Relational organizing means reaching out to friends or family to get them to take action. You might invite them to register to vote, endorse a specific candidate, or call their legislator about an issue; regardless of the goal, you’re a trusted messenger that can compel someone you know to get involved. 

As an organizer or campaign administrator, relational organizing is an important tool to catalyze community involvement and build momentum behind your cause. Relational organizing tools like Impactive help you set up relational campaigns that are easy for your volunteers to participate in, and can yield meaningful results. But you might have questions about what relational organizing means, and how to get started. Look no further! 

What is relational organizing? 

Relational organizing happens when a volunteer reaches out to someone they know to invite them to take action. Relational organizing is different from other types of organizing, like door-knocking or phone banking, because contacts are being reached by trusted messengers: people they know and care about. 

Is relational organizing effective? 

Definitely. Impactive participated in the most robust relational organizing study to date, which analyzed the impact of relational text messages (text messages to friends or family) in the 2018 midterms. The study, conducted in partnership with Columbia University’s Institute of Data Science, found that relational text messages increased likelihood to vote by 8.3%, a much larger impact than other organizing methods may achieve. 

How should I structure a relational organizing conversation? 

You’ll probably structure your relational organizing conversations differently depending on the outreach method you’re using (see below). If your campaign decides to focus on relational outreach using text messaging, conversations will probably be shorter and more to the point. Phone, Zoom, or in-person conversations offer a deeper opportunity to activate contacts for your cause. 

When encouraging relational contact within your volunteer base, remind them to focus on both listening and storytelling. Volunteers can start by asking their friend or family member why they care about (or don’t care about) the issue or election at hand. Volunteers can then ask follow-up questions, and listen with a genuine intent to understand. After they’ve digested where they currently stand on the election or issue, they may want to humbly offer their own story. They can mention how they first got passionate about this cause, and the steps they’ve taken to get further involved. 

At the end of the conversation, volunteers should always remember to make a direct ask: will their friend and family member make a donation? Will they join a future fundraising event? Will they share a post on social media? Any of these steps indicate a very successful relational organizing conversation. 

What are the different relational organizing outreach methods? 

It doesn’t matter how volunteers reach out to their contacts - any form of outreach counts as relational organizing. Text messaging is one of the most popular forms of relational organizing, because it’s easy to fire off a few text messages, and volunteers probably already talk to your contacts via that channel. But depending on the relationships within their network, other channels like email, phone calls, or social media messages could be a better fit. And don’t forget - posting about a cause and encouraging followers to take action on social media also counts as relational organizing! 

How much does relational organizing cost? 

One of the best things about relational organizing is how cost-effective it is. Compared to other forms of organizing, like door-knocking and canvassing that often require some amount of paid staff, relational organizing can be entirely volunteer-driven. In fact, relational organizing can be entirely free if you simply want to encourage your volunteers to reach out to their contacts on their own. For a more sophisticated and effective relational organizing campaign, consider a small investment in relational organizing software; your volunteers will have an easier time reaching out to their contacts, and you’ll be able to collect valuable data on the conversations they’re having. 

How can I start relational organizing? 

Anyone can start relational organizing by reaching out to their friends and family about politics or social issues. For example, volunteers for an upcoming city council election can text a friend and ask them how they’re voting! They may not be aware of the upcoming election or haven't thought about who they’ll vote for yet. It might seem uncomfortable to reach out for the first time, but volunteers are likely to find that their contacts are surprisingly excited about learning more about the issues they care about. 

If you’re an organizer or campaign administrator looking to set up a relational organizing campaign for your volunteers, check out relational organizing software like Impactive. It’s very easy to get set up: your volunteers could be texting their contacts within a day. 

Schedule a demo today to learn more. 

Sep 30, 2022
Tools & Tech