constituents in a more personalized
Consider social networking and outreach tools. way. Organizations need to show constituents that
These outlets allow members to recruit friends, fam- they know who they are and what they like.
ily members or colleagues by sharing the cause with
their contacts. Organizations can help constituents
become advocates by providing tools like email and Segmentation is the ability to “slice and dice” the
Website communications. Supporters are provided database based on specified characteristics. It is
easy-to-use tools to build a personalized website. The commonly used to identify constituents within
supporter soon invites friends to become members a specific geographic area or constituents of a
of his or her community. These friends then register certain age group.
to receive additional information about the nonprofit.
All actions taken by the advocate, their friends and
their friends’ friends are tracked in the nonprofit’s Many CRM tools enable nonprofits to segment
database. This information can then be used to send the database based on individual preferences and
specific e-newsletters based on each constituent’s in- likes or dislikes. This level of segmentation enables
dividual interests. CRM enables nonprofits to gather a nonprofit organization to communicate with con-
and use this granular information, which is vital to stituents about things that are of interest to them.
developing and maintaining relationships with con- Let’s say Jane Doe is running for the House seat
stituents. in her district. She has a list of supporters in her
CRM application, and has gathered information such
3. CRM Applications for Specialized Needs as phone number, address, past volunteer activi-
A CRM system should include a set of features tai- ties, and so on. But Ms. Doe has gone a little deep-
lored for the multiple and varied ways in which sup- er and knows which issues are the hot buttons for
porters interact with the organization: each constituent in her database. She knows exactly
who shares her views on healthcare reform and who
shares her view on land use. Since Ms. Doe’s cam-
1. Prospect management enables nonprofit or- paign assistant knows that half of her healthcare sup-
ganizations to manage prospects through a porters don’t really care about land use policies, she
solicitation and/or stewardship cycle. With isn’t going to waste their time by sending information



about something that won’t engage them. Instead,

she is going to communicate about the work she is The full picture of a
doing on healthcare reform. supporter’s involvement
By communicating with constituents on issues with an organization does
that are of the most concern to them, Ms. Doe has
been able to develop greater loyalty among her not end at a source code or
healthcare supporters. Furthermore, Ms. Doe has click-through.
been able to demonstrate with these supporters that
she listens to their concerns and has taken action on
their behalf. She has successfully created a deeper, A CRM system should also provide quick macro
stronger bond with her healthcare supporters. views of advocacy campaigns and fundraising ef-
After two months of heavy campaigning, Ms. forts. Knowing what works and what doesn’t work
Doe’s assistant reviewed data from the campaign’s with each audience will allow organizations to refine
Website. The assistant found that almost half of Ms. and improve campaign results. CRM stores all sup-
Doe’s healthcare supporters had also clicked and porter information an organization may need in one
viewed pages on land use issues. These supporters place.
began to receive targeted information on Ms. Doe’s
land use policies. Over time, Ms. Doe grew her list Benefits of CRM
of land use supporters by 25 percent based solely on
her previous healthcare-only supporters. Ms. Doe’s Constituent relationship management has a vari-
campaign had successfully used its social CRM sys- ety of uses. Over the years it has evolved to become a
tem to convert prospective votes to definite votes. tool to manage donors, members, volunteers, pros-
This example demonstrates the effective use of CRM pects, supporters and advocates. But how does CRM
data and the power of such data to the organization and its sophisticated sibling, CRM, alter the way po-
and fundraiser. litical organizations conduct fundraising campaigns
and promote advocacy?

5. Reporting and Analytics

1. Unites front-end applications with back-end
Reporting and analytics are the back-end func- data applications. A social CRM system is
tions that demonstrate success and identify areas for designed to limit the amount of manual data
improvement. They provide both a granular view of entry. By gathering constituent information
constituent behavior as well as a landscape view. from a variety of sources and storing it all
A CRM system also includes reporting and ana- in a single database, nonprofit organizations
lytical capabilities to measure and assess the suc- are able to save time and money. Accruing
cess of constituent-based initiatives. Reporting tools more information directly from the support-
provide organizations with email open rates, click- er also leads to more thorough and accurate
through rates and length of time spent visiting a web information.
page. It is important to track this information to de- 2. Provides a full view of constituent interac-
termine which specific messages led the constituent tions. Because CRM gathers information
to open the email, which initiative inspired the donor from different sources and places it in a
to click through to an article or web page, which web single location, nonprofit organizations are
pages the constituent spent the most time reading able to get the broad view of constituent in-
and what they forwarded to their friends. Remember, teractions as well as the granular view. With
the full picture of a supporter’s involvement with an social CRM, nonprofits are able to determine
organization does not end at a source code or click- whether a particular constituent signed up
through. Therefore, reporting that demonstrates on the Web, was a friend of a volunteer and
constituent behavior after they click through is criti- donated to a particular issue, has a particu-
cal. Specifically, reporting and analytics should offer lar interest, or any other combination of in-
information that will allow nonprofit organizations formation.
to identify who supporters interact with, what rela-
tionships they have with other supporters, how many 3. Enable personalized communication. CRM
supporters they have recruited on behalf of the orga- applications have long had the ability to add
nization and what messaging or appeals inspire them the first name of the recipient to an email
to act. The inclusive reporting found in CRM systems blast. CRM takes personalized communi-
gives nonprofits valuable data to increase the success cation to a new level. By having data gath-
of grassroots mobilization and fundraising efforts. ered from multiple sources and stored in a
single location, social CRM gives nonprofit
organizations a better view of constituents
that ultimately leads to better, more relevant
communication pieces. This is the next level



What should I look for in a CRM solution?

1. Does it have the functionality you want and need? Will the solution allow you to do the types
of things you expect? Sometimes it can be hard to determine what functionality you want, and
whether a particular product delivers it, especially when you are looking at CRM for the first
time. A good tip is to go back and look at old events and campaigns to determine areas where
technology may have been helpful.
2. Does the CRM solution include applications tailored for your specific vertical or industry? For
example, if you’re an advocacy organization, make sure the solution allows supporters to drive
offline networking and organizing, such as tabling on college campuses, house parties, meet-
ups or even virtual parties on a supporter’s personal activism page. This type of interactivity
allows organizations to grow their network both online and offline. Nonprofits can leverage the
power of highly involved supporters without having to incur high administrative costs.
3. Is the system scalable? Will it be able to grow as your organization grows? It’s important to
identify whether the vendor offers a comprehensive solution or whether the vendor is limited
to just a few individual applications.
4. Is the application accessible via the Internet? This characteristic is especially important for
political campaign staffers who frequently travel. Web-based applications, like CRM, provide
staff with vital information no matter where they are.
5. How customizable is the solution? Can workflow be reconfigured to match, or help direct, your
organization’s processes? Will you be able to easily add and delete fields as your organization’s
goals and objectives change?
6. What security practices does the vendor have in place? How can they ensure your data is
secure? Make sure your SaaS vendor offers multiple data centers in commercial co-location
facilities with state of the art monitoring, full data encryption and advanced virus protection.
(This type of secure high-performance infrastructure would cost a nonprofit a fortune to rep-
licate either in-house or off-site in a shared hosting facility.) Also, is the vendor SAS 70 Type II
and PCI compliant?

of personalization. Personalization within a fundraising a vital component in any nonprofit orga-

CRM system means that constituent com- nization. Many organizations rely on donations and
munication is constituent-focused. It is in- gifts to survive, but a delicate balance must be kept
formation that the constituent has shown is when spending money to make money. Therefore,
important to him/her. nonprofits use a variety of tactics from events to e-
4. Reporting and analytics. Taken as is, report- newsletters to help increase donated dollars. CRM
ing and analytics are just another function of plays a significant role in effective fundraising ef-
CRM. Taken in a CRM system, reporting and forts.
analytics are the methods constituents use One of the most useful features in a CRM system
to communicate with an organization. When is the ability to analyze and evaluate online behavior.
constituents visit certain areas of a website Information about constituents based on their online
or read one article but not another, they are behavior holds clues to help fundraisers determine
providing vital information to the organiza- the most appropriate method to approach a partic-
tion. What constituents “don’t do” is just as ular constituent. With this information, fundraisers
important as what they do. Because CRM can engage constituents based on their interests. For
enables nonprofits to gather information example, if a constituent visited the site of a candi-
from multiple sources and store it in one date and they focused primarily on the pages that
location, nonprofits get a more comprehen- discussed the candidate’s stance on tax cuts and
sive understanding of their constituents. privacy laws, then fundraisers now know that these
two issues are of high importance to this constitu-
Fundraising ent. Subsequent communications will focus on the
candidate’s speeches, proposals, and actions related
A key goal of virtually all nonprofit organizations to these two topics. Chances are, this potential sup-
is to raise money to further their missions, making porter will be more open to these messages and have



a positive feeling associated with the candidate – and Advocacy

hopefully show it with a vote or donation.
For many political organizations, advocacy is the
key to inducing social change, and CRM is the foun-
dation that bolsters successful advocacy campaigns.
Do you want to engage your constituents? Then The ability to segment databases based on con-
watch what they do online. Information about stituents’ interests is quite useful for political advo-
constituents based on their online behavior cacy groups. Organizations are able to harness the
holds clues to help fundraisers determine the deep emotions of a select group of constituents to in-
most appropriate method to approach a particu- crease the effectiveness of advocacy. It can be argued
lar constituent. that there is no harm is mass mailing the entire da-
tabase. Perhaps someone not interested in the topic
knows someone who is. However, as discussed, con-
CRM helps nonprofit organizations increase fund- stituents become more invested in those organiza-
raising success in a number of ways. In addition to tions that connect with them as individuals and not
data provided by Web analytics, fundraisers can also one of the masses.
gather data from e-newsletters, online forms, events,
and other e-communications. Information gathered
A mass solicitation may actually undermine an
from these sources feeds directly into the CRM ap-
organization’s effort. Even with the best inten-
plication where all constituent data is stored. A fund-
tions, some recipients, no matter how consider-
raiser can go to the CRM database and determine
ate they are, will feel that their time is being wast-
how much money each constituent has donated each
ed by something they don’t care about. Instead,
year and to which campaigns. Fundraisers are able to
organizations can conduct multiple, targeted
determine which constituents are most likely to give
advocacy campaigns simultaneously, resulting
based on past giving and identified interests. Some
in much higher affinity among supporters.
CRM providers even include automatic wealth scor-
ing and segmentation to help fundraisers determine
appropriate “ask” amounts and increase fundraising
CRM actually enables political advocacy organi-
zations to advocate more. Organizations can divide
Similarly, because CRM allows a holistic view of their CRM records by areas of interest and conduct
the constituent relationship, organizations can tai- advocacy efforts that are directly related to those
lor their stewardship efforts based on numerous groups. Once the initial solicitation is set and the
factors. Rather than focusing solely on the number website updated, organizations are free to give more
and amount of an individual’s donations, the organi- time to other efforts or activities that support the cur-
zation can assess factors such as advocacy actions rent initiatives. These other efforts may include more
taken, volunteer efforts completed, events attended time on The Hill lobbying for a bill or reform.
and members recruited to recognize key supporters.
Additionally, organizations can use tools like
There is no arguing the truth: people are more Friends Asking Friends® or forward to a friend, and
likely to give to those organizations with which they use the power of viral marketing to increase advocacy
feel a sense of belonging and trust. CRM enables an results. As odd as it may sound, organizations may
organization to provide quick, accurate and thorough be able to increase advocacy by sending more spe-
reports of supporter contributions. In today’s land- cific invitations to fewer constituents.
scape, these reports are an excellent tool to increase
donor confidence and demonstrate in an open and
responsible manner the proper management of do- Conclusion
nations. This gives nonprofit organizations, whether Technology has advanced from the stand-alone
a political advocacy group or a campaign for election, personal computer to the Internet age, and so too
the tools necessary to develop relationships with con- have CRM applications. Once a luxury for nonprofits
stituents that will increase fundraising success. and businesses, CRM applications are now critical.
Today’s CRM applications have advanced to include
a plethora of functionality and many organizations
have been able to successfully use CRM applications
There is no arguing the designed specifically to manage advocates, donors,
truth: people are more prospects, volunteers and event participants. Like
likely to give to those many mature products, CRM is no longer a luxury
organizations with which only large organizations can afford, but a cost-effec-
tive application that even the smallest campaign can
they feel a sense of utilize.
belonging and trust. Since CRM has become an affordable necessity,



political organizations must jump on the CRM band-

wagon. Businesses have been using CRM to build and
maintain customer relationships for years. The ad-
vanced tools available in today’s SaaS CRM solutions
have enabled nonprofit organizations to create two-
way communications between the organization and
its constituents. This methodology is vital for politi-
cal organizations that seek to encourage constituents
to act, vote, advocate or volunteer. CRM provides the
means to capture the totality of the constituent rela-
tionship, and to communicate the importance of the
relationship to the constituent.



CHAPTER 17 people who visit online news sites, and at the people
who read and post comments to political blogs. And
pay particular attention to the people who have al-
ready demonstrated an interest in your candidate or
Finding the Political cause through their donations, attendance at your
events, or by signing up for your newsletter. They are
Influentials in Your your Influentials, your peeps.

Database 69 percent of online

political activists are
(Tip: They’re hiding Influentials, according
to a study conducted by
in plain sight) IPDI in 2004. For more
information, check out
Online Political Citizens
CAROL DARR in the 2004 Campaign,
THE INTERNET available for download
at http://www.ipdi.org/
As you assemble a database from your various UploadedFiles/influentials_
lists, the thought no doubt occurs to you: The names in_2004.pdf.
of some of these activists are more valuable than oth-
You’re right, of course. Some activists are more, Influentials? Who Are these People?
well, active than others. Not all people are equally im- In 2003, GW’s Institute for Politics, Democracy &
portant to a political organization or an issue advo- the Internet conducted a groundbreaking study that
cacy group. demonstrated that people who actively participated
So here’s the question: How do you identify the in presidential politics over the Internet were seven
people on your list likely to be the most active – the times more likely to belong to an elite cohort of local
individuals who will donate, volunteer, promote your opinion leaders called “Influentials™” than the gen-
cause or candidate, and get out and vote on Election eral adult population.
Day? Influentials™ are the “one in ten Americans” who
And here’s the deceptively simple answer: find the “tell the other nine what to buy, who to vote for and
Influentials, especially the subset of them who are where to eat,” according to the book, The Influen-
politically active online. tials™,36 by Ed Keller and Jon Berry, the then-CEO and
The purpose of this chapter is to explain who VP for Research, respectively, of RoperASW. Accord-
these Online Political Influentials are, why they are so ing to them, Influentials™ exert a “multiplier effect”
important, how to target them, and how to mobilize on the public at large, are “canaries in the mineshaft
them. for looming political ideas,” and tend to be three to
five years ahead of social and political trends.
To cut to the chase, here’s a summary: Influen-
tials are the people who are active, civically and po- IPDI’s study, Political Influentials Online in the
litically, in their local communities. Ten percent of 2004 Presidential Campaign,37 challenged the stereo-
the general adult population falls into this category. type of online activists as “the sad, the mad and the
However, because Influentials are news junkies and lonely” and showed that the opposite is true: Online
political junkies, they tend to congregate online. In political activists are more likely to be active in local
fact 69 percent of online political activists are Influ- civic and political affairs than their neighbors. More-
entials, according to a study conducted by IPDI in over, they are more likely to donate, more likely to vol-
2004. unteer and more likely to engage in word of mouth
advocacy of causes and candidates they favor.
In other words, the Internet skims off the cream
of the ten percent of the general population who are
Influentials, and particularly the ones who are po- 36 Ed Keller and Jon Berry, The Influentials (New
litically active, and concentrates them online. This York: The Free Press, 2003), book jacket.
means what when you are looking for activists who 37 Joe Graf and Carol Darr, Political Influentials On-
will advance your cause or candidate, look online – at line in the 2004 Presidential Campaign (Wash-
the people who are coming to your website, at the ington, DC: The Institute for Politics, Democracy
& the Internet, 2004).



