Phone canvassing guide: reach more voters with mobile devices

March 18, 2024 | NGP VAN
A man holding a cell phone and a laptop participates in phone canvassing from his kitchen at home.

On political campaigns, every dollar and every hour is crucial. Since campaigns often have limited funding and staff, allocating resources effectively to give your campaign the widest reach possible can be a challenge. That’s why you should use every tool at your disposal to run more efficient and effective operations — including your phone.

By utilizing phone canvassing and mobile canvassing apps, you can reach more voters while saving your team time and effort. Explore this guide to learn the basics of phone canvassing and mobile canvassing and how you can get started.

What is phone canvassing?

Political canvassing typically refers to going door-to-door to speak with voters in person about an election or candidate, but you can also canvass via phone. Phone canvassing allows volunteers to connect with voters through phone banking.

Phone banking

Phone banking involves staff members and volunteers calling voters to spread awareness of your campaign, learn about voters’ opinions, and persuade undecided voters. The basic process looks like this:

  1. Organizers provide volunteers with a call list and a script to guide their conversations.
  2. Volunteers call voters and have one-on-one conversations about the election, your campaign, and voters’ opinions. 
  3. Volunteers record voters’ responses to survey questions and other important information in phone banking software.

With the right software, volunteers can phone bank for your campaign both at organized phone canvassing events and individually from their homes. This option provides more flexibility for volunteers and ultimately helps you canvass more voters more efficiently.

What is mobile canvassing?

Mobile canvassing helps campaigns become more agile and successful. You make it easier to maximize volunteer output and save time and money by using mobile canvassing apps.

For example, by taking advantage of mobile canvassing apps, campaigns save money on supplies like printers, paper, and toner, and they save valuable staff time by empowering their volunteers to input data directly in the app. When organizers are no longer printing and assembling packets, they can spend more time developing the local leadership that campaigns need to scale up their operations effectively.

Door-to-door canvassing with mobile apps

Using mobile canvassing apps like MiniVAN, you can take your door-to-door canvassing strategy to the next level. 

Getting volunteers engaged and ready to hit the doors requires a lot of work, so it’s crucial that you make the most of their time and effort. To help you boost efficiency and connect with more voters, mobile canvassing apps allow you to:

  • Have volunteers enter data, saving you or your staff hours of data entry
  • Give volunteers an easy way to navigate through a targeted list of voter households
  • Empower volunteers to have guided conversations with voters with templated scriptsSee canvassers’ locations

With MiniVAN Manager, you can track volunteers’ progress on the doors in real-time. This add-on feature helps you see canvassers’ locations, monitor contact rates and locations, and more. If canvassers are finishing their turfs and they want to knock through another, you just need to text them the new list number so they can download a new list if they don’t have another one already.

In the video below, learn how campaigns and causes use our mobile canvassing app, MiniVAN!

Learn how MiniVAN can help you run more efficient and effective canvassing operations for your political campaign or cause.

How to get started with phone canvassing and mobile canvassing

When you’re ready to start, follow these three steps to find success with phone canvassing and mobile canvassing.

1. Choose the right tools

One of the first things you should do when starting outreach is to find the right phone canvassing software and canvassing app. Depending on the type of canvassing you want to get started with, you’ll need at least one of the following tools:

Phone banking software

Phone banking software allows your volunteers to call voters from anywhere, making it easy to participate in virtual phone banking on their own time. Volunteers can access virtual phone banks from links you send to them, and then easily record data about those calls to targeted voters within the phone banking software.

Mobile canvassing apps

Along with helping you track door-to-door canvassers, apps like MiniVAN allow volunteers to sync canvassing results with your campaign’s voter database in real-time, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Organizers can also use Distributed Contacts (our distributed canvassing functionality) to send a list number to volunteers remotely, and they’ll knock a specific number of doors closest to them rather than having to drive to a specific turf.

For the voters you missed on the doors, you can try to reach out to them through other channels like texts, phone calls, or digital ads.

Plus, with reliable canvasser attribution, you can track which volunteers spoke with each voter across different contact systems, including MiniVAN and Open Virtual Phone Banks. This attribution can help you identify your canvassing superstars and those who may need more assistance.

2. Write your scripts

Once you have the right tools at your disposal, compile multiple scripts that canvassers can use to connect with voters. Provide basic information to share about the campaign, questions to ask, and a variety of responses they can give to voters with different levels of support.

Tailor your mobile canvassing scripts based on where in the campaign cycle you are and your immediate goals. For instance, you might create different scripts for:

While canvassers should use these scripts to guide their conversations, emphasize that they don’t have to stick to them word for word. Encourage volunteers to add personal touches, such as why they are volunteering with your campaign.

3. Recruit and train volunteers

Finally, use all of your communication channels to recruit volunteers and set them up for success. During recruitment, highlight all of the different phone canvassing opportunities you offer. Encourage potential volunteers to sign up to help spread the word about the campaign, and remind them that field organizers will support them every step of the way.

As you train volunteers on how to canvass, provide them with step-by-step instructions for navigating your phone canvassing and mobile canvassing apps. Share tips and tricks for deepening conversations with voters both in person and over the phone, and provide the contact information of an organizer they can reach out to with questions.

[H2] Power your field plan with phone canvassing and mobile canvassing

Canvassing not only helps your campaign reach more voters — it also empowers your volunteers to canvass more efficiently and effectively, ultimately driving more impactful conversations with your target voters. 

Ready to improve your field plan and win more votes with phone canvassing and mobile canvassing? Learn how NGP VAN’s powerful software solutions can help you get started.