Since President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election, the use of digital technology for political campaigning has grown exponentially.
Every year, we see new political campaign software that helps Democratic and progressive campaigns win, from local to presidential races. However, the broad expanse of options can leave campaign organizers — even seasoned ones — unsure of which tools they need to succeed.
Here’s an overview of what political campaign software is and our top picks of options to help you win:
What is political campaign software?
Simply put, political campaign software is any tech or digital tool built to help political organizations operate and execute campaign activities. This specialized subset of tech includes solutions that help campaigns get out the vote, ID voters, easily share campaign messaging, manage volunteers, increase support for their candidate, and fundraise.
It’s not necessary to specifically use political campaign software to win an election, but the advantages of their careful design can make campaigns easier to run — and perhaps result in increased odds of success. With the outlined tools below, you’ll see that each has a specific use that can help your campaign achieve campaign objectives.
6 Political Campaign Software Tools For Your Campaign
Reach is a political campaign software tool that enables your campaign to run relational organizing programs at scale. Relational organizing, the tactic of engaging those you know to take action, is a simple concept at the core — talk to your friends, family, and community members about what you’re passionate about and encourage them to make an impact with you.
As simple as it is, it can be a powerful tactic for political campaigns when managed successfully. Political campaigns can mobilize enthusiastic supporters to drive voter support through existing authentic connections, deepening the level of engagement that your campaign can have. A few conversations with trusted friends can turn out multiple voters!
Reach offers the following key features:
- Team Engagement: Volunteers and supporters can stay connected and engaged with the campaign and their comrades using Reach’s live multi-channel chat rooms (similar to Slack), a home screen full of customizable action cards, integration with your Mobilize events, gamification, push notifications, user groups, and more.
- Contact importing and syncing: When supporters download Reach, they can import contacts from their phones and match them to your organization’s voter data. Once synced, supporters will see their matched friends and family on their “My Network” screen. By sending campaign-approved scripted messages, they can jumpstart conversations with friends and family.
- Community canvassing: Your supporters can make an impact wherever they are with the Reach app. At any time, they can search for people in your campaign’s voter file and fill out survey responses to questions such as is this person interested in becoming a donor, sending real-time information back to your campaign.
- “Choose your own adventure”-style voter registration: This feature allows supporters to track the status of canvassed individuals and prompt voter registration. With repeated interactions, they can even turn these voters into relational organizing volunteers themselves and encourage them up the ladder of engagement.
- Content sharing: The whole world is your oyster when you leverage social media for your campaign. Content Sharing allows your campaign to upload and curate a library of social media content, which your supporters can then post to their online networks. Use this feature to fundraise, get out the vote, promote your campaign’s agenda, fight disinformation, share registration reminders, and more.
NGP VAN is a political technology platform that provides campaigns with a whole suite of tools for event management, contact management, phone banking, email marketing, fundraising, and much more.
Due to the range of features available, NGP VAN is a popular option for Democratic campaigns that want to run and scale their digital operations in one integrated ecosystem. This offers the advantage of a smoother onboarding experience for staff and trusted volunteers. Although NGP VAN offers many features, it is often used in conjunction with other tools in the space that offer distinct advantages
Of its many tools, here are some of the most useful solutions NPG VAN offers:
- Contact management: NGP VAN’s customer relationship management (CRM) system is a preferred option for many Democratic and progressive campaigns that need to keep supporter and voter information well organized across outreach actions. Most importantly, it seamlessly connects to its outreach tools, allowing canvassers to keep voter records updated with information from the field.
- Canvassing: NGP VAN’s MiniVan is one of the most widely-used canvassing apps used by political campaigns. (71% of door knocking attempts by Democratic and progressive campaigns in 2018 were through MiniVan!) Thanks to the mobile app, canvassers can ditch paper lists and streamline their canvassing efforts by tracking addresses within their assigned turfs and sending data to the campaign in just a few minutes.
- Fundraising management: NGP VAN provides effective tools to focus your efforts on gathering donations from your supporters. Within its contact management platform, NGP VAN has fundraising-specific features, including contribution source tracking, Donor Target Scores to predict a contact’s likelihood of donating, and custom fields for further organization.
Interested in NGP VAN? Learn more here. If you’re running for office as a Democrat, you will likely be able to gain access to NGP VAN via your State Democratic Party.
If you’ve ever been involved with or volunteered for a campaign, you’ve probably heard of Mobilize, the leading event management tool for Democratic and progressive campaigns. This political campaign software allows campaigns and organizations to easily organize in-person or online volunteer trainings, phone or text banking sessions, webinars, town halls, or other mobilization events.
Plus, Mobilize integrates with other platforms in the political space, like ActBlue and NPG VAN, which creates an interconnected experience for those using these commonly used political tools.
These are the product offerings that make Mobilize well-loved:
- Pre/post event email and texts: Mobilize sends automated emails and texts to remind registrants to attend upcoming events, driving down no-shows. Keeping an accurate record of your registrants and attendees can help inform decisions for your event, like the number of trainers needed for Zoom breakout rooms. Mobilize also recruits registrants on your behalf: post-event emails encourage supporters to join other upcoming campaign events.
