Stop Grassroots Volunteers From Bailing
Running a grassroots campaign is hard. There are always going to be grassroots volunteers who sign up for shifts and do not show up. That’s why when organizing an event, you can generally assume a 50% flake rate (percentage of grassroots volunteers who do not show up for their shift). More often than not, however, with the right coaxing, you can get a volunteer, who would have otherwise failed, to turn out for their shift. Below are a few suggestions to help you to mitigate your flake rate.
Confirm, Confirm, Confirm: You can assume that if you don’t remind a volunteer about their shift, they won’t show up. You need to contact them and let them know you have materials waiting for them and are counting on them. Therefore, every day you should look at who is scheduled 4-5 days out and give them a heads-up reminder call. Then, the day before their shift, give them a second reminder call. If at any point you cannot reach them via phone, leave a message. It’s likely you’ll be calling on an unfamiliar campaign phone number, so after you leave a message, call back a second time but do not leave a second message
Email: As soon as you schedule a volunteer for a shift, send them an email with the time and day to put on their calendar. Similarly, after a volunteer completes a shift, you should send him or her a follow-up, thank you email.
Problem Solve: Call your grassroots volunteers 20 minutes after they are late for a shift and find out what happened. Then, depending on the situation, try to problem solve. Have a volunteer who can’t get a ride to the event? Offer to go pick them up. They can’t get off work? Tell them to come after work and help assemble canvass packets. They have to watch the kids? Kids love to phone bank, tell them to bring the kids along.
Routine: If your grassroots volunteers come in a couple times in a week, try to subtly suggest to them that this should be their routine. For instance, if a volunteer has come to events every other day during a given week, say: “Well, I guess I’ll see you around the same time on Monday.”
Guilt: When grassroots volunteers commit a no call, no show, apply a bit of guilt the next time you see them. Let them know that their absence was noticed. A subtle: “Hey Jerry, we missed ya last week” can often go a long way. It can help reduce a volunteer’s future flake rate and they may even offer to schedule a make-up shift.