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Necessity is the mother of invention. So is lack of funding.

Underfunded campaigns need new ways to compete against better funded opponents. Technology can level the playing field, but awareness and training for affordable apps is hard to come by. There is no money to be made in promoting free apps and training people on how to use them. Here is a small step in meeting this need.

Training for the underfunded
DemLabs is offering training on how to apply free, innovative apps in campaigns and for organizing. This hands-on workshop is being held at the National Education Association (NEA) in DC on June 7th. Highlights:

1. Relevant. Examples from other campaigns will show attendees how to use the apps in context.
2. Affordable. The apps being taught are free with millions of existing users.
3. Practical. It's hands-on, not academic. Attendees get to practice the apps in a mock campaign.
4. Concise. The course is designed for those with limited time, money and computer skills.
5. Accessible. The cost of the workshop ranges from free for students to $20 for non-profits.

Workshop details and registration link here.


1. How to collect and use video clips from supporters in your campaign
App: Microsoft FlipGrid
Case Study: How FairVote in Santa Fe, NM created a video campaign for a ballot choice measure.
Details: Innovations In Persuasive Storytelling

2. Create videos for social media campaigns and to add to your website
App: Adobe Spark
Case Study: How the Legal Aid Justice Center created a video campaign for better public housing in Richmond, VA using Spanish videos collected from residents.
Details: Is Your Campaign A Gas Guzzler

3. Create issue-specific campaign videos using a free library of professional video and sound clips
App: Lumen5
Case Study: How Morgan GoodmanAmy Laufer and Annette Hyde, three amazing candidates in Virginia created campaign videos on the need for more funding for education, better healtcare and the need for clean energy.
Details: Virginia Candidates Create Issue-Specific Campaign Videos

4. Engage and mobilize people with interactive digital stories
App: Esri StoryMaps
Case Study: How journalists trained by Ethnic Media Services are creating StoryMaps in different languages to engage and mobilize their followers to take part in the 2020 census.
Details: 2020 Census. Let's count everyone.

5. Make your point clear with an infographic
App: Infogram
Case Study: How Maplight research was converted into an engaging infographic to explain how sixty corporations in the Fortune 500 did not pay any tax in 2018 and how this could be fixed.
Details: How to create infographics for free.

Many software firms provide freemium versions of their apps to encourage people to try them. The freemium apps are limited in features to encourage users to upgrade to the full, paid version. The freemium versions however, are often enough to meet the needs of most campaigns.

Microsoft and Adobe invest millions every year in software innovation - regardless of the election cycle and they will be around long after many political startups and DemLabs. Let's apply their solutions to make sure that money determines who gets heard.

Take away
Many campaigns are unaware of how new tools can help them - without breaking the bank. Take a close at these five apps, even if you can't make the workshop. Did I mention they are free?

Co-Founder, DemLabs

Please share this article. Democracy Labs is a SF-based, hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation to support progressives. Donate here to support our work.

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.