- Volunteer empowerment: Running a successful political campaign means building and empowering a strong network of volunteer leaders. Mobilize allows you to recruit volunteers to host events on your behalf, which can be a powerful way to encourage community and grassroots organizing!
- Event promotion within the Mobilize network: Adding an event on Mobilize means you can increase the reach of your campaign, too. Mobilize features all public events on their website, which means supporters from other campaigns can find your campaign’s events when seeking more ways to make an impact.
ActBlue is a political fundraising platform exclusively for Democratic and progressive campaigns. Because it promotes small-dollar donations (contributions totaling $200 or less from an individual), ActBlue is used by various political and nonprofit organizations — from local community charities to presidential campaigns.
Small-dollar donations have boomed in recent years, as evidenced by the sheer amount of individual contributions in the 2020 presidential election. As more people donate to the causes they believe in, ActBlue will be a must-have tool for campaigns wanting to drive collective impact.
ActBlue makes campaign contributions easy with these tools:
- ActBlue Express Lane: ActBlue Express Lane connects your campaign with millions of ActBlue Express users who have saved their contact and credit card information to their profile; this means they can donate to your campaign with just one tap or click of their desired donation amount. Decreasing the steps needed to complete a donation can increase your conversion rate exponentially!
- Customizable forms: ActBlue allows you to make your donation forms your own by offering customization features, like settings for different donation amounts. You can even set up your form with campaign photos and brand colors so donors can recognize your campaign instantly.
- In-platform A/B testing: Conversion optimization for your donation page is always a good bet. Changes like messaging variations can have you drawing in more donations. With ActBlue’s A/B testing feature, you can find which iteration of your donation form drives the most contributions.
Action Network is a political campaign software solution that offers email marketing, broadcast text messaging, petition forms, and more. Altogether, these tools can help advocacy organizations, nonprofits, and political campaigns encourage supporters to take action and stay involved with the campaign.
Action Network offers these unique features:
- Low cost email and text message broadcasting: Your campaign should be able to send information to supporters at a moment’s notice. Action Network offers both email and text messaging to share updates, fundraise, or mobilize supporters. You can even personalize your message by adding supporters’ names and custom donation asks to make your outreach more appealing. Since plans start as low as $10 per month (including 1,000 email sends), small and local campaigns may find Action Network to be their outreach platform of choice.
- Automated supporter journeys: Acquiring new supporters and continuing to engage these supporters are fundamental to your campaign strategy. Building automated supporter journeys via Action Network allows you to set up triggers that send messages after a completed action, or nudge supporters based in a target area. With this continued engagement, you can encourage your supporters at every possible opportunity.
- Letter campaigns: Time is of the essence when demanding action. With Action Network, you can create a letter campaign prompting supporters to message their respective elected officials about a key issue. Action Network will match petition signers to their appropriate office; signers can then send templated messages to those officials, urging them to take action.
Scale to Win
Scale to Win is a political campaign software tool that allows Democratic campaigns to reach out to voters and supporters through text messages and phone calls. These outreach methods help you reach dozens of voters directly in a few hours, providing a direct line of communication between your campaign and those you want to reach. Because a platform like Scale to Win can be accessed by volunteers wherever they are, you can easily set up texting or phone banks to coordinate voter outreach and persuasion tactics.
Here’s a breakdown of Scale to Win’s main offerings:
- Peer-to-Peer Texting: Simply upload the universe of voters you want to reach and create a campaign with text message templates for initial contact and follow-up replies. After starting your campaign, your volunteers can send templated text messages to voters on the Scale to Win app. The key to peer-to-peer texting is individual people sending each text, which allows your campaign staff or volunteers to converse with voters in a one-on-one context.
- We Text: Want to run a texting campaign but lack capacity? Leverage the We Text program and rely on the Scale to Win team to build and manage your texting campaigns, all while receiving campaign data to garner insights. This program is a prime option for teams working on high-scale, high-impact political campaigns.
- Scale to Win Dialer. Phone banking is a tried-and-true voter and supporter outreach method. Scale to Win’s dialer syncs directly to NGP VAN, which allows you to create scripts from existing NGP VAN call campaigns and easily update contact attempts and outcomes after phone banking sessions. Like Scale to Win’s texting tool, the dialer creates a user-friendly experience for setting up phone banking campaigns. Upload your target voter list, craft a call script for your campaign, and start the campaign for your team members to call voters.
Interested in Scale to Win? Learn more here.
Where do I start?
You can determine the tools your campaign needs by considering the resources you already have and need. If you have a strong supporter base but no path for mobilization, a relational organizing app like Reach might be the right tool to leverage. If campaign funds are low, partnering with ActBlue may be a priority.
Of course, you’re likely to use more than one political campaign software tool to fully equip yourself with the digital infrastructure you need to win. We hope this list provides a better direction for your digital organizing needs, and reach out if you’d like to partner with Reach!