Would you rather be contacted by a stranger or a friend? Personally, I would almost always prefer talking to a friend. So when I ran for office, the vast majority of our outreach efforts were friend-to-friend. The strategy worked so well that we won our race despite being outspent thirty to one. Following the campaign, we started VoterCircle to help others do the same. We had some early successes and were part of some amazing victories. We assumed it was just a matter of time before every campaign and organization relied on friend-to-friend to outreach.
However, we soon realized that many of our early successes relied upon amazing practitioners running well designed and executed programs. The hard truth was that for volunteers, VoterCircle was a bit too hard to use and, the feature set didn’t solve enough of the problems campaigns and organizations face when onboarding and working with their supporters. We spent 2016 and 2017 refining our initial product and realized our original approach had major shortcomings. So we decided to start all over from scratch! After close to two years of planning and development, we launched OutreachCircle earlier this year. But before I go into the new platform, let me review what we learned and the problems we sought to solve.
Gaps in Civic/Political Tech
When we started the company, we noticed that the vast majority of outreach efforts were stranger-to-stranger. Our core focus was to enable warm friend-to-friend outreach. After working with a couple thousand clients, we noticed the same problems time and again limiting our clients in their outreach efforts (as well as limiting their ability to scale VoterCircle), such as:
Ramp and start over instead of build, maintain and grow.Most programs (and the tech supporting their efforts) were designed for short term engagement. As a result most outreach efforts are implemented as short sprints every two to four years.
Volunteer and task management.When a volunteer offered to help a campaign or cause, there was no easy way to manage and track their efforts.
Proliferation of tech tools.Integrating numerous civic tech tools has become overwhelming for both organizations as well as their supporters
Paper and pencil sign up sheets.The most common way to collect information at events, town halls and rallies was through paper and pencil. The subsequent data entry is painful and always has errors.
Slow onboarding requiring training.Speed and simplicity are important for scale. Civic tools generally require material training which makes it hard to grow quickly.
After close to two years of planning and development, we launched OutreachCircle, a relationship-based outreach platform that builds long term engagement. With our new supporter action hub, we make it easy for you to recruit and engage your supporters, volunteers and donors. Using our pioneering relational organizing technology, we make it easy for your supporters to reach out to their friends, family and neighbors.
Key benefits of OutreachCircle include:
Supporter and task management hub.Finally, a place to manage all the actions you want your supporters to take!!!
Designed for long-term engagement.In addition to serving a wide array of use cases, we offer low cost off-cycle pricing and the platform is easy to use. So you can keep OutreachCircle going even when budgets are tight and your staff is lean. Best of all, your supporters are accessible the next time you need to activate them.
One stop shop for volunteer, donor, activist, and staff engagement.All supporter-facing tools can be coordinated and accessed in one place.
10-second, rapid onboarding with no app download required.In our user surveys, the number one complaint we heard was that supporters didn’t want to download an app. Supporters can now onboard themselves from any browser (mobile, tablet or desktop). In under 10 seconds you can collect contact information and avoid signup sheets and unnecessary data entry. OutreachCircle also offers iPhone and Android apps for users that prefer to download an app.
No training required.Our new supporter platform has been designed with a goal of no training required. If you want scale, you need simplicity and ease of use.
It all starts with our supporter action hub, where you can recruit, track and manage your supporters. You can create ladders of engagement that start with simple actions, then build up to larger asks. A sample workflow could be to start with watching a video, sharing on social media, attending an event and then work up to volunteering or donating. It’s easy to see what actions your supporters are taking and assign them new tasks. You can even create multiple workflows for different teams or groups supporting your efforts. Lastly, the supporter hub supports both native OutreachCircle actions as well as third-party integrations.
Since our inception we have been helping our clients with our patented relational organizing technology. Your supporters can advocate on your behalf via any medium they choose – text, email, social and soon phone and in-person contact. If you would like your supporters to reach out to a target audience such as an electorate, donor file or employee database, our real time mapping technology will match your supporters’ personal address books against any file or database in seconds.
The approach is backed by significant research. Most recently in April 2019, Politics and Policy published a study that showed over a 20% turnout bump in one of our local races for voters contacted by their friends.
Try OutreachCircle Today
Sangeeth Peruri is the CEO and founder of OutreachCircle, a digital organizing platform that harnesses the power of personal relationships to inspire action and drive change. Formerly president of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees, he serves on the boards of Orenda Education, Think Together and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. In his spare time, he is a fitness fanatic and competed on American Ninja Warrior 6 (check out his video here).