How to recognize them

Influential Americans™ serve as opinion leaders What most identifies
in virtually all aspects of their lives, but their involve- Influential Americans,
ment in civic and political affairs is the common however, is their activist
denominator. RoperASW has devised a set of elev-
en questions, participation in three of which quali- orientation to life.
fies a person as an influential. These questions can
be found in the book The Influentials, and in IPDI’s
study, Political Influentials Online in the 2004 Presi- Why are they so important?
dential Campaign, at page 16. At this point, surely it’s obvious. They are the holy
In short, Influentials are hard-working, energetic grail of marketing, whether it’s commercial market-
individuals who balance families with careers, read ing or political marketing. They are the ones that
newspapers online, join community groups and pro- spread the word about what they like and dislike. And
fessional organizations, and utilize their large net- they tend to have social and professional networks of
work of friends, neighbors and family to get things friends and colleagues that are twice as big as the av-
done. erage person. So they wield a powerful megaphone.
Influentials are highly connected activists and In politics, they are the ones that spread the
joiners. They are the kinds of people who seem to word about causes and candidates, and being activ-
know everybody – and if they don’t, they know some- ists, they put their money and their time where their
body who does. mouth is. According to IPDI’s study, online political
Influentials are over four times more likely than the
Their common denominator is their involvement general public to have donated money to a political
in civic and political affairs – two areas in which they candidate, and over seven times more likely to have
want to make a difference, whether by working within worked for a political party.39
mainstream political parties or by joining indepen-
dent groups. They possess both the desire and abil-
ity to make a contribution to society through both What Are Their Unique Characteristics
traditional and nontraditional means. Often they We’ve already touched on several charac-
are mavericks, and they tend to be 3-5 years ahead of teristics: Influentials are opinionated, and they
their peers in terms of trends. are connected. They know more people, par-
What most identifies Influential Americans, how- ticipate in twice as many groups as average
ever, is their activist orientation to life. “They are in- Americans, and have strong ties to those groups. For
volved in life in the broadest sense, and that shines these reasons, they serve as a force multiplier. “If
through in both their office and leisure time.”38 More- word of mouth is like a radio signal broadcast over
over, they continually seek out information to satisfy the country, Influentials are strategically placed trans-
their active minds and diverse interests, and they use mitters that amplify the signals, multiplying the num-
technology like the Internet and mobile devices to ber of people who hear it,”40 according to Ed Keller
communicate and keep up with the news. and Jon Berry, formerly with RoperASW, and now
Here’s another way to spot Influentials. Influen- principals in the Keller Fay Group.
tials are more likely to forward emails than other peo- Influentials are also knowledgeable. They stay
ple. (So a good way to recognize Influentials among abreast of news and current events; hence the Inter-
your own friends is to pay attention to those who net is their lifeline. They are particularly knowledge-
send you emails they think will interest you – funny able about politics, and they are asked their opinion
lists and cartoons, insightful news articles, outra- on politics more than on any other topic. And when
geous little videos, etc.) they promote a cause or a candidate, people listen.
The other thing about Influentials is that they tend They are also trendsetters. They are not usually
to know other Influentials. Think about it. They are the earliest adopters of new ideas and new technolo-
not out networking with couch potatoes! They’re in- gies, but when they decide to embrace a cause or
teracting with other networkers, joiners, and doers. purchase a device or gadget, you should take it as a
So when you tap into the network of an Influential, good sign that the idea or technology is about to go
you’re tapping into interlocking circles of the active mainstream.
people who run things, whether it’s the PTA, or the Moreover, Influentials are active online and of-
Rotary Club, the church choir or the local chapter of fline. As more Americans get broadband coverage
your favorite cause. to their homes, the distinction between online and
offline activism will continue to blur. The Internet is
becoming another communications tool – albeit the

39 Graf and Darr, 16, 17.

38 Keller and Berry, 39. 40 Keller and Berry, 14.



most important one – that helps them stay connect- of, say, a white, high school educated baby boomer
ed to their friends and colleagues. who is extremely influential in her rural community
are likely to differ from those of , say, a highly edu-
cated, urban African American man who is very influ-
Finding Your Influentials – Your Peeps
ential among his friends and colleagues.
Where to look? Start with the people already on
A study that IPDI is currently conducting will at-
your list. Identify the people who help you the most.
tempt to answer the question, how do the various co-
Who has made a donation? Make a note of it. How
horts differ? The new “Poli-fluentials” study will be
did they make it? – by snail mail, online, or over the
published in late spring of 2007. Stay tuned!
phone? Again, mark it down in the file.
Who forwards your email? Software exists that
can track this activity, and while it has obvious pri- How Do You Motivate Them to Work for You?
vacy implications that should be clearly set forth in IPDI’s earlier publication, Putting Online Influen-
your privacy policy, it provides an important indica- tials to Work for Your Campaign,42 identified five ways
tion of who your Influentials are. Because that’s one to capture the Influentials’ energy and enthusiasm
of the things that Influentials do: they forward email for politics, and take advantage of their strong ties to
to their friends and colleagues, four times more often their communities:
than do average Americans.41 They are activists, so help them lead.
As you collect information, keep adding it to the • Ask for their help. They are used to par-
file. Pretty soon your Influentials will, like cream, ticipating, organizing and leading, so make
start floating to the top. But even though they may a clear request, and provide specific direc-
be hiding in plain sight, you won’t know who they are tions.
unless you keep careful records. So document, docu-
• Tell them what you need. Or, stated from the
ment, document.
opposite perspective: Don’t ask; don’t get.
While you are identifying the Influentials already
on your list, cast your net for new ones.
They are joiners and networkers, so build an on-
This is a little more difficult. There is no master
line community.
list of Influentials. Instead there are lots of smaller
lists. And what motivates one group of activists • Form online communities around key issues
may not motivate another group. The trick is to find and constituencies. Take advantage of pre-
people who are actively involved in the issue you are existing online communities on blogs and
advocating – or an issue similar to it. For example, social networking sites.
if I were running People for the Ethical Treatment of • Create an organizational blog so that they
Animals (PETA), I would try to find lists of dog own- can communicate with each other.
ers, save-the-whales types, cat fanciers – anyone who • Take advantage of their social and profes-
has show concern for the well-being of animals. The sional networks by emailing them informa-
names of people who have signed up for, paid dues tion that they can forward to their friends
or made a contribution to these organizations are of- and colleagues.
ten available for purchase from commercial list bro-
kers; and if I were doing an email outreach to solicit
new members, I’d use these lists. They are news junkies, so feed their habit.
Better yet, I would find websites where these peo- • Post news stories on your Website, or bet-
ple congregate, including social networking websites ter yet, ask them to sign up to a permission-
like MySpace or Facebook, and link from my profile based list serv that distributes relevant news
back to my own site where people could find more updates.
information. I’d also purchase advertising on blogs • Provide links to other news sources, blogs,
with similar interests. etc.
But the animal lovers of the world that constitute
PETA’s Influentials are not necessarily interested in, They are opinionated, so give them a micro-
say, foreign affairs. Those Influentials will congregate phone.
in other places and thus require a different focus.
• Influentials are the kind of people who write
letters to the editor and call into radio and
Is There a Subset of Political Influentials?
Yes. About half of Influentials are politically active.
And among that half, one size may not fit all. The 42 Carol Darr, Julie Barko and Brandon Robinson,
habits, attitudes and manner of political involvement Putting Online Influentials to Work for Your Cam-
paign (Washington, DC: Institute for Politics,
Democracy & the Internet, 2004) 5, available at
41 Graf and Darr, 27. www.ipdi.org/publications



TV talk shows. Help them articulate their

views with solid, sourced background infor-
mation and concrete talking points.

Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they are busy,

so make it easy.
• Do the grunt work for them, thereby dem-
onstrating that you appreciate their precious
and limited time. For example, if you want
them to call into a radio talk show, post the
times and the station’s call letters, and pro-
vide telephone numbers and the names of
the hosts of the show. Provide a link to the
radio station’s URL, and give them some
suggestions about getting on the show and
some talking points.

Think of the Influentials in your database as the

flecks of silver and gold in your bucket of sand. Then
spend time identifying, cultivating, motivating and
mobilizing them. It’s that easy, and that complicat-



CHAPTER 18 all. This chapter looks at developing a CRM system

for international organizations and non-profits.
How do you design an Open Source CRM solu-
tion for the non-profit, non-governmental space that
If the Shoe Fits: is fully international and localizable from the mo-
ment you open the box? Most affordable CRM tools
Finding an Open are not designed for this space. International organi-
zations that use their databases to handle contacts
Source CRM across geo-political borders should not have to settle
for a single-language based system that only focuses
on one country (usually, the United States). How do
Solution for Political you create a system that allows organizations to track
and solicit donations, memberships, constituent
Nonprofits contact info and preferences, volunteer skills, events,
responses to newsletters and other communications,
and a whole range of other critical interactions? This
was the goal we set for ourselves when we started to
DAVE GREENBERG design and build CiviCRM.

The non-profit world has a tradition of using too

much paper. Instead of tracking donors, program of- There are significant
ficers, volunteers, and constituents in a safe, reliable, differences in the ways
easy to navigate database, many nonprofits use 3 x5 that political campaigns,
cards or an Excel spreadsheet. Maybe they throw to- advocacy groups, and
gether a rudimentary Microsoft Access database to
keep their address books. Or maybe they just use service-based non-profits
Outlook as an address book. operate. Those boundaries
These kinds of castle walls have cracks, and when are blurring, but for many
they crumble, your entire supporter or donor out- organizations, a standard
reach program becomes vulnerable and, in some
cases, completely dies. Sometimes, all it takes is the
solution isn’t a solution at
removal of one block – a staffer leaving the organiza- all.
tion, a computer virus, etc. – and your entire data pro-
gram falls apart. Spreadsheets disappear and years
of organizational intelligence and organizing can be Look for solutions that combine CRM with your web-
lost. This happens more often than people realize in site’s content management system.
the non-profit world. Perhaps it’s even happened to One of the unexpected first lessons we learned was
you. It’s time for a better system. that having a constituent relationship management
system or application hosted within a content man-
agement system (CMS) had a lot of benefits. Most of
us consider a database and a website to be two dif-
@ CiviCRM is the first open
source and freely downloadable
constituent relationship
ferent things. However, synchronizing the CRM sys-
tem on one side and the website on the other allows
you to host constituent information online and then
management solution, designed selectively enrich it through interactions that happen
specifically to meet the needs of online. Second, it can reduce the burden of data entry
advocacy, non-profit and non- on the organization by transferring responsibility for
governmental groups. For more maintaining current and accurate contact informa-
information, visit www.civicrm.org tion to your constituents. Third, it leads to creative
communication that actually strengthens your com-
Sometimes an out-of-the-box solution simply A content-rich interactive website becomes a place
won’t do – especially when it comes to CRM. The rea- for constituents and staff to collaborate in the work
son is a simple one: you are unique. There are signifi- of the organization – and a powerful tool for the or-
cant differences in the ways that political campaigns, ganization to extend its reach. Content management
advocacy groups, and service-based non-profits op- systems like Drupal aren’t just about publishing con-
erate. Those boundaries are blurring, but for many tent. Increasingly, they can create multi-directional
organizations, a standard solution isn’t a solution at communications that range from blogging to online



forums to wiki’s for community-contributed content. If you work in other countries, find a system that can
In short, content management systems aren’t just speak all your languages.
about posting articles on your site anymore. An in- If you’re an international organization, then you
tegrated CRM system allows you to add constituent need a CRM program that works just as well in Spain,
profiles, membership and volunteer signups, event Brazil, and Poland as it does in the United States.
registration, surveys and more to this mix. The trick is It’s not an easy thing to find: developers face many
synchronization. Any time each of these transactional challenges in developing this type of program. After
interactions occurs with somebody in your constitu- all, it may be difficult to find a programmer who can
ent base, that interaction becomes part of your CRM. speak the languages of each country you work in well
In other words, your CMS (website content manage- enough to create a system that responds to surnames
ment system) and CRM (constituent relationship in Arabic or streets in South Korea.
management) work as a team.
The need to be multilingual isn’t just a charac-
teristic of your CRM. Sometimes your website also
needs to be navigable in other languages. But a
Most of us consider a multi-lingual site doesn’t end with the translation of
database and a Website a few articles or documents. Make sure the form la-
bels and form choices on your sign-up and donation
to be two different things. pages are easily translatable. Otherwise, you can end
However, synchronizing up with usability problems or even discrepancies in
the CRM system on one your database. Other language issues include things
like date formats (in the United States, we typically
side and the Website on the write our addresses as month/day/year, while other
other allows you to host countries write their dates as day/month/year), ad-
constituent information dress formats, and character sets. Many languages
online and then selectively don’t use the Roman alphabet. Currency is also an
issue. Depending on your organization’s scope you
enrich it through may need a program that supports multiple curren-
interactions that happen cies and currency formatting. If your organization op-
online erates outside of the United States, then all of these
technical issues should be broached during your eval-
uation process.
For example, if your organization needs volun-
teers for a fundraiser next week, you might consider
placing a notice on your Website saying, “Please sign If you’re an international organization, then you
up here.” If someone signs up who is not already in should consider some of the following elements
your constituent database, then that person is imme- before you select a CRM program:
diately added and a follow-up message with instruc-
• How many countries do you work
tions is immediately generated. When this volunteer
in? How many languages?
actually serves her time, then the system records
those hours and generates a thank you note. It allows • Are the form labels and choices on
the organization to track how often someone volun- the sign-up and donation pages of
teers and his or her strengths, likes, and dislikes. Next your website easily translatable?
month, when you’re looking for a volunteer to serve • Do the people you serve write their
as event organizer, you know exactly who to turn to. dates differently?
Synchronization builds intelligence and history about • Are addresses written differently in
your whole community into your database. You don’t the countries you serve?
need a backroom full of staffers or volunteers tak-
• Do you need to use a character set
ing information from 3x5 cards and plugging it into a
other than the Roman alphabet?
• Do you need support for multiple
What is Drupal? Drupal is a free content man-
agement system (CMS), a software package that This is an area where an Open Source program
allows an individual or a community of users to has many advantages: you can open up the develop-
publish, manage and organize a wide variety of ment and translation process to people around the
content on a website. For more information, visit world, not just people who sit in your office, or the of-
http://drupal.org/. fice of your CRM developer. You can potentially share
the cost and effort of translating the software with
other organizations and institutions in your region.



