Many people think that canvassing—walking door-to-door to speak with people about specific issues—is reserved for the few months or weeks leading up to an election. This is because most people do not take part in the democratic process outside of voting every 2 or 4 years. As political experts we know that the majority of policy decisions occur between elections. The public rarely takes a proactive role in shaping public policy. Ironically, many people forget just how much power a constituency holds if they are educated about the problems facing them and are able to convey a solution-oriented message to their representatives. When voters speak with a unified voice, policymakers are forced to listen and take action.
One measure of success for canvassing is whether or not your efforts influenced the conversation and motivated policymakers to vote according to your client’s goals. For the same reasons that you or your clients hire professional lobbyists to convey the proper message to the most influential legislators, BDO can be the group that reaches out to the constituents of the legislators you are working so hard to influence and activates what is arguably the most powerful political weapon in any arsenal: the voice of the voting public.
Scaling quickly to meet client needs
Conducting complex and large outreach programs
Below you will find examples of the styles of canvass campaigns we offer to help you influence policymakers. BDO will work closely with you or your clients to develop a campaign plan specific to your goals. All of these options can be scaled up or down quickly depending on your needs as the campaign evolves.
Short-term or “quick hit” projects (3-7 days)
- BDO will assemble a team of canvassers to speak with voters in targeted areas about a specific issue and ask people to take action by signing a post card, petition, or statement of support.
- These campaigns generate targeted political influence and a visual display of community support or concern that you can present to policymakers.
Month long or partial session projects
- This option is well-suited for those who seek a larger, more sustained effort that allows the client to take a more thoughtful approach to thoroughly inform the public about the issue at hand and the desired solution.
- Most legislative districts in Colorado can be fully canvassed at least once over the course of a month, and many of them could be covered multiple times. By having a team of well-trained and highly-educated canvassers speaking with people at their doors on behalf of the client, we are able to help people connect to the issue or specific piece of legislation you are working to pass or defeat and provide them with the knowledge and opportunity to make their political voices heard.
- BDO recommends this type of project for any issue where both public opinion and policymakers are able to be persuaded with moderate effort. This type of project can generate a strong amount of pressure on legislators through tactics such as hand-written letters or personal phone calls from constituents to the legislators from a large number of people in the district.
Session-long or year-round campaigns
- Certain policy proposals are so important that they demand policymakers from multiple districts hear from their constituents. The right message and effective canvassing can not only persuade a lawmaker to vote a certain way but can even convert that lawmaker into an advocate who then lobbies for the policy to their colleagues. This level of success can only be achieved through sustained face-to-face conversations with voters who can then be recruited to spread the message to their families, friends, and neighbors.
- This approach provides the client with a core base of support that they can leverage to identify issue leaders and advocates. It also allows the client to develop a volunteer organization that could represent fellow voters at the capital. BDO canvassers provide the information needed to identify those potential volunteers or leaders. By canvassing a set of districts multiple times over the course of a year BDO can have an ongoing conversation with voters to keep them updated on your issues and provide the public with the education and persuasion that it takes to motivate voters to contact their elected officials.
Media attention and coalition building (Grasstops Organizing)
In addition to overseeing the teams of canvassers that will be delivering your message to individual voters, BDO’s management team has years of experience running media campaigns and coordinating broad coalitions of community groups in order to focus as much attention and pressure as possible on issues important to our clients.
For example, our canvassers can ask people at the door to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper in order to show local public support for your issue. Our organizers can also work with leaders in the community to garner op-ed pieces in local papers.
By combining our expertise running paid canvass operations with our knowledge and experience of campaign coordination, BDO provides our clients with comprehensive outreach solutions to help shape the conversation about issues our clients care about.