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Post National Endorsement Planning

Congratulations! Your local group has just secured a national endorsement for an awesome candidate. But now what? While this is an incredibly important step, Indivisibles know that just simply saying your group endorses a candidate won’t get them over the finish line. What’s meaningful about an endorsement is the commitment of real work behind it. And together, we will deliver.

As you know, every National Indivisible endorsement also comes with a $1,000 check made out to the campaign, candidate bio added to our website, customized graphics, Indivisible swag (rally signs, hats, buttons, etc), a press release announcing all candidates endorsed that round. See more in our endorsement guide.

This resource is chock-full of ideas to pull together a plan for your group after a national endorsement (or after a local endorsement! The sky is the limit!). Work with your Indivisible Organizer to develop these ideas into a comprehensive, winning plan that works for your group and your district.

Building Your Path to Victory 

Every district or state is unique and groups will be ready to endorse with different amounts of time before the primary. If you endorse with three months or more before the election, you can be really intentional about planning and go through all these steps. If you endorse with less than a month until the election, you can do some really quick planning, but your group should jump straight into voter contact and getting out the vote. 

Make a plan with your group and other local groups.

While you’re waiting for the endorsement vote, start working on your plan. If this is for a district with multiple groups or for a statewide race, your work will be even more powerful if you make a plan together. 

  • Have a kick-off or strategy session. Bring together your group members and folks from other groups to have fun and do some planning. You can check out our 2020 Vision Meeting materials for some ideas of how to set this up. 

  • Plan out your tactics. Whether at a strategy session, on a conference call or over email, work on the tactics that you’re going to employ and your timeline to make sure your endorsed candidate wins in the primary and the general election. See the below sections for our favorite tactics. 

  • Ask folks to commit. It’s important to make sure that you’ll have the energy behind your endorsement, so start early on getting folks to commit to volunteer for your candidate. You should also take this time to figure out who can lead on certain activities -- like identifying a canvassing lead, press liaison and more (if you don’t already have those roles assigned in your group or coalition). Make sure when you’re asking folks to commit that way you’re collecting the best way to contact them so you can follow up effectively. You can even consider identifying a recruitment captain who can follow up and do confirmations before big events. 

Time to build momentum.

After several years of organizing, Indivisible groups have a lot of power. That means it’s exciting for candidates to get your endorsement, so make the most of the rollout of your endorsement and make a big splash. You can do all of these tactics to kick off the endorsement or pick which ones work best for your group. 

  • Send out a press release. We’ll be sending out a press release about all our endorsements that round, but your group or collection of groups can certainly send out a more personalized one about why you support the candidate. Check out this great example from groups in NY-24. 

  • Throw a kick-off party. Pulling together a big party to announce your endorsement is a great way to bring in new members and potential gain some media attention. 

  • Show off your swag. Once you get a national endorsement, you’ll have the opportunity to order customized swag (like this!). Not only is it great just to get free stuff, it also serves as an easy and effective form of advertisement for Indivisible and your group. When candidates, journalists or other people looking to get involved in organizing see people at rallies with Indivisible shirts or see pictures of people canvassing with Indivisible pins and hats, they know there is true people power in your groups and will be more eager to work with you. It could also be a fun raffle item or give away for your members who knock the most doors or make the most calls. 

Start talking to voters.

Neighbors talking to neighbors is still the best organizing tool we have. Indivisibles are pros at this point at knocking doors and making phone calls, but it’s still worth making sure your group knows how important it is! If you’re getting started several months before the election, your voter contact will likely be focused on identifying supporters and having persuasive conversations with folks who are undecided. This is a great opportunity to share your group and personal reasons for being behind this candidate -- and could be an opportunity to connect with like minded individuals who may want to join your group. 

  • Connect with the campaign or get set up with Indivisible tools. There are two options for how you can start talking to voters -- one is to work directly with the campaign and the other is to run your own independent voter contact program through Indivisible. 