The CiviCRM project provides an online tool for a round peg into this square hole, but it might not al-
collaborative translations which requires a minimum ways work for your constituents. Let’s start with CRM
of technical skills to use. This type of facility is proving terminology. Instead of working with companies and
to be a powerful means of propagating the software buyers, you’re working with individuals, households
into multiple languages, which in turn helps make and organizations. The kinds of transactions that oc-
sure that we can continually improve our support for cur in non-profits are not limited to a phone call that
locale-specific needs. leads to a sale that leads to an invoice. By contrast,
transactions in the non-profit space range from ob-
taining volunteers for an event to getting people to
donate to distributing services. Non-profits who use
By choosing an Open CRM software must define what their transactions
Source solution, you can are, what the interactions are, and who their constitu-
potentially share the cost ents are in an open way. This will help them decide
how to track their communications and search their
and effort of translating databases.
the software with other You need a platform that resembles a Craftsman
organizations and toolbox – which has the flexibility to model a wide
institutions in your region. variety of data and transactions. Even more impor-
tantly, you need to devote the time and resources
to planning your CRM implementation. This means
Look for a system that makes it easy for the end user evaluating your existing work-flows and the data cur-
(you) to generate reports. rently being stored to determine what’s working and
All the data in the world is useless unless you, the what’s not. The community of users for an open-
end user, feel comfortable enough searching and an- source platform can often be a good resource during
alyzing the data to make good decisions. Think about this process. If budgets allow, engaging a profession-
your donors. Anytime somebody donates on your al service organization which specializes in database
website, he or she becomes part of the database. All and work-flow design for non-profits can also help
his or her contact information is recorded. You need ensure that you get off on the right foot.
a system simple enough to allow you to view who
donates, when, how much, and why, but complex
enough to show details, such as which programs he Case Study
or she cares most about, and where necessary, log of-
fline communications, such as phone calls and face- I recently worked with a nonprofit organization
to-face visits, with that donor. Look for a system that that helps families finding missing people who suffer
allows you to incorporate all of these things into one from mental illness or substance abuse, the home-
database and potentially allows you to create visual less, and children from foster families.
presentations (charts and graphs) to help you better
understand your donor base.
In 2006, the nonprofit wanted to implement an
People use technology differently in different coun- Open Source CRM system called CiviCRM to syn-
tries, so reach them appropriately. chronize data from its Website. In particular, it want-
Different parts of the world have different levels ed to allow users to:
and types of technology penetration. Broadband-con- 1. Submit a missing person form
nected desktop computers may be quite prevalent
among constituents of an environmental advocacy 2. Submit an unidentified person form (law en-
organization in the United States – making e-news- forcement and/or forensic investigator sub-
letters a great medium for communication. However, mit an unidentified form in the hopes that
organizations in third world countries (as well as or- the public can help make an identification)
ganizations who target youth) increasingly rely on cell 3. Search for missing person and unidentified
phones and text messaging to reach their audiences. person details
CRM platforms need to begin incorporating these The Plan
modalities in order to stay relevant to these diverse The nonprofit needed a customized CRM sys-
needs. tem, and they didn’t have the in-house staff to do it.
I worked with the nonprofit to help them customize
Find a solution that treats your constituents like con- the CiviCRM platform and synchronize it with their
stituents, not like customers. Drupal-hosted Website.
Classic CRM systems focus narrowly on the sales- First, the nonprofit brainstormed some of the
man/customer relationship. You can try to squeeze fields that they wanted to include on each of their



Web forms, which include submitting a missing per- The process wasn’t too difficult. Let’s use the ad-
son and an unidentified person report. I compared ditional location fields as an example. I started on the
those fields to the field names already included in CiviCRM profile and custom data page and clicked
CiviCRM’s standard data platform. I then created on Go to Location types (home, work, etc.). I clicked
custom data fields for all new areas: on New Location Type and entered “Submitter Loca-
tion” in the box following Enter Name. I clicked on
vCard and added the description: “Person submit-
Standard New Fields Created for ting form.” I then clicked the “Enabled” box and “De-
CiviCRM Data the Nonprofit fault.”
First name Date of disappearance When a user submits a missing person form, or
an agency submits an unidentified person form, a
Last name City/last known location nonprofit staff volunteer reviews and sorts it by plac-
Birth date City/location missing from ing it into several groups all contained in the CRM
program: approved, rejected or pending.
Gender Age at disappearance
Height Lessons learned
Weight (lbs) 1. Always save your work. Especially if you de-
Hair Color/ Style cide to create fields on your own.
2. Ask for help. If you choose an Open Source
Eye Color
solution, like CiviCRM, then chances are
Race good that it already has its own family – an
active community of developers just like
you. Many of them may know the answers to
Distinguishing characteristics - your questions.
scars, birthmarks 3. Build on an existing system. The beauty of
Medical conditions an Open Source solution is that you get to
build on the work of others. That means that
Clothing and Jewelry much of the programming work is already
DNA sample available down for you. The customizing is your job,
but many people can walk through the steps
Dental Records Available with a little support.
Fingerprints available 4. When building Web forms that you want to
Contact Name, Address, Phone, synchronize into your database, ask the fol-
Email lowing questions ahead of time:
a. Is this field required?
Submitter Name, phone, Email
b. Who can view this field once it is
Submitter Relationship in your database? Who can edit this
Law enforcement agency field?
c. Do you want the information con-
tained in this field to be viewable on
Case classification your Website?
Additional case details d. If so, do you want these fields to be
searchable from your Website? That
is, do you want to give people who
I supplemented the already created CiviCRM Pro- visit your site the ability to search
file with additional custom data fields that I created for information
myself. Some of the fields, such as location types,
where adapted from CiviCRM’s existing address



CHAPTER 19 mostly to feed the email list. Beyond this, however,

are very few examples of organizations that provide
a place for members to become part of a true force
for advocacy and messaging for the organization’s
Your Website Is an causes. The reason for this is partly because this level
of participation is a fairly new dynamic between mem-
Interaction Tool bership organizations and their members. Members
have begun to do more to promote the cause of their
organizations than send checks and receive updates.
It is partly also due to the failure of many to look at
AARON WELCH what prompts a person to participate in the various
ADVOMATIC levels of civic action.

How do you promote deeper participation from The Civic Fish Ladder
your web membership, collect valuable demograph- When talking about prompting people to civic
ics from them, and avoid triggering common nega- action I like to use the analogy of a fish ladder. This
tive reactions to data collection? analogy takes me back to my childhood in Seattle,
With a website that supports your constituent re- watching salmon returning to Lake Washington from
lationship management program. the Pacific Ocean to spawn. As people began to dam
and block the river ways that fish use to spawn, they
With a clear set of objectives for your website,
realized that they had to provide some way for the
and some new ways of structuring features, you can
fish to return or they would quickly die out. The solu-
help guide your members to action on behalf of your
tion to this problem is a set of ascending pools of
organization, all while collecting the information you
water alongside the man-made obstruction that the
need without turning off supporters with scary data-
fish can use to jump up, one-by-one, until they reach
collection forms.
the top and can continue on their way. Interestingly
enough, a fish ladder will only work when the correct
amount of counter-current is present. Too little and

@ Advomatic builds Internet

infrastructure for progressive
political, grassroots and
the fish cannot determine which direction to swim;
too much and the fish become exhausted and unable
to swim upstream any longer.
arts communities. For more This analogy applies strangely well to encouraging
information, visit civic action and participation with people at almost
www.advomatic.com. any level of engagement. Without some counter-cur-
rent, people will become bored and fail to continue
to move up the ladder. I’m sure the parallels between
Thank you all for coming. Here are some brochures. the critical life cycle of salmon and the equally impor-
Now please leave. tant role of civic action in our society will not be lost
on advocacy and political organization leaders.
In many cases, organizational websites are “bro-
chure-ware,” filled to the brim with static content: At the lowest level of civic engagement is a large,
mission statements, downloadable PDFs, and “Who disengaged population group that is functionally at
We Are” pages with smiling headshots and bios. This the bottom of the ladder. They might only glance at
type of site serves a basic purpose: to have a presence newspaper headlines or not pay attention to politics
on the Internet for visitors to get information and es- at all. The most action they may be taking is the act of
tablish a certain amount of legitimacy. For member- voting. As political consultants and issue advocates,
ship-based organizations and advocacy groups how- our goal is to help our constituents take their first
ever, this type of flat, non-interactive site is quickly jumps into the lowest pool and prepare them for the
becoming unacceptable to the growing number of next jump – usually something very simple, such as
members who demand to be included in more ways signing up for an email list.
than a semi-annual direct mail campaign asking for
In response to the growing role of online activism
in our culture, many organizations have made some
progress towards fostering member participation. Al- MoveOn provides a great illustration of possible
most all the major membership organizations have first levels of civic participation. Signing up for their
online donations, membership sign-ups and email email list is a very small action that doesn’t take too
lists. Some have more sophisticated tools like online much time. You might not be ready to take the next
petitions and “send to a friend” features that serve jump, but you are interested in staying informed. All
of MoveOn’s little jumps move upward from there.



For example, MoveOn might send out a call to action and turn out at the polls to vote for our candidate.
that asks its members to call their congressmen about They may even go on other blogs and talk about how
an issue. When people make that call, they jump into fantastic the candidate is. All this information is valu-
the next pool of civic participation. You can use this able in determining what steps the campaign’s fish
same theory. The fish ladder metaphor works all the ladder should contain.
way up the ladder of civic participation, from signing
up for emails to running for office or working on a
Building the Fish Ladder: A Working Example
campaign. Or, to use another metaphor, if you want
to feed your party, you do it one bite at a time. The perfect fish ladder for any organization ulti-
mately depends on the specifics of the organization
and its membership.

As political consultants and

issue advocates, our goal The perfect fish ladder for
is to help our constituents any organization ultimately
take their first jumps into depends on the specifics
the lowest pool and prepare of the organization and its
them for the next jump membership.
– usually something very
simple, such as signing up
for an email list. First, we know our supporters are already as active
as we need them to be online. They advocate for us
on other websites, comment on our blog, invite their
Determining what pool your members are in, friends to sign up and identify our candidate as their
what level you want them to be, and what the steps choice. They are committed and have a great sense of
are in between is critical to growing the population identity around the campaign and candidate.
in the top pools of your fish ladder. First, determine The next step on the fish ladder is the holy grail of
what the targeted level of participation is for all types a political campaign’s web campaign: real-life action.
of members: newcomers, current supporters and What can we do to prompt real-life action to help get
even donors. Some people will stop at a certain point the campaign’s message out into our supporters’
– a comfort zone – and that’s fine. For a healthy, ac- communities and start filling our ladder’s first pool
tive membership the organization should ensure that with new supporters?
there are people at all levels of participation. No one A lot of organizations take the shotgun approach
wants to be alone on the road toward greater civic and blast their visitors in the face with features, hop-
participation. To continue with my previous example, ing that they will take advantage of some of them to
MoveOn casts an extremely wide net. Anyone who achieve some possibly ill-defined goal. More often
pays any attention to politics is a potential email reg- than not, they lose many supporters along the way
istrant. Once people have signed onto their email paved with WIKI! FORUMS! BLOG! TAKE ACTION!
list, MoveOn sends gigantic blast email campaigns DONATE! ENGAGE! PLEASE SIGN UP FOR OUR
in an attempt to prompt even a small fraction of its EMAIL LIST FOR WEEKLY UPDATES! A focused plan,
list membership to take action, and the net effect is with a well-defined set of steps towards greater par-
still enormous. ticipation will always yield better results. All of the
Comparatively, a political campaign has much features listed above are perfectly valid tools, but
different goals. If I run a campaign for federal office, how does one move from signing up on an email list
then some of my supporters probably already con- to collaboratively authoring content on a wiki? When
gregate somewhere online. Further, if I have been presented with so many options and no clear direc-
courting them correctly online, then I already have a tion for my level of exposure and buy-in, your online
community of people who read my website, watch my supporters may be too confused to continue.
videos, and maybe post comments on my blog. They You need to know what you want to get from your
have already made their way up a few steps on my site first and then determine which features will help
fish ladder. As a campaign, we can make a lot of as- you accomplish those goals.
sumptions about what these people are willing to do
In order to build a better site, you have to know
in terms of spending time and energy supporting the
where your audience is and where you want them to
campaign. If the campaign is for a Democratic candi-
end up. Otherwise, how are you going to know what
date, then most of our core supporters are probably
you want them to do? Build a road map, even if it
already on MoveOn. They are probably very well in-
is small, at first. If your end goal is to build a blog
formed about the issues. They know our background.
that contains all of your deepest thoughts, then you
They are registered to vote and will most likely donate



don’t have much work ahead. Just put a blog up with with common interests. People go back to MySpace
comments. You probably don’t have to worry about to establish relationships with other people and to
learning much about your readers. If, however, you see how they fit-in with their peers. No one has ever
want to mobilize a massive get-out-the-vote effort, said, “I’d really like to find a group of strangers who
then you need a completely different road map and have nothing to do with me or anything I’m interest-
a completely different way of knowing and engaging ed in. Indeed, I may even want to get together for cof-
your supporters. fee or engage in some civic action in my community
with these very strangers.” That’s not how MySpace
coalesces, and it is certainly not how a federal cam-
paign becomes successful. The primary reason your
In order to build a better blog has readership and your campaign has a com-
site, you have to know munity of supporters are the common interests that
where your audience is and your candidate or values represent. The other attrac-
tive characteristic of MySpace is the pictures. Pho-
where you want them to tos provide a “see what you missed?” teaser, which
end up. prompts the visitor to click links for more informa-
tion or to sign up for events.
How do you encourage your core online commu-
nity activists to talk to each other and their neigh-
bors? A great example of this is Meetup.com and No one has ever said, “I’d
Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in early 2003. really like to find a group
Thousands of supporters had signed up on the Dean of strangers who have
email list and were actively donating money and time
online. Once Meetup.com was offered to supporters nothing to do with me or
as a tool to organize meetings in real life the cam- anything I’m interested in.
paign really took off. This was a perfect way to foster Indeed, I may even want to
several levels of participation. The dedicated support-
ers could be utilized to bring buttons and bumper
get together for coffee or
stickers to hand out, collect contact information of engage in some civic action
other meetup-goers, and provide campaign provided in my community with
talking points. It also provided a way for those who these very strangers.”
were just curious about the campaign to meet, talk to
other supporters in their communities, and eventu-
ally move up the ladder to become advocates them- Finally, promote your most active supporters up
selves. the next step of the ladder. Make them field captains
If you want to accomplish a similar goal, then you and give them responsibilities, such as helping with
need to be able to call on local groups to do targeted meetings or leading small groups of supporters.
tasks as needed, perhaps to help bring people to These field captains can also serve as local, trusted
campaign stops and speeches, or to write and call points of contact that your organization can use to
local media outlets to combat some negative press. organize attendance at rallies, speeches and public
One way to do this is to create features that allow appearances.
the forming of local groups, online chapters or small
sub-organizations – another step up the ladder.
Balancing-act: Welcome visitor! Give me all your in-
Next, allow your stalwart supporters to declare formation. Wait, where are you going?
themselves the as captains and organizers and give
them something more to do. They provide a great Wait. Before you begin, don’t forget one of the
foundation. most important elements: knowing your support-
ers. Who they are, what they care about, why they
You also need to attract new supporters by pro- came to your site. In order to best utilize and support
viding steps for them on your website. We call this members, supporters and advocates online we have
group “drive-bys” – visitors who come to your site for to know what their concerns and demographics are.
information. These visitors need a much lower step Knowing what is important to your members affects
to jump up to, and the right amount of counter-cur- everything from the blog posts on the homepage to
rent so they know the right way to go. You do this by direct mail campaigns. Pick up the wrong side of an
helping them build relationships with each other. issue and you can bleed support and traffic; pick up
Consider one of the most popular websites on the right one and you will benefit from swarms of
the Internet today, MySpace. One of the reasons why cross-posts and new supporters.
MySpace is so popular is the way it allows people to Unfortunately, traditional methods of collecting
find friends, friends of their friends, and strangers the information are often the first barrier to participa-



tion a potential new supporter faces. When faced with ship. Notice that most of the data collection occurs
a lengthy information submission form, filled with after the sign-up process. Instead of investing all your
requests for personal information, many will simply time in a signup form, present your website content
leave. I personally have found myself frozen, mouse in a meaningful way.
hovering over the submit button, even after spending Additionally, you can also use browsing behavior
the time to fill out the entire form. Nine times of ten, to instruct you as to what that user’s interests are
I close the browser instead of submitting the form. I without asking them explicitly. For example, if some-
doubt this is unusual behavior. For membership and one visits the same profile on a dating site five times
advocacy based websites the balance between the in one week, then we can infer that that person is
collection of demographics and low barrier of entry romantically interested in the other person’s profile.
is most critical. Likewise, if someone says that her biggest political is-
sue is abortion, but spends most of her time reading
articles on homeland security, then you can assume
When faced with a lengthy that homeland security is also a big issue for her.
information submission Peer pressure is also an excellent tool to get people
to provide additional information and jump to higher
form, filled with requests levels of engagement. For example, if we provide a
for personal information, way for members to raise money and compete with
many will simply leave your other members, and provide a public way to display
these results, then many people will be more willing
website. to engage if the spirit of competition. .

