As many communities in the United States begin to reach high vaccination rates, in-person organizing is becoming more and more feasible. But many campaigns and organizations are facing a difficult transition from purely digital to hybrid digital and in-person organizing efforts. To help with this transition, the Impactive team developed a framework for teams to assess how to begin in-person organizing.
To begin, take some time within your organization to reflect on learnings from the last year, and goals for moving forward. You can use the below questions as a guide for your internal teams and volunteers. We recommend gathering data from an internal staff discussion, a member survey, or interviews with volunteer leaders. As always, ensure that you speak to a diverse group of leaders whose experiences, identities, and geographies vary.
Many of our partners have found that remote Zoom trainings and virtual text banks allow for more rural and distributed volunteer leaders to take part in activism opportunities.
Other tactics include encouraging people to look up friends and neighbors in the voter file from the comfort of their own homes, inviting friends to Zoom trainings via Impactive’s Friends and Family Messaging functionality, and creating virtual training and leadership development opportunities for those across geographic boundaries.
Additionally, many advocacy organizations began doing virtual advocacy days with state legislators and members of Congress. This budget-friendly option greatly reduces air travel costs and logistical planning, without minimizing the impact of volunteers' stories in shaping legislative policy.
Consider if your tactics have allowed folks from various backgrounds or abilities to be a part of your communities. Many organizations have found that virtual organizing opportunities allow participation from those more geographically isolated, but exclude people with disabilities who can't use a mobile app or participate in Zoom calls or video trainings.
It's worth reflecting on how a hybrid model of organizing can serve a wider population of volunteers, both those who can access virtual technology and those who can't.
For example, did you begin adding closed captioning to your training videos this year and circulate them to all your leaders? Keep up that positive trend while also beginning to invite volunteers to in-depth, in-person organizer trainings.
The longing for in-person connection is real. Honor that, and plan for ways to build an in-person connection at events for those who are ready.
Maybe you’ve lost touch with former volunteers due to a lack of digital fluency. Consider how you might re-invite them into your community as your team transitions to more in-person activities.
We hope these reflection questions and suggestions will help your teams create a balanced and transparent internal plan for implementing a hybrid model of both virtual and in-person experiences. As always, be sure to over-communicate with your leaders and staff about safety precautions, timelines, and expectations.
As you continue gathering feedback from your supporters around this transition, we’d love to hear how it’s going. Reach out to us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.