13 June, 2019

A Free Peer-To-Peer Canvassing App. How To Use Existing Apps For Fast, Frugal Innovation.

Personal connections make a big difference. Especially in peer-to-peer canvassing where volunteers encourage their friends to register to vote. How can volunteers be equipped to easily collect details for a campaign from their friends? A little research and creativity led to the development of a mobile app using free existing software services. How can this fast, low-cost approach to innovation be applied to other campaign needs? Hint: No new software has to be developed. The trade-off is similar to deciding whether to get a custom-fitted suit or choosing one that is ready-made. There is a lot more time, expense and effort involved with a custom made suit. A ready-made one is usually good and at a fraction of the price. Background Peer-to-peer (P2P) canvassing relies on volunteers to use their social connections to encourage their friends to vote. Research indicates that "voting can be contagious; the more people in your network who vote, the more likely you are to vote". People are reluctant to share all their contacts or online address books with a campaign. Instead they prefer to selectively contact their friends and upload only data those who are interested. Solution design considerations
  • The solution has to be usable on a phone without first having to install an app.
  • Data collection has to be fast and simple.
  • Volunteers should have access to the data that they have uploaded.
  • Ability to consolidate data from multiple volunteers into a single file.
  • Ability to change the data being collected.
  • Ease of setting up the system quickly and training new volunteers.
  • A free or affordable solution so even grassroots groups can use it.
With these considerations, the DemLabs team decides to use Google Sheets which provides a free, personal online platform to organize and store data. We chose GlideApps to build a mobile app because its free and easy to use. (Credit to Social Movement Technologies for bringing GlideApps to our attention). Try the app here. Add a new contact or search for one already on file. You can do this from a phone or laptop without installing an app.

Try the app by clicking on this link on your phone.

  Frugal Innovation It pays to first consider existing, affordable solutions before embarking on a new software development project. It's cheaper, faster and involves less risk. Major software vendors innovate continuously, regardless of the election cycle which ensures that campaigns always have the latest technology. Their apps are designed for ease-of-use which saves consulting fees.The money saved with free software can be used on other more pressing campaign expenses. This leads to cheaper and smarter campaigns. DemLabs approach to innovation for progressive groups is simple. Identify needs, find and test existing solutions and then freely share what we learned so other groups can use it on their own as well. Google Sheets and GlideApps are both free and can be used without programming skills. Innovation isn't just about throwing money at a problem. It is about finding the most cost-effective solution to a problem that involves the least amount of time and risk. Takeaways Innovation is an equalizer between upstart campaigns and well-funded campaigns. Let us know of other good, affordable campaign apps. We'll be glad to test them in a project and freely share our findings so other progressive/democratic groups can use them too. It really does take a village! Deepak 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. Subscribe to DemLabs Bulletin
case study image
14 May’ 2024

NOT ON OUR WATCH: People powered news

‘A Lie Is Halfway Round the World Before the Truth Has Got Its Boots On’ How do you get the facts when much of the media...

case study image
7 May’ 2024

Reach more people with Gamification: Could you be a HANDMAID ENFORCER?

Don't just preach to the choir. Use gamification to reach and engage more people. How do you get your message to people who aren't necessarily interested...

case study image
23 Apr’ 2024

Canvass better: Help people get their unclaimed benefits

Don't show up at someone's door empty handed... that goes for canvassers too! Take something that the person you're meeting will appreciate - like finding out...

case study image
9 Apr’ 2024

How to tell your friends about the horrors of Project 2025

It's crucial to talk to everyone we know about Project 2025. They may roll their eyes and say, “That can’t happen in America.” But so much...

case study image
4 Apr’ 2024

Are you taking all the benefits you’re entitled to?

103 million Americans leave $80 billion in benefits unclaimed every year. These are benefits that your tax dollars pay for! Things like affordable healthcare. Help with...

case study image
1 Apr’ 2024

No Border Wall Coalition organizes grassroots resistance with English y Español bots

The No Border Wall Laredo Coalition organizes local residents, landowners, faith leaders, veterans and families to stop the border wall. The Border Wall project calls for...