If you want to know your supporters, then pay Conclusion

attention to what they do on your website. Activity In the end, all the statistics, demographics and
patterns and interests are just as important as de- features in the world will not provide the ultimate
mographics – if not more so. It doesn’t matter if the online community of your dreams. A good outline of
information you collect comes from a form, a door- what you expect to get from your relationship with
to-door canvasser, activities on your Website, online your online membership, and equally important,
games or polls. These things allow people to classify what you expect them to get from you, will inform
themselves in a more interesting way and provide a all subsequent decisions. Start small and watch how
more rounded view of the individual. your supporters use your website. Consider yet an-
Look at some of the most popular social network- other way that your supporters communicate with
ing sites, such as MySpace and LinkedIn. One of the you. It’s all about monitoring how people interact
things that makes these sites so popular is their abil- with your online face – your website – and changing
ity to provide ways for people to find other connec- your tactics accordingly.
tions and common interests within the site member-



CHAPTER 20 organization, they still have some costs, such as the

price of garbage bags. Their total budget is $700 a
year, and they raised most of it from their parents
and families. They have a vision, and they want to
Small Nonprofits raise money and organize their volunteers online
because that is where they spend most of their free
Have a Seat at the time anyway. Unfortunately, they cannot pay $500
to $1,000 a month for a database system that will

CRM Table put all of their operations online. What should a

group this size look for?
City Creek Cleanup needs two things in a da-
tabase program: simplicity and affordability. These
DAVID GEILHUFE are kids, not full-time tech support or development
CIVICRM staff. They are average folks who need a tool that
works with the intuitive ease of a Yahoo! email ac-
count. They need something the can customize
Providing technology solutions to nonprofit easily without a big price tag.
organizations and civic groups is a $100 million
The kids at City Creek Cleanup should look for
a year industry. All the high-end tools and appli-
a flexible program that allows them to do what they
cations that nonprofits need to build community,
need to do. An open source solution potentially al-
manage programs, and build a database of donors
lows the City Creek Cleanup crew to find software
cost a considerable amount of money. Good service
developed by another, similar organization and
– the kind of service that really grows your organi-
take advantage of the investments those that came
zation – usually costs $1,000 a month, and most
before them have made. This minimizes required
nonprofits can’t afford that. Not even the worthy
customization and cuts down on costs. An open
ones. What can a nonprofit do when the heart of
source resource like CiviCRM is used by over 4,000
organization infrastructure – a CRM database – is
organizations, and it comes with a consulting com-
unaffordably beyond reach? If this sounds like your
munity that has implemented CiviCRM for many
problem, then open source CRM programs may, in
organizations within a community that culturally
fact, provide the solution.
is eager to share their knowledge and expertise.
In other words, an open source solution can allow
you to learn from and use tools developed by other
What can a nonprofit groups.
do when the heart of You think your organization is unique, but you
have a lot in common with other groups. Many
organization infrastructure nonprofit organizations have different purposes
– a CRM database but possess common elements, such as the ability
– is unaffordably beyond to receive online donations or send email. Donor
reach? databases and email are generic technology tools.
An open source solution carries with it institutional
knowledge about each of these areas and more that
Regardless of the size of your organization, one a small organization might not otherwise be able to
thing is certain: you need to actually know who you afford. For example, a large advocacy group might
know. You need to know who gave you money last spend $15,000 to customize an open source appli-
year, so you can ask them again for money this cation, such as a database. Smaller organizations
year. You need to know who visits your Website, can then access the programming that went into
so you can engage them in your cause and, yes, ask that expensive system and adapt it for their own
them for money. You need something different. use. In this way, customers that can afford to pay
You need data plans and applications that you can build the first general advocacy profile for an open
customize – with your budgets – and you can learn source database that is then used by less affluent
to use easily. groups who can only afford to invest $2,000 or less
in development.
Picture a small civic organization planning
a creek cleanup. Four kids in high school decide Knowledge comes in layers. The most common
they wanted to do something good for the environ- kind of failure you see in nonprofit fundraising is
ment in their community, and they organize a City when the people who raise money can’t tell you
Creek Cleanup. They are very engaged in the cause, precisely who they raised money from last year.
people get excited about their idea and their idea Clearly you want to ask everybody who gave you
grows. Now they want to run creek cleanup efforts money last year for money this year. The next layer
once a week. Even though they are an all-volunteer of knowledge is learning more about the people



your donors know. The great innovation in fund-

raising technology has been fundraising pages
where an individual can create a web page and then
point their friends to it to donate to the organiza-
tion. This is a social network where your donors
introduce you to more donors.

How do I do it?
Here’s what you need to know if you want
to build social networking programs into your
database system.

1. Use a content management system

(CMS) with user authentication so
that you know who is visiting your
website. This will allow you to provide
member-only content for your donors
and supporters. You want them to log
into your site so you know who is rais-
ing money and who is not.
2. Integrate your Website’s content man-
agement system with your CRM da-
tabase. Some open source solutions,
like CivicSpace, pre-integrate the CRM
and CMS, in this case with the Dru-
pal content management system. The
information you collect will help you
make decisions about targeting and
3. Track what your members do on your
site. For example, if someone creates
a fundraising page on your Website,
then you know he or she cares more
about your organization than the aver-
age member does.
4. Use the information you collect to
build a better a relationship with your
members. Acknowledge their effort in
your newsletter or send them a thank
you note.



CHAPTER 21 mile away or on the other side of the planet.

To some people, email might seem like a different
communication medium; however, in many ways, it
is like traditional database marketing tools. Specifi-
The E-mail Factor: cally, you need a list in order to communicate with
people, but first and foremost you need to know
Tailoring Your with whom you are trying to communicate. After
the target audience has been established, in the “old
Communications world” of database marketing, the next question that
an experienced marketer would ask a client would
be “How big is your list?” With a direct mail cam-
Program paign, the size of the list would heavily influence the
parameters of the direct mail campaign because with
traditional mail, the larger the list, the higher the cost
of the campaign. The subsequent questions are rela-
SHEERAZ HAJI tively standard for any marketing outreach campaign:
What are you trying to accomplish? What is your of-
fer? What are your goals? All of these questions are
The online world has dramatically changed the similar to those that need to be answered prior to the
way in which people interact with each other. From design and launch of an email advocacy campaign.
an advocacy organization’s perspective, the Internet A major difference between traditional direct mail
has provided a new cost-effective and efficient com- campaigns and online email campaigns is an orga-
munication channel to reach out to constituents. A nization’s ability to grow its list. Through the use of
decade ago, advocacy groups had to spend a lot of basic emails, e-newsletters, and online action alerts,
money to communicate with people. Today, groups organizations are able to quickly and effectively in-
from Planned Parenthood to AFL-CIO to MoveOn. crease the size of their lists without incurring signifi-
org use email to communicate with their supporters. cant costs. The Internet provides a unique medium
However, to what extent can a simple, inexpensive in which viral marketing is instantaneous and virtu-
tool like email change what smaller groups with fewer ally free to organizations. As emails are forwarded,
resources can accomplish? The answer: significant- and action alerts are shared with friends who have
ly, and in many ways, it already has. For example, similar interests, an organization’s list grows organi-
MoveOn.org has a staff of five people and an annual cally, without additional investments in list buys or
budget of $3 million, yet it has become one of the direct mail campaigns.
most powerful advocacy groups in the country by us- As an organization’s list grows, so does its ability
ing email as the foundation of its communications to segment its database of constituents so that it can
strategy. launch targeted campaigns that resonate with the
intended recipients and foster an environment that
builds community. However, the increasing impor-

@ Convio is an Internet software and

services company that provides
online Constituent Relationship
tance of targeted campaigns should not begin and
end with demographics. Data needs to be examined
from various perspectives and is most easily divided
Management (eCRM) solutions for into three major categories:
nonprofit organizations. For more
information, visit www.convio.com. 1. Demographics. – What do you know about
each of the individuals on your list? Your
organization probably has some high-level
The power of email lies in both its immediacy and demographic information for each member,
its ability to transcend geographic boundaries. It al- including gender, geographic location, and
lows groups to respond immediately to events that perhaps age group or occupation.
occur in the news, whereas snail mail requires much
more lead time, and thus has a lesser impact because 2. Preferences/Topics of interest – Are you able
of the inherent lag time. Email’s virtual nature allows to discern the preferences or “hot buttons”
organizations like the Surf Rider Foundation (which for each of your list members? To gather this
started as a small, local, west coast group focused on level of information, you need to ask each
surfers) to reach people around the world and gain of your constituents about their interests.
the support of surfers in Australia, Europe, and Asia. From The American Lung Association’s
Email is not restricted by distance. An organization perspective, for example, it is important to
can have a message reach all of its constituents at know if each list member cares more about
virtually the exact same time – whether they are one tobacco issues or clean air issues.



3. Behavior – How do your constituents be- CASE STUDY B

have online? It is essential to track click-
through data, email open rates, and email
forwarding (tell-a-friend) information, in ad- Oxfam America
dition to other behavioral data. The ability to
Oxfam America (Oxfam) employed targeting
track and analyze the behavior of each list
based on previous actions taken for a 2006 fair trade
member enables an organization to gather
campaign, which was focused on lobbying Starbucks
valuable information about the person’s in-
to sign a licensing agreement that will allow coffee
terests, beyond the basic information they
growers in Ethiopia to control the names of their cof-
provided when they signed up to receive on-
fee. The agreement would allow Ethiopia to deter-
line communications from the group.
mine an export price that guarantees farmers receive
a fair share of coffee profits, enabling them to feed
While demographic and preference data have their children, send them to school, and get better
long been a staple of targeting and segmenting healthcare. Oxfam included an advocacy alert in its
within direct response email, behavioral targeting is early online campaign, and then conducted follow-
something that is more easily leveraged through on- up communications with its members. People who
line campaigns. At the simplest level, gathering be- had taken action on the original campaign received a
havioral data involves paying attention to who takes very different message than those who had not. For
an action in response to an email (e.g. clicking on a example, past participants were sent an email that
link or forwarding the email to a friend). At a more thanked the person by name for taking action, pro-
sophisticated level, conducting a detailed analysis vided an update about the campaign’s progress, and
and review of results following the launch of an on- asked them to forward information about the cam-
line advocacy campaign or email appeal allows an or- paign to friends and family. People who didn’t take
ganization to modify future campaigns based on past an action in response to previous emails received a
behavior. very different, informational email that brought them
up to date on what Oxfam was doing on the issue of
fair trade. The email was a strong sell, discussing the
CASE STUDY A importance of the issue, and specifically explaining
why it was important to get involved and take action.
Environmental Defense Oxfam knows that not all members will respond to
a request to take action the first time it is received;
A good illustration of this kind of targeting is En- however, the organization also knows that this ini-
vironmental Defense’s campaign on global warming. tial lack of action does not necessarily mean that the
Instead of sending a generic email to people who had member is uninterested in the campaign. Additional
participated in previous action alerts, they spoke to communications that contain new information about
their core activists in a completely different tone. They the subject may compel them to take immediate ac-
didn’t have to give them extensive background on the tion.
organization and what they wanted to accomplish.
Instead, they went right to the issue, in this case an
upcoming vote on an amendment to the 2005 Energy
Bill, and articulated their five goals for getting the bill
passed. They knew that these activists had already re-
sponded to previous action alerts on global warming.
@ Oxfam America is a non-profit
organization that works to end
global poverty through saving
Therefore, it wasn’t necessary to sell the importance lives, strengthening communities,
of the issue to them. They also knew that they could and campaigning for change. For
update these activists in the future and ask them to more information, visit www.
take further action. The campaign led to the passage oxfamamerica.org/.
of a Senate Resolution putting senators on record in
favor of supporting a mandatory cap on pollutants
that contribute to global warming.

@ Environmental Defense
was founded in 1967 as the
Environmental Defense Fund.
American Lung Association
The American Lung Association found that its
constituents primarily donated for one of two rea-
Today, EDF has 500,000 members. sons: either they had personal experience with lung
For more information, visit www. conditions (such as a family member with asthma or
environmentaldefense.org/. respiratory problems), or were vehemently opposed
to tobacco. The former group cares most about the



air quality in their local area, as well the latest news visit CARE’s life changing projects in-person.” De-
about respiratory illness. The latter group wants to voted volunteers are able to create and manage their
help the American Lung Association lobby against own personal Web pages which can then be used to
the “big tobacco” companies, and is interested in recruit friends and family to donate, or to encourage
hearing about lawsuits in the tobacco industry and people to participate in advocacy campaigns. How-
the latest legislation on tobacco control. Obviously, ever, the communication tactics change slightly and
these are two very different constituencies, each of are more informal when it comes to CARE’s less ac-
which is looking for very different information. If the tive supporters. Instead of encouraging people in this
American Lung Association uses the same generic group to become actively engaged in the organiza-
voice to address both audiences, and presents the tion, CARE asks less of them. The goal is to try to
same generic piece of content, then the response to engage them in a way that encourages them to even-
any communications would be low since the mes- tually progress to a higher level of engagement, both
sage was not customized to the interests of the target online and offline in CARE’s community.
The value of targeting is significant, both from tra-
ditional measurements of response rates and from
the perspective of building community online. Simi-
lar to email, a website should contain elements which
@ CARE USA is a humanitarian
organization fighting global poverty.
For more information, visit www.
attract the attention of the target audience and en-
courage them to become involved with the organiza-
tion. The best way to engage website visitors is to of-
fer specific features which help build community. For
Remember These Three Things
example, for individuals struggling with the effects of
lung disease, the American Lung Association’s web- First, targeting does not simply fulfill a market-
site offers a message board titled “Living with Lung ing purpose; rather, it makes your message relevant.
Disease.” This community-based forum provides an Put yourself in the shoes of your constituent: a busy
opportunity for people to share their stories, seek ad- person who works full-time, and receives more email
vice, and provide moral support for others who find than they want. How is your organization going to
themselves in a similar situation. People are passion- capture the attention of these individuals and engage
ate about this type of personal interactions and com- them in a way that compels them to become involved
munity-based involvement. by responding to an email, attending an event, or par-
ticipating in an online community? One of the most
important elements of using online tools to engage
your audience and build community is to have a com-

@ The American Lung Association

is the oldest voluntary health
organization in the United States.
pelling story or value proposition. People are looking
for an idea so compelling that it drives them to take
action and engage with an online community.
Its mission is to prevent lung Second, when using targeting to build commu-
disease and promote lung health. nity, choose a specific, focused topic, rather than a
For more information, visit www. very broad, generic statement. The Humane Society
lungusa.org. of the United States achieved success with a very
specific campaign called “Petition for Poultry,” which
focused on the ethical treatment of poultry. People
understood the nature of the issue because it was
CASE STUDY D specific, targeted, and timely (launched just before
Thanksgiving). This is a great example that demon-
strates an organization’s ability to think about issues
CARE USA from a constituents’ point of view.
In the end, constituents and stakeholders are Finally, start planning early and set specific goals.
two different audiences (defined by their level of Many advocacy groups are too busy to step back and
engagement with an organization), and each group ask themselves about their goals again: Do they want
responds to different types of messages. Therefore, to increase donations? Engage people and communi-
it is important to develop unique strategies to build cate their mission? Educate people? Push a big pub-
relationships with the members of each group. CARE lic policy initiative? Articulating goals that specify why
USA, for example, has a program called CARE Corps, an organization is trying to engage people and build
which targets its most engaged supporters and vol- community online is critical to driving success.
unteers. In communications with this group, CARE
USA employs a very different strategy than mass Regardless of the message, topic, or goals, don’t
emails. CARE Corps members are offered “a unique wait one or two years to move your organizing online.
opportunity for select groups of CARE supporters to Do it now.






