Political House Party Dos and Don'ts for Voter Contact
Everyone loves a good party, however, when it comes to a political house party you want to make sure it is serving the purpose of your campaign. Specifically, you want your political house party as a tactic for voter contact, especially around primaries and special elections. It is a good way to get a candidate to engage in their community quickly, in-person, and authentically. Some may say this is an old-school technique, but we have added in some new-school tactics, like SMS, to make it relevant in today’s political toolbox. Here is a list of what to do and what not to do to make the most of your next political house party:
Set a goal: Like every part of your campaign there should always be a clear and achievable goal that your full team understands before proceeding. For a political house party, it may be for community engagement, fundraising, or recruiting volunteers, but, no matter what it is, make sure it is clearly defined. For example, for a fundraising event, define a specific fundraising goal you are trying to hit through pre-event communication, an in-person ask and thorough follow up.
Have a schedule: A political house party takes time to plan, so make sure to lay out a schedule to set your campaign up for success. Create a calendar of how and when voter contact is happening around each house party. Have a plan for: when will the initial invitation calls happen? When will invitation canvassing take place? When will text invites be sent? etc.
Use parties for voter contact: If your campaign will be hosting multiple house parties throughout the course of the campaign, consider using the invitation process as a way of doing voter persuasion. You can do this by including messaging in your invitations about why your candidate deserves their support. When your team is making invitation calls consider something like, “Hi, I’m Ben with Jenna Smith’s campaign. We wanted to invite you to our house party on [insert details]. Jenna is the right candidate for [insert office] because [insert persuasion script]. Also, at the actual event, the candidate should be prepared to deliver a motivating stump speech to move the attendees to action.
Layer your communication: Like all voter contact, your target audience will need multiple touches to increase their likelihood of attending. When creating your invitation plan for a political house party, layer the ways you’re communicating to ensure people are receiving the information in their preferred means of communication. Consider:
- Making invitation phone calls to voters in advance
- Sending out an invitation postcard or a letter
- Including an invitation ask in your canvasing of the neighborhood
- Using SMS tools to send individual text invitation
- Promoting your house party across your social media channels
Delegate responsibilities: Allow a volunteer to take lead of the house party and have a plan for the voter contact around the house party (ideally, they would be 2 different people working together). This way your note using precious campaign staff time for events.
Collect assets: Whenever you have supporters at an event, your campaign should be intentional about collecting as many useful assets as possible. Make sure you have someone in charge of gathering all the contact information for anyone attending a house party. Also, take high quality photos at your house party that can be used for your campaign materials, on social media, or to promote future events.
Here’s what not to do:
Overspend: You want to be as frugal as possible when planning a political house party. Attendees know why they are coming to the event, and donors do not want to see their donations going to a fancy party when they could be used to contact voters. Keep it simple with water, coffee, a cheese platter, and/or cut and bake chocolate chip cookies are always a delicious addition!
Stress out: The goal is to use the party as a way to let voters know you are working in the community and being thoughtful about addressing their needs. As long as you’ve used your communication about the party to convey that message, then don’t stress too much about about the number of people who show up at your house party.
Only think about money: Even if the goal of an event is to raise money and get volunteers, understand your event should also largely be thought of as means for voter contact (e.g. ways to engage, persuade, and motivate your community to action).
Lastly, once you have hosted your political house party, don’t forget to follow up with the attendees, send photos, and post on social media. You could even send ads to a custom Facebook audience asking them to invite others to your next party, if you have the budget to do so. Have questions about political house parties? Feel free to reach out to us! And don’t forget to check out other tips on running a great campaign.