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Using your own data in Reach

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We offer a “bring your own data” model where we will upload whatever data you provide us. That data will not be shared with other campaigns. It is up to you to make sure it is accurate and current and complete. We are happy to offer free data processing and upload at the launch of your campaign, and every two months after that. Any data updates before two months have elapsed since your last update will be billed at a rate equal to 1/3 of your monthly subscription fee.

Who Do You Want to Reach?

Think far and wide to Reach your goals! When thinking about which data set to chose, you want to capture the largest audience. If you’re an electoral campaign, this will probably be a voter file containing every registered voter in your district. If you’re a labor union, this might be a complete list of all your members or maybe a list of all the workers on a factory floor who you want to organize.

A note for electoral campaigns

The voters you load are your call, but we strongly recommend not limiting your data set based on targeting criteria like recent or frequent voters or party affiliation or really any sub-universe. One of the main purposes of Reach is to let you canvass every single voter you meet, no matter who they are or where you find them. This often includes voters who would otherwise be excluded from traditional targeted lists.

The best interactions with Reach are ones where your volunteers look up a person they’ve met and find them in the voter file. If a volunteer looks up someone they’ve met and cannot find them, you want them to know with confidence that the reason they aren’t in Reach is because they aren’t registered to vote. If you only load in a sub-set of voters to Reach, then you won’t know why you can’t find someone and won’t be able to capture data from that interaction in a way that relates it back to the voter file. You also won’t know what to tell the person you’re canvassing.

We designed Reach to help you break free of targeting assumptions and canvass everyone, and if you load data with targeting assumptions baked-in, you will miss out on a big part of the advantage that Reach provides.

What should be in the file?

Once you decide your audience, provide us with a CSV or TXT file of the those folks you would like to Reach. At the bare minimum, this file must include name information, location information (like street address, city, zip, and state), and at least one Unique ID (like a state voter ID, a VANID, or a member ID).

In order to optimize your Reach experience, include any other fields that might be useful in your canvassing interactions. This might include party affiliation, registration status, age, gender, last voted year, or anything else available. Include whatever you believe is the most useful information to Reach your goals, and we will load it up. This additional information will be displayed on the “Person Profile” screen that your users will see in Reach. Generally, we do not need things like scores or predictive calculated fields, as you won’t be using Reach for targeting or list-building.

These are the fields we’d recommend you include in the voter file you upload to Reach:

Note: If you are exporting data from VAN, the first step is to Create a List before exporting. Be sure to remove ALL suppressions from your list except for “Exclude Deceased”. Do not suppress data based on Registration Status, Good Voting Address, Good Mailing Address, etc.

External IDs

  • CRM ID (VANID, PDI ID, NationBuilder Signup ID, DWID, etc)
  • State ID
  • Any other UIDs (county, etc)

Name

  • Name Prefix
  • First Name
  • Middle Name
  • Last Name
  • Name Suffix

Address

Broken into as many separate fields as possible. If you’re exporting from VAN make sure to select “Voting Address (Separate Fields)” as opposed to “Voting Address (Single Field)“.

  • House Number
  • Fractional House Number
  • Pre Street Name Direction
  • Street Name
  • Street Type
  • Post Street Name Direction
  • Unit Type
  • Unit Number
  • City
  • State
  • Zip Code

Other Core Fields

  • Birth Date (with 4-digit years)
  • Gender

Voter Info

  • Political Party
  • Registration Status
  • Registration Date
  • Last Voted Date
  • Polling Location Name
  • Polling Location Address

Districts

  • County Name
  • Congressional District
  • State Senate District
  • State House District
  • County Council District
  • City Council District
  • Precinct
  • Ward
  • Any other districts

What about when new people register to vote?

We are happy to update your voter file any time you provide a new updated version. Subsequent updates and new versions of your data must include the same Unique ID that your original file included. For best and fastest results, the whole layout and should match from previous uploads. We will provide one free update every two months over the course of your subscription. More frequent updates can be done upon request and will be billed at a rate of 1/3 of a month’s subscription fee.

Where should you get the data?

We will take data from any source that can generate a CSV or tab-separated text file.

For electoral campaigns looking for voter data, many of our campaigns get their data directly from their state or county’s Board of Elections or Secretary of State office. In some states, this data is posted online for easy download. In other states, it is available to campaigns for low or no cost upon request. In other states still, it may be prohibitively expensive or complicated to obtain directly from the state.

If you have access to voter file data from an existing database or CRM like VAN or PDI and you have the ability to export that data freely, that works too. Keep in mind that in the case of VAN, this data is typically managed by your state Democratic party so your ability to export flat CSVs of the data will be controlled by the party’s data policies and procedures. We will always defer to the state party’s requirements for allowing these exports and we aim to strike a balance where they will feel comfortable approving the export as long as the number of requested fields is limited to only those relevant to Reach (see above). If someone from your state party has questions or concerns about Reach, they can contact us directly via [email protected].

If none of these options are available to you, we have relationships with well-established data vendors like Catalist, TargetSmart, and L2 who will sell you voter data with a steep discount if you’re going to be using it exclusively in Reach. For more information about this and pricing estimates, get in touch with us.

How to get your data to us

Email us and we’ll provide a secure link for uploading your data.

Please provide data in as raw a form as possible. If you’re using public data, send us exactly the file that the state sent you. If you’re exporting from VAN, send us the exact text file you exported. Do not open your file in Excel and manipulate the data and re-save as this almost always causes problems with Excel messing with the data formatting.

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