Managing Constituent
Communications in Elected
One of the “Top Takeways” of this publication is that CRM doesn’t end on
Election Day. If you work in a congressional office, then you probably already use
some CRM principles. You just call it something different: correspondence man-
agement. The authors in this section discuss practical approaches to merge the
correspondence management programs you already use with a full-blown CRM
system. They argue that building integration and interactivity into your existing
correspondence program can help your office handle constituent mail and build
better relationships with your voters.



CHAPTER 22 right direction, but the newer systems have been

built with the older (and archaic) mentality, when
the vast majority of inbound communications to
Congress occurred offline – through personal let-
Turning Problems ters, faxes, postcard campaigns, and phone calls.
During the past decade, the way people commu-
into Opportunities: nicate has changed. While the number of phone
calls and faxes to congressional offices has stayed
relatively stable, the number of email communica-
tions has exploded, leaving staffers ill-equipped to
Why CRM Makes manage the massive amounts of inbound email.

Offices Proactive
In this chapter, CMS refers to correspondent
management software, the software tool used
JEFF MASCOTT by congressional offices to handle incoming
ADFERO GROUP communications, such as email.

When we look at the evolution of technology, a The problem with the way constituent communi-
few years can seem like a decade, and a decade can cations are handled on the Hill is not that members
seem like a lifetime. Yet, sometimes even the most are receiving too much email. Rather, the problem
hard-working offices fall back on outdated applica- is that they are not recognizing the opportunity to
tions that can actually create more work and are listen to those emails and respond. For example,
less effective than new systems. This is particularly receiving 50,000 to 75,000 emails in a year, as it
true of Congressional staff and CRM systems. Think occurs in the House, shouldn’t be interpreted as
about the thousands of emails, phone calls, faxes, a threat or a bother; it should be viewed as a way
and pieces of snail mail that each congressional of- to build an email list of 50,000 individuals in your
fice receives on a daily basis – not to mention the district, tagged by the organizations that they are
amount of messages sent to constituents from the affiliated with, the issues that they are interested
office. These form an unceasing deluge of constitu- in, and the specific bills that they care about. And
ent communications that pile up, and, even in the now they can use that information to communicate
most diligent offices, go unsorted or unanswered. with these constituents at virtually no cost and
With each communication, one opportunity to re- with a fraction of the staff time that it takes to send
spond effectively to a constituent is lost. out letters on issues that are very specific to their

@ Adfero Group is a strategic public

affairs firm that provides innovative
online and offline programs and
The problem with
the way constituent
campaigns for high-profile interest
groups, associations, and elected communications are
officials. For more information, visit handled on the Hill is
www.adferogroup.com. not that members are
receiving too much email.
The ideal solution appears to be a good CRM Rather, the problem is that
system, and yet congressional offices have yet to they are not recognizing
adopt a complete CRM program. In fact, the plat- the opportunity to listen to
form that Congress currently uses to handle con- those emails and respond.
stituent communications was designed a decade
ago, in the early to mid-90s. Those early programs
required a software program that had to be load- The Problem: Too Much Email, Too Little
ed onto an office computer. A decade later, many Technology
offices have moved to web-based correspondent
management systems (CMS), which is a step in the Most members of congress in fact do not have a



public email account, but they do receive electronic designed to filter out non-constituents. The email
communications through forms either on their own then gets sent into Outlook, and the platform
Websites or the official House of Representatives scans Outlook and pulls the information form out.
Website. The benefits of using a web form are two- However, these platforms do not posses an arti-
fold. First, it prevents spam messages. Second, it ficial intelligence system, as most corporate CRM
ensures that all inbound electronic communica- platforms do, that scans email content and finds
tions are received by constituents from the state patterns within a stream of emails – for example,
or district that their member represents. Third, the several emails that have the same first sentence or
member is able to collect a physical address loca- it talk about HR-123 or that mention partial birth
tion, which gives the office to respond through ei- abortions.
ther email or postal mail.
But even when offices use these web forms, they
still feel overwhelmed. The fact is, congressional of-
fices do not have the software tools to manage the Why is email important?
explosion of inbound electronic communications
from their constituents. Congressional offices still Consider the following research from the
use a software tool called Correspondence Man- Congressional Management Foundation:
agement Systems (CMS) to process all incoming Congress received four times more com-
communications from constituents and respond. munications in 2004 than 1995 due to Internet-
These CMS systems, designed before the advent based communications, like email. In 2004,
of the Internet and email, were primarily used to re- this means a total of 200,388,993 different
spond to inbound postal communications, whether communications. Of this, the House received
a handwritten letter or a postcard campaign, with about ten times more online communications
postal letters. Only recently have these platforms than letters (99,053,399 online compared to
been modified to handle email. Unfortunately, they 10,400,000 letters. The same is true of the sen-
do not handle email in an intelligent, elegant man- ate (83,000,000 online compared to 7,935,594
ner. Since email is so easy for constituents to send, letters).
staffers now have to respond to a great deal more
mail. The software packages they use do not have
sophisticated tools for staffers to organize and re- Eventually, HIR decided that they would add
spond to the increased amount of incoming com- a logic puzzle to make sure that individuals were
munications. sending the emails. To say that the logic puzzle
Most email into congress comes by way of an ef- antagonized the advocacy groups is an understate-
fort by an organization, advocacy group, or move- ment. They were enraged, and technology com-
ment. However, staffers do not have a way to de- panies that work with these groups rapidly began
termine that, for example, “35 emails today came to develop ways to solve the congressional logic
from members of the American Dental Associa- puzzles. John Hlinko, VP of Grassroots Enterprise
tion.” Collecting this information will allow them to summarized their disbelief: “What’s next, a Survi-
determine dentists in their district. Likewise, there vor style challenge to give your letter to the post-
are no good sharing mechanisms among offices, man? A guard at the office door, asking you the av-
so that if one office detects a new in-bound email, erage airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”43
that email can be posted on a public system that Another wag quipped that it is easier to serve a
shares information with other offices about who is subpoena on a fugitive than to deliver an email to
behind the email and what the email is about. Yet, a Representative. During its first two weeks on the
this is exactly the thing that congressional offices market, more than 60 members signed up for the
should be doing: tracking patterns, collecting data service. Yet, at the end of the day, there is no way
about individuals, and responding individually. to prevent these outside groups and their vendors
Staffers were overwhelmed. As a result, House from processing email from legitimate constituents
Information Resources (HIR), a group that is re- through congressional websites en mass. In fact,
sponsible for implementing technology solutions all those emails may actually be a gift – not a threat
on the Hill, developed a way to manage constituent or hassle – as I will explain a little later.
communications by curbing the number of emails However, sometimes the needs of the staffer
sent from groups through an outside website (i.e., (who simply cannot handle the amount of email)
the website of an advocacy group or organization, differ from those of the elected officials they serve.
not the website of a representative). They wanted Overall, members of Congress love receiving as
these groups to direct their members to the web
form on each congressman’s site. When a constitu- 43 “Congress Begins Blocking Constituent Emails;
ent sends an email through a congressional Web- New Coalition Launches Campaign to Stop Use
site, he or she must fill out a Web form, which is of Logic Puzzle Web Forms,” U.S. Newswire, June
28, 2006.



many communications as possible from their con- spondence management will make it sloppy. For
stituents. Each communication means more op- example, they fear a person who emailed with a
portunity for them to build relationships. Ideally, line about “treating people like animals” is actu-
email should be a lot easier to respond to than ally sent an email response that addresses the is-
snail mail, since it occurs at the click of a button. sue of animal testing and not the prisoner abuse
Further, a good email system should allow them concerns they wrote in about. The stakes are higher
to build and update their databases and tag indi- for a member of Congress or the Senate than they
viduals each time they attempt to communicate are for a business. When a member of congress
with their elected representatives. All of this is, of responds incorrectly, there is a chance that it may
course, the ideal scenario. end up as a letter to the editor in the local newspa-
Technology is a wonderful tool, but it is sim- per. Automation does not mean that responses are
ply too hard to get past the fact that congressional sent out without at the very least a staffer checking
staff are too overwhelmed to take email communi- the inbound communication and the response to
cations to the next level. They simply do not realize make sure it is appropriate.
that 90 percent of the work can be done for them. How does it work? Automated systems
There is a solution. 1. Scan inbound email. – When an office re-
ceives email, the system scans the subject
line and body for key words and phrases.
For example, all the emails that contain
The Franking Commission the phrase “oil tax” are sorted into one
pile. Scanning can also help congressional
Any congressional letter campaign over 499 offices detect trends in email writing, such
pieces of mail with the same topic has to be as when an organized advocacy groups
sent to the Franking Commission for approval. asks its members to contact your office
So, for example if after a floor vote, a member about an issue.
of Congress wants to send out a mailing to the 2. Make assumptions about the nature of the
1,200 people who are interested in immigra- email. – Based on data collected over time
tion issues, then he or she has to obtain ap- through the scanning process, the system
proval from the franking committee. The same makes assumption about the nature of an
is true if that same office wants to send out a email. For example, if an email contains
mailing to all the seniors in the district. The the phrase “vote no on oil tax.”
franking committee looks at all the details,
such as measuring the size of photographs in 3. Suggest a follow-up or response. – This
the mailing and how often the members’ name includes the method of contact, such as
is used. The franking committee comprises a letter or email, and the content of that
both Republicans and Democrats, and both communication.
sides have to approve each mailing.
For more information, visit http://cha. For example, the National Association of Cof-
house.gov/services/franking_commission. fee Growers urges its constituents to contact their
htm. members of congress about a bill that affects cof-
fee growing. Even though hundreds of people write
letters, most contain a similar phrase “I urge you
The Solution: Using CRM to Communicate More Ef- to vote for H.R. 11, the coffee growing bill.” Once
fectively the first email from a member of NACG comes in,
the staffer tags it for the phrase, the issue, and the
Congressional offices need a system that allows name of the bill. All future emails with that phrase
them to plan ahead and sort and respond to con- generate the same follow-up or response.
stituent communications intuitively. Many aspects
of a good constituent relationship management
system can help – if you know how to use them. 2. Build a Database with Granular Information
The current CMS system uses one linear, nonhi-
1. Gather Communications erarchical set of tags called “affiliations.” However,
constituent correspondence comes in many differ-
Currently, no one solution helps congressional ent forms, and the constituents who write those
staffers effectively handle the massive amount of letters are just as unique. Simply tagging all key-
inbound email they receive. Why? Most systems words as “affiliations” doesn’t cover the detail or
lack automation – a valuable way to cut down on nuance of most communications.
time and make the process more effective.
Congressional offices need a system that allow
Automation is a scary concept for elected of- s them to organize inbound communications using
ficials. Many offices worry that automating corre- four different types of tags:



1. Issue – What is this constituent writing spond faster and more efficiently to most of their
about? This category is hierarchical, so letter writers, since most people now communicate
that if someone writes a letter that is “pro with their representatives online. Further, email will
estate tax cuts,” she receives a reply about offer congressional offices the opportunity to com-
estate tax cuts. The system also tags her municate with their constituents about an issue be-
to receive future email about tax relief in fore they hear it anywhere else.
general, but because estate taxes are such At the beginning of each week, a staffer should
a specific issue, she will not receive future be able to look at all the bills going to the floor
email about capitol gains tax. and flag four or five bills that they can legitimately
2. Bills – Is this email for or against the is- use to update their constituents. An office could
sue or bill? Emails should be tagged very flag two suspension bills on a Tuesday, one bill on
specifically, for example either “pro H.R. Wednesday, and then the member’s own big bill on
123” or “against H.R. 123.” There should Thursday. Instead of being trapped in the 48-hour
never be one big “pro” pile and another process of drafting a two-page letter, they can draft
big “against” pile. This way, your office two- to three- sentence emails, such as, “I just left
can follow up with a specific response and the floor 15 minutes ago, where I voted ‘yes’ on HR
send out very specific communications ev- 123. Knowing of your interest in the issue, I wanted
eryday there is a vote. you to be the first to know.”
3. Organization – Does the sender belong to Which is more effective: receiving an email that
an organization? This is important because says, “I just got off the floor 15 minutes ago and
you can learn a lot about the individual wanted you to be the first to know,” or eventually
based on which group he or she belongs receiving a piece of mail a week-and-a-half after
to. For example, if you know someone is a the fact? Actually, members should use both, but
social conservative or a member of an en- they should do so strategically. Email does have
vironmental group, then you have a better one downside: it is not printed on official, cream-
chance of sending out targeted communi- colored paper with a seal on top. Every represen-
cations in the future. tative has learned to seize any opportunity to use
4. Affiliations – Who is the writer? This cat- official stationary, and there is still some benefit to
egory is also hierarchical. For example, if mailing a letter directly to someone’s house. At
you have a category for teachers, then you the same time, they can also send a full-color email
need subcategories for elementary teach- that looks like it is official stationery with the seal
ers, secondary teachers, special education at the top and the member’s name in Times New
teachers, etc. This way, communications Roman font. Email seems to work best for two or
can be sent out to subcategories or to the three short messages a week. Snail mail seems to
whole group. An email about secondary work best for longer, rarer communications.
education probably shouldn’t be sent to an
elementary school teacher. However, both
elementary and secondary teachers can re- Which is more effective:
ceive general email about education.
receiving an email that
3. Proactively Send Out Communications
says, “I just got off the
Typically, congressional offices send out mail
floor 15 minutes ago and
based on a vote the member cast. Without strate- wanted you to be the first
gically planning constituent mail, the staff will say, to know,” or eventually
“The big vote was today, so we have to send a letter receiving a piece of mail a
to everybody who contacted us about it.” It takes
about 48 hours for the legislative assistant to draft
week-and-a-half after the
email text and get it approved. It passes through fact?
three rounds of edits, and doesn’t receive approv-
al for two to three days after the vote. And that’s
just the beginning. It takes the office another 48 Simple relationship management steps like
hours to print all 1,200 letters, stuff the envelopes, these represent just two of the many possibilities
and post it, which means the constituents do not that elected officials can employ to build support
receive that mail until a week-and-a-half after the amongst their base while in office – and gain loyalty
vote. By then it is old news. People are already talk- before the election season commences.
ing about the next big thing.
However, using a constituent management
system and emails, members theoretically can re-



Best Practices for Using CRM in Elected Office

1. Paperless workflow and assignment roles. – One of the promises of the 21st century has been the
“paperless office.” This vision of a completely electronic infrastructure has perhaps been forgot-
ten, but it is a feature of a CRM platform that can greatly increase the efficiency of a member’s
constituent mail and casework program. Specifically, a CRM platform provides a workflow for all
tasks and staffers then have their various roles. CRM can provide automation in this workflow
with assignment rules, for instance, that allow a letter to be drafted, approved, printed and sent
by different staffers without needing any paper printouts.
2. Automation – Extending on this principle, all kinds of automation can be provided by a CRM pro-
gram. For instance, a CRM program can provide greater functionality to process inbound emails
quickly and efficiently. It can also recognize the bulk receipt of emails through a messaging plat-
form and automatically batch the responses and recommend a form letter reply. Furthermore,
rules based on keywords or phrases can be used to filter inbounds or automatically reply to a
known message appropriately without any burden on staffers to process and identify the incom-
ing form.
This level of automation also allows offices to provide additional communications that they would
not otherwise be bothered. For instance, a rule can be created to automatically send a follow-up
to every legislative correspondence. This follow-up form would be schedule to send 2 weeks after
the closed response and include additional information related to their issue of concern. Like-
wise, rules can be created that monitor legislative action to automatically provide a brief update to
a constituent on any actions taken on bills they have previously expressed interest in.
3. Read all the “channels.” – Another best practice that can be adopted through a CRM platform’s
flexibility is going further than just processing mail and casework in building out your constit-
uent’s profiles. The Internet provides a multitude of avenues of communication and opinion
making. A comprehensive view of a constituent would not only include the communications with
a member’s office, but also any public comment or discussion on the Internet. This holistic ap-
proach only further enhances CRM’s prowess in a proactive messaging role.



