Last Dance

In the 2004 Elections as an Engagement Opportunity for Everyone: c(3)s, c(4)s, Campaigns, and Beyond session, there are a lot of people who want to beat Bush. I might be in the wrong place. I was hoping this would focus specifically on the online organizing strategies. I probably didn’t read the description well enough. It’s more about we can do as (c)3 organization to affect the election. An important topic, to be sure.

I’m so glad the facilitator is having us go around the room and introduce ourselves! This is the first and only session where I’ve seen this happen. This is so helpful because it enables a bunch of networking that can happen after the workshop. If I see someone who sounds interesting, I can talk to them afterward. It’s like getting a free peek at 20-30 of the 700 amazing people here. I’ll write more about this networking stuff in a later post, I think.

John Hlinko, who started DraftWesleyClark.com wants me to tell you about the online dating service for activists that he and his loved one founded (they met online!). It’s called ActForLove.com and the slogan is “take action, get action.” Cute.

There are folks here from the Management Assistance Program, whose Library I love and use all the time. Since I probably won’t remember to go over and tell them in person, I want to give them a shout out here. Thanks, Sheldon!

So Greg moves us on to the topic of voter registration & lists:

Yourvotematters.com is Working Assets’ online voter registration hub.

This only works thanks to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which has
led to standardization across the country. What a good thing! Too bad you still have to complete the process by printing, signing, and mailing the form. Actually, that’s probably not too bad of a thing. Online registration could open up the same can of smelly worms that is being uprooted by the online voting concept. Nice theory, dangerous application.

Also earthday.net wants to register lots of people, musicforamerica.com is doing concerts with voter reg drives, and of course rockthevote.com – by now a venerable dinosaur in this field – is on the case.

Tanya Zumach (whose presentation I loved yesterday) talked about list enhancement, which is a wonderful thing.
We have a great group in North Carolina that does list enhancement: Peace LEAP.
Tanya’s doing it with a GLBT network. She says the cost can vary from zero to thousands of dollars. She says that 50-80% of the membership of most nonprofit lists is registered – this is more than the general public, but it leaves a great goal for us to get the rest of them registered Rob Stuart says not enough organizations are doing list enhancement – let’s get to work.

Could e-mail enhancement (address matching) lead to SpamForChange.org?
Lots of folks here have concerns about privacy and spamming our
supporters, but it’s all for the cause. Is it justified?

Marty says what about messaging strategy? Folks need to do advocacy communications, not just branding and PR. What’s our communication capacity? You can’t just say “we don’t have communication staff” and get off the hook.

John Hlinko says “it’s much easier to ride a tidal wave than to make one with your hands.” Take advantage of media attention to other issues and events. Great idea. For example, you can generate earned media (news coverage) for your local delegation to the national March for Women’s Lives. Then you are promoting your local organization and/or issue as well as the March. It’s a win-win.

Rob Stuart pointed out that environmental groups (for example) are considered to be a “trusted source” by many voters, even moreso when they’re local groups. I quaked in fear when Rich Cowan started actually talking about the issues. Sorry, but we can’t start discussing Bush here, it’s already 90 degrees in this tiny room and it’s after 5 o’clock.

Tanya has a great idea about letting activist make their own personal voter guides to share with friends online. Someone please do this!

This session was the first time I started to feel like I was getting to
know some of the people that I keep seeing around at the conference. Even though it wasn’t as well organized as it could have been, I’m really grateful to Greg for pretty much letting do what we want and connect to each other in his workshop. It was a good conversation, and I think it was very helpful for most of the participants, but it was nothing I needed for my professional or personal activism.

As a colleague just noted, “this feels like being a college student sitting in a high school class.” This doesn’t just apply to this session, a lot of us have been doing this nonprofit technology stuff for a long time – we’re ready for grad school!

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