How to Phone Bank // Activism 101


Hello! This is the first of what might be
a series about how to get involved with grassroots activism so that you have
actual concrete actions to take when you feel like things are garbage. In this
video we’re gonna talk about phone banking. [ding] So what is phone banking? Looking
this up gets you a lot of results about managing your money over the phone, but
in an activist context, phone banking is campaigning by reaching out to voters by
phone. This is most commonly used to increase voter turnout when running for
office, but it can also be used to activate a support network around a
specific issue. [ding] Phone banking is done by obtaining
a list of voters and their phone numbers. In the United States, all 50 states are required
to have an electronic central voter file. However, the content and availability of this
file varies greatly state by state. The U.S. Elections Project has created a
website where you can find specific information about how to obtain a list
of voters in your state. Note that some states charge a fee for accessing the
list, which can range from a couple dollars to a couple thousand dollars, so
you may need to partner with an organization. Also in no state are you
allowed to use voter information for commercial purposes. Please do not use
this information for commercial purposes. So let’s say you live in the state where
voter information is available to you and you have a cause that you’re
passionate about. You may want to throw a phone-banking party. A phone-banking
party is exactly what it sounds like. The first thing you’ll need before throwing
a party is a concrete action that you want voters to take. You need to have an
ask. Will you go to the polls tomorrow and vote YES on this issue? Will you call
the CEO of this company and pressure them to take this action? Once you have
your action you need to write a script for your callers to follow. This should
be brief and to the point but could also have an emotional appeal. Your caller
should introduce themselves to make the call more personal. Expect that your
callers may deviate from the list slightly so that the words sound more
natural and comfortable to them. Once you have your action and your script,
it’s time to invite your friends to the party. Set a date, time, and location, and make a
Facebook event just like you would a birthday party. On the day of the event,
when your guests arrive, set aside some time to provide some basic instructions.
Introduce the cause, hand out scripts and voter lists, and give your guests some
pointers like, don’t get into arguments on the phone. Instead politely hang up.
You might also want to provide food and refreshments to lighten the atmosphere.
After introductions are done, you’re all set to call some voters.
– Hi, my name is Taylor and I’m a volunteer with URGE, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity.
I’m calling about Toledo’s last remaining abortion clinic. – They hang up?
– [whispering] Yeah. [pleasant music] – Taylor. What just happened? – Um, this woman, she said, “You wanna
save the abortion clinics?” And I said, “Yeah.” She said, “Well, why would you want to
do that?” and I explained, you know, so that everyone has access to all care that
they need, and she said, “That’s a sin. A terrible sin.” – How often in your experience do people hang up?
– If they even answer in the first place, I’d probably say like, twenty to twenty-five percent of
the time, as soon as you say the word abortion… click. – What advice would you have for people who are
trying this for the first time? – Don’t get discouraged.
You will probably make like, 20… 30… 40 calls before you even finally
talk to somebody, but when you actually have that conversation it can be so
empowering and impactful and moving to be able to like, talk to somebody that
also cares about the issue and allow them– or like, help them get involved, you
know, in a way that they maybe didn’t previously know they could get involved.
So, it’s really awesome to get to share that excitement with folks.
– You’re so lovely. – Aw, stop it. [quiet laughter]
– So we’re in the basement and I’m gonna do my first phone banking call.
[soft “whoo”s from friends] I’m like scared of talking on the phone.
What’d you say? – I said it’s like 8 p.m.
– It is. It’s like 8 p.m. Hi, may I speak with Amy? Hi, my name is
Morgan, and I’m a volunteer in Northwest Ohio. I’m just calling because the last
abortion clinic in Toledo, Capital Care, will be forced to close if Promedica
or St. Luke’s Hospital doesn’t sign a transfer agreement with the
clinic. Just this morning, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against the clinic, so now is the time for Promedica or St. Luke’s to act and protect access to abortion in our community. I’m just wondering if you would be able to take a
few moments tomorrow morning maybe, to call Promedica and St. Luke’s to urge
them to sign a transfer agreement? All right, thank you, do you have something
to write down phone numbers with? Okay, so, the Promedica CEO, Randy Oostra,
his phone number is 567-585-3984. And the St. Luke’s CEO, Dan Wakeman, is 419-893-5902. nine eight nine three five nine zero two
okay and please tell them that capital Okay, and please tell them that Capital Care needs the transfer agreement to stay open, and as a resident of Northwest Ohio, you feel that it is critical that the clinic not be forced to close, and that the transfer agreement doesn’t
require them to do anything different than they already do; it just ensures
that the healthcare resource stays open in our community. Does that make sense? Thank you so much. Bye-bye. Aaaaaaaaa!
– Whooooooooo! You did so good! – That was a good call.
[high fiving] – Great job! I’ll provide some more resources in the video description, since this is a very broad overview and you’ll probably want to do some more research before
starting. If you’re an introvert like me and you don’t want to organize a phone banking
party all by yourself, you can partner with a local organization. Phone banking
is the less glamorous side of activism, and so volunteers are frequently needed
to do this. I have very severe anxiety and even I managed to make one phone call.
And if calling voters isn’t your cup of tea, consider calling your representatives
instead. I actually made a video about this last year, which I
will also link to in the description and in the card up in the corner. So that’s
it for today’s Activism 101. If you’d like to support this series and my other
endeavors, you can fund me on Patreon, which I will link at the end of this
video and also in the description. And also consider hitting that notification
bell next to the subscribe button, so you get actual notifications when I post.
See you soon!

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