The basic personality of the
Internet is interactive.
Interactive What is an interactive relationship? It is basically
Democracy a two-way relationship and a give and take of infor-
mation and content. The sender or elected official
must have the ability to receive information, and “in-
teractions” from the receiver or constituent. And the
STUART S. SHAPIRO receiver must be able to send back some form of ac-
ICONSTITUENT tion through the platform in use. For this relationship
to be effective, the constituent must be recognized
The Internet has forever changed the paradigm in the member’s delivery system and database as a
of representative government. For more than 200 person with a validated name and email address. For
years, the citizens of America have focused on elec- most elected officials, the primary basis of identity
tion cycles to produce their representative govern- and validation is that the constituent is a registered
ments. Now with the advancement of technology, voter. The prevailing attitude today is that only reg-
the universal acceptance of email as a primary means istered voters count because only they can make the
of communication and the penetration of high speed difference in elections. However, there are a few con-
Internet access, the advent of interactive constituent gressional members who believe that all constituents
communication with our elected officials will usher in are equally important regardless of whether or not
a new form of democracy: Interactive Democracy. they vote, and accordingly, those members will at-
tempt to communicate with as many constituents as
possible regardless of whether they vote or not.
Email e-newsletters have been the key to the
@ iConstituent provides e-
communications technology for
State and Federal office holders.
breakthroughs in this new and dynamic stage of ac-
tive interaction.
Every email e-newsletter that is mailed out
For more information, visit through an enterprise-based software system, such
www.iconstituent.com. as iConstituent’s Gateway, will carry a “tag” such as
an XML code that allows everyone receiving the e-
newsletter to have a separate and identifiable unique-
The basic personality of the Internet is interactive. ness within the database of the software system for
The Internet was built for people to communicate each e-newsletter. This enables the software to keep
with each other in real time. A broadcaster or mailer track of every interaction with that particular recipient
of content has only to wait for their recipient to click of the e-newsletter. As a result, any click-throughs or
on a link or an image and interactive networking be- surveys are easily tabulated and recorded. Although
gins. some skeptics are worried about privacy, there is
In the old days of “legacy” communication meth- strong evidence that constituents are profoundly sup-
ods, a constituent could only call, write, or visit the of- portive and want their elected officials to know them
fice of the member. Then, the constituent would most and to know how they feel about the issues.
likely receive a response by letter from the member Surveys are the “Killer App” of e-newsletter com-
within a month or longer. Although most congressio- munication, and dynamic Internet-based surveys are
nal offices still mail out “Franking approved” postal the foundation of Interactive Democracy.
letters, printed flyers, and newsletters a few times
a year to the registered voters in their districts, this The excitement about surveys is based on the
format and practice is on the wane. And yes, there incredibly high survey response rates and the speed
have been town hall meetings forever and constitu- with which they can be delivered. iConstituent gen-
ents can always visit a regional or Washington, DC erates between 25% – 60% survey response rates
office. But, before Web 2.0, our elected officials had (these are percentage-based on open rates or the
no opportunity to create active, two way dynamic re- views of the e-newsletters.).
lationships with constituents without direct personal One congressman emailed a welcome letter to
contact. launch his service with numerous surveys to 40,000
constituents. Within three hours of mailing, more than
4,000 constituents filled out the surveys, followed by
a continuing response for the next few days until the
total was almost 60% or 6000 of those constituents
who opened the e-newsletter. Sixteen percent of the



deliverable addresses or almost 11,000 constituents generate response rates in the 50,000 – 100,000
opened the e-newsletter. Surveys consistently exceed range. Compare these numbers to how many constit-
the click through rates of other web based informa- uents vote: 52,000 in congressional district primary,
tion. 150,000-200,000 or approximately 50% of the regis-
It is important that these surveys are in real-time tered voters in general elections.
and that the speed of response is so fast that an This is when it starts to get really exciting!
elected official can send out an email with a survey What happens when more people fill out a real-
to find out how constituents feel about an issue and time survey than actually vote in a general election?
have the answers within minutes. In addition, these
What happens when a majority of congressional
surveys are from voters and are more “scientific”
member’s constituency supports an issue that the
because members know who is filling out each re-
member does not agree with?
sponse and where they are located in the district.
What happens is that Interactive Democracy
The average U.S. House of Representatives dis-
might control the vote and the elected official might
trict contains about 600,000- 700,000 constituents
represent his or her constituency according to its
of whom, approximately half or 350,000 are regis-
“survey” will. At that point the electronic represen-
tered voters. The average primary registers about
tative power of government through interactive real
55,000 voters and only 50% of the registered voters
time technology will come of age!
show up to vote in a general election.
Remember, it is the legislation and laws that pass
through our representative branches that are the pri-
mary governing and influencing factors in our life.
Did you know? Yes, we elect our government every couple of years.
But it is the legislation and laws that are passed that
The average U.S. House of Representatives dis- affect our lives.
trict contains about 600,000- 700,000 constitu- It is inevitable that new forms of voting using the
ents of whom, approximately half or 350,000 are Internet will emerge in the next decade as the time
registered voters. and access to voting is expanded. However, it is the
communication bond between the politicians once
elected and their individual constituents that will be
The average mailing of congressional member’s the foundation of real-time Interactive Democracy.
e-newsletter is sent to about 40,000 – 50,000 con-
stituents, and of those, about 5,000 – 7,500 opt in to
continue to receive communications regularly. Cur-
rently, some offices have between 10,000 – 15,000 The communication bond
opted-in constituents and the goal of many offices between the politicians
for 2007 is to build their opt-in lists to 20,000 con- once elected and their
stituents. While average open rates of a mass email individual constituents
e-newsletter are 7% – 15%, the average open rates
of an email e-newsletter mailed only to an all opt-in that will be the foundation
list are 25% – 50%, and the average survey response of real-time Interactive
rates are 25% of opens. These statistics are based on Democracy.
a single mailing. Over four or more mailings, the total
number of constituents who are being contacted and
are responding tends to be double that of a single In the new web world, an individual citizen’s right
mailing. to voice an opinion will carry a new ability to directly
influence the outcome of legislation and then, hope-
fully, citizens and registered voters will become in-
The average open rates of an email e-newsletter creasingly better informed on policy issues facing
mailed only to an all opt-in list are 25% – 50%, them.
and the average survey response rates are 25% In addition to e-newsletters and their embedded
surveys, there are now many emerging platforms and
tools that are expanding the universe of Interactive
It is important to remember that these figures Democracy in Congress.
represent only the early years of this technological iTown Hall Telephone Meetings have recently
communication revolution. shown excellent results by connecting with hundreds
Within six years it is plausible that the average con- of constituents through a live hour long teleconfer-
gressional e-newsletter will successfully reach a view ence with a congressional member. During these in-
rate of 150,000 constituents, have more than 50,000 teractive conferences, constituents can ask the host
opted-in constituents, and surveys will consistently questions directly and participate in live interactive



surveys. The conferences can also be recorded and sides take each other more seriously and the rewards
posted on the website for future listening. These in- are obvious in numerous ways. The open rates grow
teractive Telephone Town Hall Meetings or iTown substantially, the trust between both parties flour-
Halls are like radio call-in shows, when constituents ishes, and the understanding of issues and positions
also get to speak directly to the member, ask ques- reflects an honest relationship which will ultimately
tions and have real time dialogue. In the current 110th lead to greater success for the elected official at the
Congress, because of the extended work schedule, polls thereby producing long term incumbency pro-
telephone conferencing with constituents back home tection.
will be increasingly more popular and effective in
outreach. Again, technology has enabled Interactive
SMS, or mobile phone short text messages, can
The opt-in process is
reach new constituencies and are an excellent means fundamental to enacting a
of instant alerts when a member is on TV or hold- real time interactive bond.
ing a conference. Perhaps the most important use of The receiver or constituent
SMS is the ability to opt-in constituents on impulse
using their mobile phones instead of a computer. In
must take the affirmative
the near future, offices will post the short code and action by saying: “yes, I
keywords (Member’s name) in all printed material want to receive these email
and in district offices. newsletters.”
Podcasting is just starting to take off and will soon
develop embedded surveys and various new forms
for interactivity. Podcasts are like a personal Internet Good government crosses party lines and closes
digital recorder and playback application and aggre- the differences between issues.
gator of content. You can download your audio/video These new forms of communication technologies
content and listen to or view it wherever you want. Ip- enable this unique relationship to grow like never be-
ods will become so connected and powerful that we fore in the history of democracy.
will just carry them around with us to time shift what
we want to watch and play on our High Definition In the House of Representatives, the opted-in
computer/TV flat screens. This election cycle will be constituent takes on uniquely important role. In
the breakthrough of podcasting for distributing po- 2003, Congress ruled that as long as a constituent
litical commercials. has opted-in to receiving electronic or other forms
of communication using the proper language and
RSS feeds, which are integrated into podcasting forms, then the member has the right to communi-
and numerous other forms of content, are another cate with that constituent without any blackout be-
excellent example of connected interactivity, allowing fore an election. Note that 90 days prior to an elec-
the user to choose and control what media to watch tion or primary, a member of Congress may not use
and listen to as soon as it gets published. taxpayer’s dollars to send out mail or contact them
Soon podcasts, web videos, RSS feeds will all unless they have chosen to opt into correspondence
have responsive surveys embedded in the content so by requesting to be signed up to a e-newsletter or
that the constituents can communicate their values other forms of constituent communication.
and impressions in a dynamic real-time environment, These guidelines are generally controlled through
further building the new foundations of Interactive the Franking Commission, which regulates congres-
Democracy. sional constituent contact.
Blogs are another excellent example of interac- When the House allowed opted-in email to con-
tive media and publishing. However, most elected tinue through this otherwise prohibited period, they
officials are afraid to participate actively in the com- ushered in the new electronic and Internet era of
menting and interactive forum aspect of blogs, and Congress and its constituencies. This was the begin-
choose to mostly post and publish without comment- ning stages of Interactive Democracy.
ing in real time. Blogs can add a more personal touch
to communication with a constituency and hopefully In the not too distant future, a congressional
will become more widely used once members get opted-in list will exceed 150,000 constituents. At that
more comfortable with the process. point the democratic process integrated into the con-
gressional constituent contact systems will generate
The opt-in process is fundamental to enacting a a representative and responsive form of government
real time interactive bond. The receiver or constitu- that will resonate one man, one woman, one vote in
ent must take the affirmative action by saying: “yes, real-time and all the time.
I want to receive these email newsletters.” Once this
bonded relationship is started, then the vested inter- At that tipping point, a congressional member’s
active process starts to flourish for both parties. Both survey might generate 100,000 responses on an is-
sue in less than two hours. Whether Democratic or



Republican or pro or con an issue, if 100,000 con-

stituents tell their member of Congress: “Vote yes on
Bill 101”, that would be the tipping point of represen-
tative real time Interactive Democracy!
It’s not far away. It will take on many forms of com-
munication systems, many different platforms, and
new tools and tags every year. However, the defin-
ing foundation will be real-time interactive dynamic
Democracy: a bonded relationship between elected
official and constituent. At that moment in time, de-
mocracy will take on a new form power in the hand
of the constituent, and democracy will empower the
constituent base of our great United States in a way
that our founding fathers envisioned would be the
representative republican democratic democracy in a
pure form, empowered through the riches of technol-



CHAPTER 24 munications quickly so that you can answer

them quickly.
3. Send individualized responses. Offices
need to send an initial, automatically-gen-
Finding the Ideal erated response by email or snail mail to
each piece of correspondence they receive.
CRM Program Those responses should be individualized
– something that a CRM program can help
for Members of 4.
you manage without creating extra work.
Manage the process. Most responses to
Congress inbound communications are form letters.
Your CRM program needs to make it easy
for you to match up your response to the
person and topic.
KEN WARD AND NICK SCHAPER 5. Respond often with follow-ups. Don’t miss
ADFERO GROUP the opportunity to communicate with your
constituents. Send follow-up correspon-
dence about the issues they care about.
On Capitol Hill, offices have always placed a
strong emphasis on the services they provide to their
constituents. It is constituents, after all, who turn For example, last week your congressional mem-
out on Election Day to re-elect them. Efficiently han- ber made a speech on immigration related to an
dling legislative mail and casework requests is the upcoming vote on the floor. Your office was flooded
foundation of the services that congressional offices with phone calls, email and letters from people who
provide. Good services equal job security. care deeply about immigration. An ideal CRM pro-
Offices all have varying procedures and goals for gram will help your office identify form emails, log
the response and turn around time for these commu- them, and assign them to receive a form letter.
nications and to assist in organization, most utilize Once the bulk of form emails removed out of
a software tool referred to as Correspondence Man- the inbox, you can focus on individual constituent
agement Software (CMS). Unfortunately, the process responses and tag them appropriately. Which orga-
oftentimes is insulated and far removed from the nizations are lobbying on the issue? Are those organi-
daily legislative business. Constituent Relationship zations pro or con immigration?
Management (CRM) promises to streamline the pro- Derive more information about each constituent.
cess – if you know how to use it. Is he pro amnesty, anti amnesty, pro more money for
A good CRM program for congressional offices border security, or pro building a big fence along the
should accomplish each of the tasks outlined in this border? Before the day is out, all of the email is sorted
chapter. and all have received a response. And you directed
people back to your site for more information.
Answering Inbound Communications
Inbound communications – all the letters and Case Work and Constituent Services
email that accumulate daily and that require a lot of Handling case work and constituent services well
staff time to answer – exist at the heart of every con- is a good way to build support in your district.
gressional office. An ideal CRM program’s first role is
to make answering those communications easier and
1. Use pre-approved templates for everything.
less time-consuming. Keep the following principles
– Congressional offices receive many differ-
in mind when developing a CRM program for your
ent requests: question about a federal agen-
cy, tours of the Capitol, flag requests, ser-
vice academy nominations, etc. Each stage
1. Derive as much information from your in- of these tasks should be scripted and should
bound communication as possible. All in- follow a similar formula.
bound communication needs to be tagged 2. Automate responses. – A good CRM pro-
and categorize. For more information on gram can prompt the right staffers to take
tagging, see chapter 21. the right actions when handling a case. For
2. Make it easy. Most CMS programs on the example, after 10 or 12 weeks, the program
Hill are too cumbersome. Sure, they can sort prompts your staffer to call the constitu-
inbound email, but they are neither easy-to- ent and let her know that you office has not
use nor fast. Sometimes they can even be heard back from the agency.
ineffective. You need to log inbound com-



