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National Canvass, June 9th

Resource Center

What does it mean to participate in a canvass?

Think of a canvass as a neighborhood walk. Canvasses happen when a group of people get together and go door to door to homes and apartments in a selected neighborhood to spread the message about Barack Obama.

Movements are created one person, one house at a time. One or two individuals can canvass an entire neighborhood and build real support for our campaign to change America.

Your goal in the canvass is to make personal connections with other people who might not know as much about Barack Obama. You are the face of the campaign in your community.

What does it mean to be a canvass leader on June 9th?

By being a canvass leader, you are agreeing to bring supporters in your community together to walk door to door, spread the message of our campaign, and create dialog with your neighbors. Canvass leaders will plan an event for Saturday, June 9, and coordinate the day’s activities.

You must create your event by May 30th in order to receive support materials through the US Postal Service from the campaign.

Steps for Creating a Successful Canvass

1. Create an event online. You’ll need to have already thought about what size of event you would like to host. Feel free to think big, like getting dozens of people together to fan out into a neighborhood, or small, like having a few close friends who are also supporters get together for a walk nearby.

Once you know how large or small you want your event to be, determine what will be your “staging ground” or central location where people will gather before and after the canvass. This can be your home, park, school, or any other location. You will want to set the meeting time on June 9 in the morning, around 9:30 a.m.

2. Get help from others. If you’re planning a larger canvas, you may want to create an organizational committee with fellow interested activists. Here are some suggestions for specific roles:

Turf coordinator Coordinates splitting up neighborhoods and makes maps for door knockers.
Food coordinator. Organizes pot luck for post-canvass; solicits and organizes food distribution.
Site and Materials coordinator. Find and secure staging ground, such as a place to meet before and after the canvass. You may need to consider parking needs, restrooms, etc. Also responsible for receiving, distributing and re-collecting literature and canvass materials.
Recruitment coordinator. Responsible for reaching out to volunteers, confirming volunteer canvass sign-ups, and managing volunteer registration on canvass day.
3. Have an organizational meeting prior to the canvass if you’re working with a team to organize it. The sooner you can do it, the better. For larger canvasses, we recommend that you have at least one organizational meeting at least two weeks prior to the canvass to delegate various tasks. You can follow up on progress via email or phone in the days following the meeting. Be sure to sign up everyone at the organizational meeting with the provided sign-up sheet and send it to the campaign after the canvass.

4. Make maps. All volunteer canvassers should have a map of the “turf,” or part of the neighborhood, they will be walking that day. The goal should be to have every person knock on 50 doors. Be sure to print out or photocopy enough maps for everyone to have one and delegate out an appropriate amount of streets for each person. You can get maps of local neighborhoods online. Google Maps is an especially detailed, free resource. You can also get maps from your local Democratic party. They should have maps of neighborhoods organized by precinct.

5. Be sure to send reminder calls and emails to volunteer canvassers in the days leading up to the canvass. Turn out will increase dramatically if you ask them for a firm commitment.

6. In the days before your event, you will receive literature, envelopes, and other materials from the campaign to help you in executing your walk. You’ll also need to print out or make copies of the campaign-provided script for each of your attendees.

7. Watch the on-line training video on “How to Canvass” before the event with your entire canvass team prior to canvassing. We suggest watching it as a group the morning of June 9th. Also be sure to distribute the Canvassing Guidelines and discuss as a group before beginning your canvass. We also recommend you collectively go over the provided script and talking points.

8. Make sure all volunteer canvassers have a clear understanding of where they are walking in their communities and what their responsibilities are. Every canvass should have the following materials with them:
a. Map (up to you to find)
b. Script (provided by the campaign)
c. Literature (provided by the campaign)
d. Contribution envelopes (provided through the mail by the campaign)

9. Report all results from your canvass online. Alternatively, you can call in your information to the call center at 312-819-2008. Reporting your information is essential for us to know our success. Please be sure to mail back your supporter cards and any fundraising money from the canvass.

If you have questions about your event, you can call 312-819-2008 for more information.
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