Impactive’s Guide to Transitioning to In-Person Organizing

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.


What tactics from the last year and a half have allowed us to achieve our goals?

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.


Who have our organizing efforts the last year and a half included? What groups of people have we unintentionally excluded? 

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.


How can we maintain and build on the accessibility these tactics have allowed for in the next phase of the pandemic?

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.


What have we been missing over the last year?

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.


With these reflections in mind, consider these recommendations for blending in-person and digital organizing tactics:

  • Hold an in-person friend bank for volunteers in one region while continuing weekly virtual relational friend banks for those who prefer Zoom events.
  • Continue sending push notifications, text reminders, and confirmation calls to volunteer leaders who RSVP-ed to in-person and virtual events. 
  • Encourage volunteer leaders to limit text banks or trainings to their close circles or quarantine pods, especially if they have varied risk levels or are living with unvaccinated children.
  • Continue using the digital resources that you’ve built during the pandemic. Check out our resource on virtual volunteer training for relational friend banks and our deck for peer-to-peer volunteer training. 
  • Consider directing volunteers to events associated with vaccine uptake. For example, we worked with partners in Las Vegas to invite community members to an in-person Cinco de Mayo gathering with a free vaccine clinic.
  • If you do hold large in-person gatherings, be sure to explicitly follow local and CDC guidelines for masking to ensure attendees with varying risk levels feel safe.


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 support@impactive.io.

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