3. Follow-up. – Let your constituents know that

you’re still working on their request. For example, your congressional member is about
to hold a press conference about campaign finance.
For example, Janet Trilby is a senior who resides in Who do you contact first? A CRM program will help
your district. She is having trouble with her social se- you generate a list that includes the right mix of me-
curity check. Her monthly check decreased by $200, dia – everyone from the reporter who covers the gov-
and she’s not sure why. She thinks there is a mistake. ernment reform beat at the Washington Post to the
Janet tried calling the Social Security office, but she reporter who profiles mavericks on the Hill to blog-
still hasn’t heard back from them. gers who write about campaign finance issues.
As a last resort, Janet walks into your district of- Your CRM program can also help you generate a
fice on Wednesday afternoon with her recent check secondary list of third party surrogates: associations
stub and tax documents from the past two years. and advocacy groups, like Common Cause, that have
This is an opportunity for your district office to shine a hat in the ring. You want to keep them informed
and be helpful. The staff assistant greets Janet, as- about what you are doing and develop relationships
sesses the problem, and arranges a meeting that day with them.
with the case worker in your office, Bill. Janet and Bill You probably want to generate two different emails
have a long talk, and Bill enters all the information he to both of these groups. Members of your press list
needs about Janet’s case in your CRM program. Bill can receive a simple announcement. However, you
can start processing the request on the spot. might consider sending talking points to the mem-
After Janet leaves, Bill logs a social security bers of your third party list.
agency request in to the database. This automati-
cally prompts two letters: one for the staff assistant Proactive Communication
to print out and mail to Janet and the other to the
This chapter isn’t just about using CRM to an-
agency. Bill fills in the blanks email with Janet’s infor-
swer and send email. CRM isn’t just a “quick fix”: it’s
mation and immediately sends it.
also an effectively tool to help you develop long-term
Three days later, the CRM program prompts your communications strategy.
office to send another letter to Janet to tell her that
the Congressional office submitted her appeal to the
social security administration. The letter tells Janet to 1. Plan your communications program for the
expect news in four to six weeks. week ahead or the month. – or even the en-
tire Congressional session. This includes:
A month later, when Bill hears that Janet’s check
reduction was in error and that the full amount would a. Identifying targets (based on dis-
be restored and reimbursed, he calls Janet and tells trict, what your boss wants to com-
her the good news. The case worker closes the case municate, what the party is trying
with a favorable outcome. This triggers a message to do, things you are identifying
two weeks later thanking Janet for coming to your of- among your constituents).
fice and expressing how glad you are that her request b. Drafting messages that can be used
was successfully fulfilled. down the road.
2. Make your communications concise. – The
Media and Press shorter your emails, the better. Your con-
stituents probably do not have a lot of time
Sure, CRM can manage constituent communica-
to scroll through an entire issue paper. Use
tions, but did you know that it can also help your me-
your online communications to introduce
dia outreach? Before you buy a system, however, you
an issue, and then send people back to your
may need to change the way you look at managing
website for more information. Or inform
your press contacts. Keep the following principles in
them about a bill they care about and ask
them to take a survey about the issue on
your website.
1. Allow the press contacts to determine their
preferred method of delivery. – Do they pre-
At your weekly staff meeting, you determine that
fer to subscribe to your media releases by
the big bill for the week is about transportation au-
RSS feed, fax, or daily email?
thorization. You talk about potential targets, and you
2. Categorize members of your press list by decide that since the transportation bill deals with
their beat. – Do they cover national news, highway funding, airports, and Homeland Security,
district news, television, or print? you want to target people who care about roads and
3. Generate reports. – Reports will help you safety, commuters, people who are frustrated with
determine successful and unsuccessful airline delays, and people who care about security.
pitches. You probably also want to target the members of your



constituency who work transportation. Additional Data Collection

You ask your legislative assistant to draft three Before congressional offices can begin to de-
brief emails that cater to each of those audiences. velop more effective constituent communications
Each of those emails will link to the floor schedule for strategies, however, they must tackle one obstacle
this week, the member’s most recent press release, which will grow rapidly in importance over the
an issue paper, and a survey. Your office sends an course of the next few years: the list. How do offic-
initial email, letting your constituents know about the es know who to email, who to snail mail, and which
upcoming vote. At the end of the week, your office topics to discuss?
sends a follow-up email, telling them how the vote
1. Ask questions. – Today, websites have
become one of the large frames through
which people interact with their elected of-

The 90-Day Plan for Your Congressional CRM Program

Weeks 1 – 4: Evaluate
• Evaluate your current CMS strengths and weaknesses.
• Determine the total number of constituents, email addresses and opt-in subscribers in your data-
• Examine your budget. Integrating multiple platforms may require extra funds.
• Educate both DC and district staff regarding the CRM philosophy.
• List the activities you currently track in your CMS.
• Aggregate a report of your previous unsolicited activities.
• Review your website’s traffic (visits and pageloads).
• Examine your current IT infrastructure.
• Evaluate current organizational hierarchy and needs for staffers.

Weeks 5 – 8: Plan

• Identify targets for communications and construct outreach strategy.

• Discuss “new media” strategies like blogging to engage your constituents.
• Identify the top four priorities/issues for the office to coordinate on this year.
• Discuss any offline activities (like town halls) that you want to track.
• Restructure your staff workflow for mail, casework and outbound messaging.
• Clean up your current database and affiliations.
• Plan out what metrics you want to monitor.

Weeks 9 – 12: Implement

• Map out activity templates for casework and district offices.

• Implement new “approval” workflows.
• Set reasonable goals for the turnaround of mail AND the growth of your opt-in list.
• Engage constituents with a wide range of issue surveys.
• Set up procedures for regular reporting on your metric with an eye towards modifying tactics to
achieve your goals.
• Begin targeted emails engaging constituents on weekly topics.



ficials. Go where the people are. Ask your Both of the above examples seem to suggest
visitors what they think on your website. that CRM is just for email and newsletters. Actually,
2. Send newsletters. – Want to generate more email and online communications are just one set
list signups? Give people something in re- of tools that offices can use to meet a larger goal:
turn – updates about the issues they care building relationships with constituents. An effec-
about. tive CRM tool will also allow staffers to generate an
email three days after someone signs up for the e-
3. Find an integrated system. – An integrated
newsletter list that says, “I just wanted to follow up
system automatically updates your website
with you in case you have not visited my website. I
after people fill out a form or take a survey
wanted you to know about all the services my of-
on your website. This lets you know who’s
fice can provide for you. Click here and learn more
responding in real time. The same is true
about how we can fly flags over the Capitol, or how
with newsletters. When someone signs up
you can contact my constituent services office in
to receive a newsletter, his or her informa-
the district if you have any trouble.”
tion is automatically updated in your da-
tabase, which instantly generates an email A week later, the system can generate another
back to the constituent thanking him or her email that says, “In case you or your family mem-
for signing up and encouraging him or her ber or somebody in your neighborhood is having
to click on a link to fill out a more-detailed trouble with any agencies in the federal govern-
survey that collects additional information ment, click here to learn who the staff person is
on the issues they care about. that you can call to help facilitate the process of
getting something done.”



APPENDIX I in the US-Japan Leadership program and done eco-

nomic development work in West Africa.
Mr. Burton has testified several times before
Congress and has lectured widely in the US, Europe,
Author Biographies Asia and Latin America. He holds an MA in political
economy from Columbia University, a BA from the
University of Pennsylvania and a Diplome de Langue
Jocelyn Bowman et Civilisation Francasies from the Sorbonne. He is a
CMDI member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Burton has edited three books, including Vi-
In 2004, Jocelyn Bowman joined CMDI’s team of sion for the 1990s: US Strategy and the Global Econ-
dedicated professionals who support political and omy, and written numerous articles on technology
nonprofit fundraising campaigns with data manage- policy and competitiveness, which have appeared in
ment systems and data processing services. With Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times,
a background in corporate strategy, Jocelyn works The Washington Quarterly, Scientific American and
closely with her clients to understand their overall Issues in Science and Technology.
goals, and she partners with them to ensure that
their messages reach the intended audience.
Bobby Clark
Deputy Director, ProgressNow Action
Daniel Bennett
Practitioner-in-Residence, Institute for Politics, Bobby Clark currently serves as Deputy Director
Democracy & the Internet of ProgressNow Action, a first-of-its-kind state-based
advocacy network. ProgressNow has played a major
Daniel Bennett founded DotGov Communica- role in changing the political landscape in Colorado
tions, the first private webhosters for Members and has created a national model for grassroots net-
of Congress. He set up the first federal legislative work development and alternative media strategies.
branch RSS feed. He previously was president of the
As one of the earliest staff members of Howard
House Systems Administrators Association, co-chair
Dean’s presidential campaign, Bobby helped pioneer
of the Legislative Documents Technical Committee
the campaign’s groundbreaking Internet outreach
of OASIS/LegalXML and winner of the Federal Com-
and fundraising programs that raised a record $25
puter Week’s Fed 100 Winner in 2000. Daniel was
Million online in fourteen months.
Technology Liaison for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo,
representative from California’s Silicon Valley. He is a Prior to joining Dean for America, Bobby worked
writer on technology and politics, including co-writer as a marketing executive, helping to start Internet
of “The Net Effect: How Cyberadvocacy is Changing companies in Colorado and California. He moved to
the Political Landscape” and was a columnist for The the political arena in the 2002 election cycle, serving
Cloakroom, a web site for the National Journal. Dan- as Deputy Campaign Manager for Colorado’s Elec-
iel Bennett received a BA degree from Hampshire tion-Day Voter Registration Initiative.
College, Amherst, MA. Bobby has consulted with political campaigns
and nonprofits across the country, helping them uti-
lize the Internet more effectively to build their base
Daniel F. Burton, Jr. of supporters and engage those supporters more ef-
Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy, fectively for outreach and fundraising.

Mr. Burton has played a leadership role in the de- Peter Churchill
velopment of US technology policy for over twenty Associate Director of CRM and Outreach Technology,
years. Prior to joining salesforce.com in January Center for American Progress
2006, he was Vice President of Government Affairs
for Entrust (2000-2005) and Vice President for Gov- Peter Churchill is the Associate Director of CRM
ernment Relations for Novell (1995-2000), where he and Outreach Technology at the Center for Ameri-
handled such issues as Internet security, online pri- can Progress. Prior to joining the Center, Peter spent
vacy, intellectual property, appropriations, education three months as a database analyst at the Webb for
and R&D. Previously, he was President of the Council Senate Campaign in Virginia, having graduated this
on Competitiveness where he was a pioneer in the ef- summer with a Master’s Degree in Political Manage-
fort to establish appropriate government technology ment from GW’s Graduate School of Political Man-
policies for the US high-tech industry. Before joining agement. While studying, Peter also worked at the
the Council, Mr. Burton was the Executive Director of Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet,
the Economic Policy Council of the United Nations where he successfully managed the 2006 Politics On-
Association-USA. He has also served as a Fellow line Conference. Peter originally hails from the UK,



where he spent nearly ten years working in Europe Committee in 1988 and as Deputy Counsel to the
and the USA designing and building contact manage- Carter/Mondale Presidential Committee in 1980. She
ment solutions for the corporate sector. received an M.Litt in History from Christ’s College,
Cambridge University, and a J.D. and a B.A. from
the University of Memphis. She is a member of the
Kendra Ann Crowley Adjunct Faculty of The Graduate School of Political
Management of the George Washington University.
Kendra Ann Crowley began her political work ex-
perience as an undergraduate student at the George
Washington University. In September of 2000 she Catherine Geanuracos
began interning at The National Network for Youth, a Data Analysis Consultant
national non-profit and non-partisan advocacy group
located in Washington DC. She then served as an Catherine Geanuracos is a voter file data man-
intern from January to August of 2001 in the legisla- agement and analysis consultant. During 2006, she
tion department at Common Cause, a membership worked to find drop-off Democrats and supportive
organization that works towards a more open and ac- independents in more than 60 competitive Senate
countable government and was part of a successful and House races for MoveOn.org Political Action’s
effort to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Call for Change campaign, helping to build a program
of 2002. In September of 2001 she was hired as a that mobilized progressive volunteers to make more
member of the full-time Common Cause staff and than 7 million phone calls. As part of Grassroots
worked as the program operations assistant until Campaigns, Inc., she also helped design and manage
January of 2002. Following her tenure at Common the field programs for Call for Change and Operation
Cause she continued her work on Campaign Finance Democracy. She began her work in progressive poli-
Reform on Capitol Hill in the office of Representative tics in 2004, when she took leave from a public health
Christopher Shays (R-4th/CT), a co-sponsor of the research position at the University of California, San
BCRA legislation. Upon graduation from the George Francisco to manage precinct and voter targeting for
Washington University, Kendra moved to Lewiston MoveOn’s 17-state Leave No Voter Behind program.
Maine to serve on the field team of Chellie Pingree’s Between elections she helped launch www.Moms-
campaign for the Senate in 2002. Kendra was the vol- Rising.org and worked with Mainstreet Moms’ Leave
unteer coordinator and get out the vote coordinator My Child Alone. She’s worked with dotOrganize to
for the 13 precincts in the towns of Lewiston and Au- help develop technical solutions that support social
burn Maine. Upon returning to DC she began work change, and her interests include GIS mapping and
at the Alliance for Better Campaigns, a public inter- academic analysis of progressive political initiatives.
est group working on various media reform issues. She’s a graduate of Columbia College at Columbia
Kendra was the Program Assistant at the Alliance for University and the University of California, Berkeley
Better Campaigns until she returned to the George and is currently based in Los Angeles.
Washington University to pursue a Master of Arts in
the Graduate School of Political Management. She is David Geilhufe
expected to graduate in July of 2007. She also holds Managing Partner, CivicSpace
a Graduate Certificate in Public Health Policy from
the George Washington University School of Public Born and raised in Silicon Valley, David Geilhufe
Health and Health Services. has been in and out of nonprofits, open source, tech-
nology and the private sector throughout his career.
Carol Darr He has founded non profits and open source proj-
Director, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the ects, developed venture-funded enterprise software
Internet systems, and mentored at-risk youth into high-tech
Carol Darr is the director of the Institute for Poli-
tics, Democracy & the Internet, whose mission of Julie Barko Germany
the Institute is to promote the development of U.S. Deputy Director, Institute for Politics, Democracy &
online politics in a manner that upholds democratic the Internet
values and increases citizen participation.
Carol Darr has spent most of her career in na- Julie Germany serves as the deputy director of the
tional politics and government. During the Clinton- Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at The
Gore Administration she served as the Acting Gen- George Washington University’s Graduate School of
eral Counsel of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Political Management.
She served as the General Counsel to the Democratic Julie is the principal author and editor of several
National Committee in the 1992 election. She has publications, including Person-to-Person-to-Person:
worked in a number of presidential campaigns, in- Harnessing the Political Power of Online Social Net-
cluding as Chief Counsel to the Dukakis/Bentsen works and User-Generated Content, as well as The



Politics-to-Go-Handbook: A Guide to Using Mobile the integration of the two foremost eCRM software
Technology in Politics and The Political Consultants’ and services vendors within the nonprofit sector. In
Online Fundraising Primer. She co-authored Putting addition, Sheeraz heads the Company’s partner pro-
Online Influentials to Work for Your Campaign. She gram.
has appeared in national and international newspa- Under Sheeraz’s leadership, GetActive become
pers, magazines, and media, including MSNBC, C- a leading provider of relationship management soft-
SPAN, Fox, CBS, and NBC. ware for membership organizations. His manage-
Julie previously served as the assistant to the ment of GetActive resulted in the attainment of over
president of ROME Foundation International, a non- 800 clients.
profit organization dedicated to providing health care Sheeraz is an active member of the Board of Di-
in emerging countries. She worked as a writer, editor rectors for Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network
and program manager for international initiatives in (N-TEN), the ePhilanthropy Foundation, and the As-
Korea, Ukraine, Haiti and the United States. Julie is sociation of Fundraising Professionals - Washington,
a founding board member of Young Champions, a DC, Chapter. He is an expert presenter at multiple
non-profit that addresses youth health issues, and a industry events sponsored by such organizations as
co-founder of Mobile Monday DC, the local chapter Politics Online, NTEN, PBS, NPR, National Council
of an international community of mobile technology for Nonprofit Associations, and Association of Fund-
experts and enthusiasts. raising Professionals. Before GetActive, Sheeraz led
As an undergraduate, she studied Literature, Phi- a product management team at Digital Impact, a
losophy and Classics at Messiah College. Julie also provider of online direct marketing solutions for en-
studied at Keble College, Oxford University, as well terprises. He has also worked as a strategy consul-
as in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was a Pew Younger tant for McKinsey & Company, where he served both
Scholar of Literature at the University of Notre Dame. nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Sheeraz has a
She received an M.A. from The George Washington BS from Brown University and an MS from Stanford
University, where she was a University Fellow. University.

