Open Source Canvass Co-op

“Canvassing can be one of the most effective forms of civic outreach, but it’s also one of the most resource-intensive. As a result, most canvasses are designed to just recoup their own cost by prospecting for new donors and upselling existing ones. Instead of serving as an engine of civic education (for those who are canvassed and the canvassers alike), the canvass just extracts as much money as possible. Civic engagement objectives like even simple voter registration usually get left off the clipboard. (Those groups that do undertake voter reg canvassing usually come too little too late, and their lists usually disappear when their campaign disappears.)

I haven’t crunched any numbers, but my gut says this script could be flipped.

The Canvass Co-op would establish standing capacity for voter reg, issue ID, and general civic education. Because the canvassers wouldn’t be relentlessly focusing on asking for money, they’ll develop a bigger, better list of people who are signed up because they care (or could care) and they vote. That entire list can be accessible (within limits) to all of the Co-op’s member organizations, who could never afford to develop one on their own. As a privilege of organizational membership, the canvass can put primary focus on each orgs’ issues/messages on a rotating bases.

This would distribute the cost and benefit of the canvass, giving each organization an opportunity to ‘ramp up’ when needed while maintaining a standing, standardized voter reg/ed operation to the benefit of all.

The question is whether the numbers could work out to ensure that the canvasser workforce can earn living wages and also gain valuable non-cynical political training.”

Submitted by: Greg Bloom