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Obama Campaign Creating Organizing "Best Practices" Document for Democratic Party

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, December 4 2012

With its thousands of staff and volunteers, its breakthroughs in organizing, voter-registration, fundraising and get-out-the-vote techniques, Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012 as a whole was definitely something the world has not seen before.

The campaign is hoping to be able to capture the accumulated wisdom of all that work in a "best practices" document that it's putting together, Betsy Hoover, Obama for America's director of digital organizing, told techPresident.

A team of about 40 people are in the process of putting the document together, and will incorporate feedback from volunteers who filled out the surveys that the campaign sent out, from conference calls, and from debriefing sessions such as the one that was held at Rootscamp last week, Hoover said. The group hopes to finish working on the document in the next couple of weeks.

A roomful of about 60 former Obama campaign field organizers showed up for the debriefing and shared their feedback on the utility and efficacy of the campaign's digital organizing tools with with Hoover, OfA Digital Strategist Brad Schenk, and OfA's regional Digital Director Katy Rose Glickman.

When asked how many people used the campaign's Dashboard organizing system, only about a third of the room put up their hands. One person said that Dashboard "wasn't very welcoming." Another person said it wasn't "relevant" to their work canvassing in Florida.

A couple of other organizers said that a lot of her volunteers were elderly, and "aren't digital."

Still another organizer said: "I ignored it, because I'm not tech savvy, and neither were a lot of my volunteers, and I didn't know if it would be around next time."

For a sense of perspective, Hoover told the room that from her point of view, Dashboard was a vast improvement on 2008 because it integrated information from different aspects of the organizing experience. Previously much of the information gathered in the field was compiled in spreadsheets.

Other volunteers shared their tips on how they used social media to recruit more volunteers. One of them that stood out came from Pat McCollough, who worked as OfA's state director for Louisiana. She would take photographs of volunteers during campaign events, and send those files to those volunteers. Some of them had to ask their family members for help opening those files, which would start a conversation about the campaign events, and often led to those family members becoming interested and joining the campaign to help out.

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