    • Campaign: Check in with the campaign to figure out how to get started with canvassing and phone banking. They’ll be able to let you know about upcoming events. Indivisible is on the Independent Expenditure side, so if you work directly with the campaign you’ll just have to be careful not to tell Indivisible staff non-public information. (Note: If your group is incorporated as a 501(c)(4) or otherwise wants to do work on the Independent Expenditure side, just doing regular volunteer work with a campaign likely won’t raise campaign finance issues. However, if your group wants to spend money in connection with that campaign volunteer activity, please check with a campaign finance attorney in advance). 

    • Indivisible: If working directly with the campaign doesn’t work for you group, Indivisible can help you get started running your own canvassing and phone banking program. Just connect with your Indivisible Organizer and they’ll get you set up (or go to if you’re not already in touch). Indivisible is on the Independent Expenditure side, which means we cannot coordinate strategy with campaigns or learn non-public information about the campaign. If you go this route, you’ll be held to those same restrictions.

  • Write a letter to the editor. You can also talk to folks in your community by sending letters to the editor to your local paper to share why you are so excited about your candidate. Check out our website here for some examples

Voter Contact Best Practices

Having conversations with voters is a crucial piece of making sure you’re getting your candidate elected. And the earlier your group can get started with these efforts the better because it generally takes several touches with a voter to make an impact. We always want to be upfront about what works and what doesn’t work as well. When it comes to voter contact, the most effective way to sway a voter is through canvassing -- so we encourage you to start there. For folks who are unable to canvass, phone banking and texting are a great option. Who you talk to is also very important, so make sure you’re sticking to who is on your list. That’s why doing something like visibility on a street corner isn’t as impactful since you’re not controlling who you are targeting and aren’t having an actual conversation. 

Get out the vote.

Everything leads up to turning out your candidates’ voters. If you end up endorsing just a few weeks before Election Day, your group should jump straight into this step to make sure your work is having the greatest impact. If you’ve been campaigning for this candidate for months already, your group members will already be canvassing and phone banking pros and ready to give it a final push. These conversations will differ from the identification and persuasion conversations. At this point, the focus will be talking to your candidate’s supporters and making sure they have a plan to get out to vote. Generally, at this point you’ll be targeting folks who are likely to support your candidate, but need that extra push to get to the polls. Work with your group members early to plan out when folks can volunteer so that they proactively plan out child care, leaving early from work, recruiting friends, etc.

  • Knock doors. Face to face conversations are so important and it’s crucial to get as many volunteers out on the doors as possible.

  • Make phone calls. Phone calls are a great supplement to knocking doors (or a good option for folks who are unable to canvass). Work with the campaign or reach out to Indivisible to get phone banking going to get out the vote.

  • Send texts. Indivisible will be doing texting for all nationally endorsed candidates and we’ll be looking to the Indivisibles in the district/state to help with. This is a great activity to do both alone at home or together as a group! 

Now that you have some ideas of ways to push your candidate forward, work with your group and Indivisible Organizer to develop your plan of action. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you come up with more creative ways to make an impact -- we’d love to amplify your work! 

PLEASE NOTE: How you engage in elections depends a lot on your group’s organizational status. This guide is intended for local groups that can engage in political activity, including: groups that are currently unincorporated and haven’t sought any formal entity status, groups that have formed 501(c)(4) organizations, groups participating in Indivisible’s Distributed Fundraising Program (which generally follows 501(c)(4) spending rules), and groups that have formed political organizations (i.e., 527 organizations or PACs). This guide is not intended for 501(c)(3) organizations as 501(c)(3)s organizations are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity, including endorsing candidates as a group, but individual group members can get involved in their volunteer capacity

Political spending can trigger campaign finance rules and reporting requirements, so if you have questions about specific political spending that your group would like to do, please consult with a campaign finance attorney who can help you plan for compliance.