Dave Greenberg David Hannigan

CiviCRM Co-founder, DEMPAC

Dave Greenberg has 25 years of experience in the Dave Hannigan served as Field Desk Co-Captain
application software, electronic commerce and bank- for the Webb campaign. In February 2007, he formed
ing industries. Prior to co-founding CiviCRM, Mr. DEMPAC with Webb campaign grassroots leaders to
Greenberg was a senior consultant to Groundspring. develop an online tool connecting volunteers with lo-
org where he lead the product design effort for their cal candidates.
online donation and email broadcast services, as well
as the customer billing systems.
Clay Johnson
Dave is a co-founder of two successful for-profit Founding Partner, Blue State Digital
ventures. North Tower Technologies provides web
application and eCommerce engineering services Clay Johnson is a founding partner at Blue State
to a variety of industries. Past clients have included Digital and is responsible for business development
Intel, Hewlett Packard, International Asset Systems, at Blue State Digital. He has many years of experi-
and Redpoint Ventures. Prior to North Tower, Dave ence building online communities and has played
co-founded MAXXUS, Inc. in 1985 where he served an integral role at the forefront of Internet technol-
as Vice President for Product Development (MAXX- ogy, including starting and directing three of his own
US was acquired by Sterling Commerce in 1995). At companies.
MAXXUS, he directed the development and delivery As a college student, Clay founded KnowPost.
of a suite of electronic commerce, EDI and cash man- com, the first Internet-based knowledge exchange,
agement products that were licensed to 400+ banks which connected people who had questions to peo-
nationwide for use by their commercial customers. ple who had answers. Clay’s work at KnowPost in-
Dave managed the product design, software engi- cluded building a community of over 100,000 people
neering, quality assurance and professional consult- who participated in this information exchange. Clay’s
ing teams. interest in knowledge management also led him to
work at Ask Jeeves as their lead syndication engi-
Sheeraz Haji neer.
President, Convio, Inc. Before starting Blue State Digital, Clay was the
lead national software engineer behind the online
As President of Convio, Inc., former CEO and co- grassroots organizing technology for Gov. Howard
founder of GetActive Software Sheeraz Haji is leading Dean’s presidential campaign. He built numerous



software programs, including one that enabled over

300,000 people to write letters and make 50,000 Ian Koski
phone calls to undecided voters. Founder and Creative Director, On Deck
Clay has been featured in the New York Times Communications Studio LLC
Magazine, TIME, Entrepreneur, Chronicle for Higher
Education and USA Today; he has also been inter- Ian Koski is the founder and creative director of On
viewed on CNN. He is an advisor for the New Pro- Deck Communication Studio LLC, a Washington-based
gressive Coalition and is a founder of Georgia for De- political graphic design firm that works with Demo-
mocracy. cratic candidates to create and deploy strong, clear
and precise visual identities. As On Deck’s creative
director, Ian builds strategic and creative Internet cam-
Benjamin Katz paigns and designs highly effective direct mail pieces.
Founder/President, CompleteCampaigns.com Before founding On Deck in 2005, Ian was the
director of public policy and communications at
Ben Katz began his career as a political operative
The Performance Institute, a nonpartisan think
in San Diego. He worked for a variety of campaigns
tank that promotes management reform in fed-
ranging from city council through U.S. Senate. He
eral, state, and local government. Ian had previ-
later founded a political consulting firm offering ser-
ously been a reporter for several newspapers in
vices in data management, fundraising, compliance
New York and suburban Philadelphia, writing on
reporting and general consulting. He recognized
a range of topics from politics to schools to crime.
a need for better software that could streamline a
Ian holds a bachelor’s degree in communication
campaign’s operations. In 2000, Katz started that
from Villanova University and a master’s degree in
project and founded CompleteCampaigns.com. Mr.
political management from the George Washington
Katz sought to provide tools that would make it easy
for every campaign to effectively manage, share and
transmit information between campaign staff.
The company has grown to serve over 700 clients Dave Leichtman
in nearly every state in the nation, and our services Co-founder, DEMPAC
have expanded to include online donation process-
ing, website content management, voter tracking, Dave Leichtman is a specialist in online com-
email hosting, and constituent management prod- munity development and helped manage the Webb
ucts for elected officials. campaign’s CRM database and other web tools. In
February 2007, he formed DEMPAC with Webb cam-
paign grassroots leaders to develop an online tool
Jonathan Karush connecting volunteers with local candidates.
Founder/President, Liberty Concepts

Jonathan Karush, Founder and President of Lib- Jeff Mascott

erty Concepts, the nation’s leading provider of civic Managing Director, Adfero Group
and campaign websites, consults to democratic cam-
paigns and numerous high profile nonprofits. Jona- Jeff is Managing Director of Adfero Group.
than has consulted to over 75 federal campaigns for He specializes in strategy development, as well
strategy and Internet development. As a former edi- as the creation of integrated campaigns for cli-
tor at the NetElection project, Jonathan has written ents, including associations, interest groups and
extensively on the role of the Internet in American Fortune 500 companies. Some of the clients
elections, and online voting. His article on the ‘Inter- Jeff works closely with include the U.S. Cham-
net and the Future of Democracy’ awarded him first ber of Commerce, AARP, Mazda, CTIA and NFIB.
prize from Ohio State University’s national public A frequent speaker and often interviewed ex-
policy essay competition. Jonathan is a Sagner Fel- pert on the intersection of public affairs and
low and a frequent speaker and correspondent on the the Internet, Jeff’s insights have been featured
Internet in civic life. by the USA Today, The Washington Post, The
Chicago Tribune, CNN.com, National Pub-
In 2000, Jonathan co-founded letnaderdebate. lic Radio, and other prominent media outlets.
org, one of the infamous ‘nader-trader’ vote swap- Prior to Adfero, Jeff served as the primary online
ping websites. In 2003 he received the Golden Dot communications consultant at the House Repub-
Award for best congressional campaign site, for Con- lican Conference under former Chairman U.S. Rep.
gressman Mike Michaud (ME-02). J.C. Watts, Jr. He has the distinction of designing
Jonathan has a B.A. cum laude from the Universi- the original GOP.gov website praised by The Con-
ty of Pennsylvania with distinction in political science gressional Management Foundation as “pushing
and is completing his Masters degree at Harvard the boundaries of what is possible for Congress
University. on the web.” Jeff also organized efforts to improve



online communication between members of the Nick holds a B.A. in Political Science from the
House of Representatives and their constituents. University of Central Florida, where he also studied
A native of the Washington, D.C. area, Jeff is an computer science and marketing.
alumnus of the University of Maryland. He and his Nick is an avid angler and lives with his wife, Cal-
wife, Jenn, reside in the Washington, D.C. area. lie, on Capitol Hill. He is originally from Orlando,
Christopher Massicotte Stuart Shapiro
Director of Sales and Marketing, NGP Software, Inc.
President, iConstituent
Christopher has an extensive business and po-
Stuart Shapiro is President of iConstituent, (icon-
litical background. He has a degree in Accounting
stituent.com), the leading provider of e-communica-
from Villanova University and a Masters degree in
tions technology to elected officials throughout the
Government Administration from the University of
country, including members of Congress and state
Pennsylvania. Christopher worked as an Informa-
legislatures. The Company provides a comprehensive
tion Systems auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers
suite of solutions and software for mass email com-
LLP where he was involved in the implementation of
munications, websites, data, iTownHall telephone
the ERP solution SAP at a Fortune 500 company. He
meetings, and SMS text messaging, for the House
then fulfilled the role of IT Auditor at the University
of Representatives, the Senate and numerous other
of Pennsylvania where he concentrated on improving
state legislatures, elected officials and politicians.
the protection of private information of patients at
Mr. Shapiro is one of the pioneers of constituent e-
the University’s five hospitals and for the University’s
communications and one of the first to use Email as a
student body. Chris became more deeply involved in
form of mass marketing constituent communication
politics in 2002 serving as a campaign treasurer and
for elected officials.
fundraiser for a state representative, and as a volun-
teer field director on Pennsylvania Governor Rendell’s Mr. Shapiro is a founder of several Internet com-
2002 campaign. Just prior to joining NGP Software munication ventures, including, AskDrMao.com,
as the Director of Sales and Marketing in 2005, Chris- Woodstock.com and Firstlook.com. In 2000, with co-
topher served as Finance Director for Congressman founders Danny Goldberg and Todd Rundgren, Mr.
Rush Holt (D-NJ). Shapiro launched ArtistEnt and Patronet, one of the
first Internet artist music subscription services. Mr.
Shapiro is credited with producing the 72 hour live
Laura S. Quinn Webcast of Woodstock99, at the time, the largest In-
Founder, Idealware ternet live music event in history.
As Idealware’s Founder and Director, Laura S. Mr. Shapiro’s diverse background as an author,
Quinn directs Idealware’s research and writing to producer and director include the DVD and book
provide candid reports and articles about nonprofit titled, This is Today, a history of NBC’s Today Show,
software. Prior to Idealware, Laura worked with Alder and Flash Frames, a book and DVD-ROM featuring
Consulting to help nonprofits create Internet strat- the best of Flash art from the Internet. Mr. Shapiro
egies, select appropriate software, and then build created, directed and produced the award winning
sophisticated websites on a limited budget. She has series, Night Flight, which series ran for 8 years on
also created Internet strategies, selected software, the USA Network. He also produced numerous fea-
designed interfaces and conducted user research for ture films including, Mondo New York, Comedy’s
multi-million dollar software and Website implemen- Dirtiest Dozen which helped launch the careers of
tations with such companies as Accenture and iXL. Tim Allen and Chris Rock, and Only The Strong, the
Laura is a frequent speaker and writer on nonprofit soundtrack which contained the original now famous
technology topics. Mazda song, “Zoom Zoom Zoom.”
Shapiro pioneered Music Video Magazines in
1989 and produced and distributed them through
Nick Shaper VPI/Harmony, a joint venture with BMG. These
Adfero Group original series included MetalHead, Country Music,
At Adfero Group, Nick works with all congressio- Dance International, Impact and Slammin’ Rap.
nal clients on projects ranging from website develop- Shapiro began his career as an independent
ment to constituent relationship management. concert promoter and manager. In 1974 he became
Prior to joining Adfero, Nick served as Legislative president of International Harmony, a film produc-
Assistant and Systems Administrator to Congress- tion and distribution company that released cult clas-
man Ric Keller of Florida. While there, Nick advised sics such as TunnelVision, Neil Young’s Rust Never
the Congressman on issues relating to appropria- Sleeps, Bob Marley’s Reggae Sunsplash, Jimi Plays
tions, defense, foreign affairs, trade and transporta- Berkley, Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii, and the Sex Pis-
tion, as well as resolving all technical issues. tols’ DOA, and J-Men Forever.



Mr. Shapiro is a graduate of Union College, Institute Aaron Welch

American in France, and Worcester Academy. Co-Founder, Advomatic

Aaron’s background was originally in the live per-

Jon Thorsen formance and arts arena, holding a BFA in Perfor-
Vice President, Strategic Solutions, Kintera Inc.
mance Production from Cornish College of the Arts,
Jon Thorsen is vice president, strategic solutions in Seattle, WA. He began his career working in live
for Kintera Inc., the leading provider of software as a theatre in the Pacific Northwest as a sound designer
service for the nonprofit community. Prior to joining and production engineer. There he started program-
Kintera, Jon spent five years at the national headquar- ming show control software for automation systems
ters of the American Red Cross, where he created the and custom hardware interfaces. After building web-
development resources team, which brought together sites for various theatres as side projects, he went on
development research, information systems, donor to develop web applications for a variety of institu-
relationship management, government and founda- tions including the Museum of Glass: International
tion grants, and donor recognition and stewardship. Center for Contemporary Art and Dean for America’s
Prior to joining the Red Cross, Jon spent his career Iowa Campaign. Shortly after his work on the Dean
in higher education. Most recently, he served as direc- campaign ended, he went on to found Advomatic.
tor of development research at Princeton University Aaron was one of the first contributing develop-
during a comprehensive fundraising campaign that ers to the Open Source content management system
raised over one billion dollars. He earned his BA and (CMS), CivicSpace. Civicspace is a distribution of the
MLIS degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Mil- powerful Drupal CMS and his work often involved
waukee and worked as a college librarian and instruc- parallel development for both systems. He has built
tor before joining the development profession in 1987. a variety of integral modules for Drupal, as well as a
Jon is a former president of the Association of few patches to the core system. Aaron’s specialty is
Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA), integrating external applications with Drupal, having
and received the APRA Service Award in 1999. He is a done so with many broadcast email and CRM sys-
frequent presenter at local and national conferences tems for a wide variety of clients.
of APRA, CASE and AFP, and his articles on fundrais- At Advomatic, Aaron spends most of his time
ing have appeared in such journals as CASE Currents, developing and running the business side of things.
Corporate Giving Watch, Foundation Reporter, APRA Always finding new ways to streamline development
Connections, and The Non-Profit Times. processes and infrastructure management tasks, he
ensures that Advomatic can continue to grow at the
Ken Ward astonishing rate it has in the past few years. Aaron
Vice President, Adfero Group also manages the specialized hosting platform Advo-
matic offers, which focuses on highly available, highly
Ken is Vice President of Adfero Group. He coordi- scalable clustered Drupal hosting.
nates the planning, deployment and ongoing efforts In his spare time he scuba dives and eats fire.
of most Adfero accounts, including CTIA, NPRA,
Koch Industries and Congressional accounts. Ken has
spearheaded the development of Adfero’s Constitu- Jason Zanon
ent Relationship Management tools for Congress. Direcotor of Outreach & Development,
Ken has a unique blend of Capitol Hill insight and
Internet knowledge, which gives him unparalleled in- Jason Zanon is the Director of Outreach & De-
sight into the needs of Adfero clients. Prior to work- velopment for DemocracyInAction.org. He cut his
ing at Adfero, Ken worked as a Legislative Assistant nonprofit teeth in the development office of the Na-
and Deputy Press Secretary for Rep. Richard Pombo. tional Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, where
He also worked in Government Relations with Cope- he eventually served as Interim Executive Director.
land Lowery & Jacquez and on the Central Valley Re- He also created the Coalition’s email newsletter and
publican Victory Campaign. online advocacy programs, accidentally transition-
Ken earned his B.S. in Computer Science, with a ing his career into nonprofit technology and online
minor in Mathematics from Georgetown University communications. An inveterate traveler, Jason has
in Washington, D.C. dabbled in freelance journalism and nannying chil-
Outside of the office, Ken enjoys both golfing and dren. He holds a political science degree from Lewis
sailing. At Georgetown, Ken served as the captain of & Clark College in Portland, Ore.
their National Championship winning sailing team.
Originally from Newport Beach, California; he now
lives in Arlington, Virginia and is engaged to his fian-
cée, Erin.


The Institute for Politics Democracy & the Internet
The Graduate School of Political Management
The George Washington University
805 21st St., NW, Suite 401
Washington, DC 20052