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The Pledge Project Canvass Guide

“A budget is more than simply numbers on a page. It is a measure of how well we are living up to our obligations to ourselves and one another. It is a test for our commitment to making America what it was always meant to be -- a place where all things are possible for all people. ” - President Barack Obama

On March 21st thousands of people collected pledges from their neighbors to support President Obama's budget. Now it is time to keep the momentum going and continue to collect pledges through April 5th. After the pledges are collected they will be delivered to Congress to show the strong support for President Obama's budget in communities like yours throughout the nation.

Create a Pledge Project Canvass in your neighborhood between now and Sunday, April 5th, to knock-on-doors and ask your neighbors to take a pledge of support for President Obama's bold approach to renew America’s economy and invest in energy, health care, and education.

This guide will provide you with all the tools and resources you need to hold a successful Pledge Project Canvass.

It is up to each one of us to take the fate of our country into our hands. Use this guide to start planning your next Pledge Project Canvass today.

What You Will Need

Here’s a short list of some things to consider when preparing for your canvass to ensure it is a success:

• A central location in your walk area for people to meet before and after their walk
• A list of high-traffic locations to target
• Sign-in sheets - Download
• Hard surfaces for writing (clipboards, cardboard, or folders)
• Maps of the larger area, the neighborhood and the specific streets each door-to-door canvasser is walking
• Pledge Project pledges - Download
• Scripts - Download
• Information and resources on the issues - Energy flyer, Health Care flyer, and Education flyer
• Pen/Paper
• Tally Sheets to record results at the end of the walk - Download
Training video
• Congressional District fliers - Enter your address in the Congressional call tool and click "print fliers"
• Volunteers to help train new canvassers, explain materials, answer questions after the video, etc.
• Copy of host training materials - Download
• Camera

Where to Canvass

The goal of the Pledge Project Canvass is to obtain as many signatures as possible. Therefore, it is best to target areas that are dense with people and allow canvassers to easily talk to them all. Your group can canvass at public locations and by going door-to-door in neighborhoods.

Public locations should be areas where people pass by regularly. Good canvass spots include grocery stores, sporting events, public transport stops, libraries, parks, college campuses, etc. It’s important to have several back up places in case the location is unsuccessful.

Door-to-door canvassing should focus on dense neighborhoods that are easily walkable. Since we are hitting all doors, you’ll want to choose neighborhoods where the houses are relatively close together and you can hit as many doors as possible.

Planning for Your Canvass

Step 1: Select a Staging Location
Determine where your “staging location” will be. That is where people will gather before and after the canvass. Your staging location can be a private home, park, school, or any other location that will accommodate your group and allow for a brief training.

Step 2: Register your Event
Take a moment to register your event online. Registering your event online means you’ll get your own page for your event, be able to send an invite to your friends, track who is planning on attending, and send details and reminders to your attendees. Be sure to select Pledge Project Canvass as your event type.

Step 3: Recruit Volunteers and Build a Team
Invite as many volunteers as possible to participate in your canvass. Make phone calls and tap into your network of friends, neighbors, and colleagues to find volunteers. You can also find your local My.BarackObama group and invite members to attend by emailing the group's listserv. You may also want to create your own flyers promoting the canvass and post them at your local coffee shop, grocery store, or library.

Ask some of your attendees to help prepare and run your canvass. You may want to consider finding volunteers for the following roles:
• Canvass coordinator – Coordinates splitting up neighborhoods, identifying high-traffic locations, and makes maps, as well as helping to prepare, distribute and re-collect canvass materials.
• Volunteer Recruitment coordinator – Responsible for reaching out to volunteers, confirming volunteer canvass sign-ups, and managing volunteer sign-in on canvass day.
• Resources coordinator – Helps to find and secure the staging ground; a place to meet before and after the canvass. This person may need to consider parking needs, restrooms, etc. This person also helps to get donations of food and water to sustain canvassers.
• Trainer – An experienced canvasser. Someone who can explain why this neighborhood and these people we’re contacting matter. Someone who can set and communicate a clear goal that will motivate and focus volunteers. Someone who can introduce the training video and answer the questions that follow it.

Step 4: Prepare all of your Materials
Create a list of canvass locations, keeping in mind that you want to canvass in walkable neighborhoods and high-traffic public locations. Make maps of the neighborhoods you plan to canvass. Be sure to photocopy enough maps for everyone to have one and delegate out an appropriate amount of streets for each person. Print out sign-in sheets, Pledge Project pledges, tally sheets, informational flyers, and scripts which will help guide your canvassers' conversations.

Step 5: Reminder Calls
Be sure to make reminder calls to volunteer canvassers in the days leading up to the canvass. Turn out will increase dramatically if you ask them for a firm commitment. Be sure that all attendees are confirmed, reconfirmed and reconfirmed again.

This agenda is meant as a suggestion to guide you through your canvass. Feel free to adjust the agenda to best suit your neighborhood and participants.

Sample Schedule:

Setting Up (15 min)
• Prepare sign-in sheets to capture as much contact information as possible from your canvassers.
• Put up signs that help direct people to the right space for the right activity. You may even set up stations, one for check in when they arrive, one for training, one for collecting materials, one for finding a canvass partner.

Welcome and Introductions (10 min)
• If possible, have each person introduce themselves by name.
• Have two people share their personal stories, addressing what is at stake for them personally to remind everyone the importance of the work they are doing.
• Explain the Pledge Project. Give context to the pledge and our larger organizing efforts. Let people know that we are getting out in front of Washington and asking our elected officials to lead the charge on energy, education and health care this year. Explain that this canvass is just the beginning for us; we will be working all year to mobilize people to take action and further President Obama’s plans.
• Set expectations. Share a goal for the number of signatures we are trying to collect and display that goal for all to see. Remind your volunteers that they are part of a huge effort with thousands of volunteers across the country participating in Pledge Project Canvasses.

Distribute Materials (5 min)
• Maps of the neighborhood and larger area
• Hard surface for writing (clipboards, cardboard, or folders)
• Pledge Project pledge
• Scripts
• Information and Resources on the issues
• Pen/Paper
• Tally Sheets to record results at the end of the walk
• Contact number for host if they encounter any issues

Training Video and Role Play (15 min)
Show Training Video
• Answer any questions
• Role Play with a partner. Practice your pitch in pairs. What are you going to say when you really do approach someone?

  Canvass (3 hours)
• Work to reach your set goal of signatures.
• Check on your team during the action. As the event host, it's your job to keep your team motivated. You may want to collect cell phone numbers and text updates about your group’s success throughout the canvass.
• You may want to give volunteers your phone number in case issues arise during their canvass. If there are any issues that you do not know how to handle call Organizing for America at 1-866-495-2004.

Debrief (15 min)
• Meet back at the staging location at an assigned time.
• Tally up. Gather information on the number of pledges collected and the number of doors knocked on. Present information on the group’s collective efforts.
• Evaluate action. Ask those who did well what made the difference. Ask those who struggled what the challenges were that we need to prepare better for next time.
• Collect all sign-in sheets, materials, and data.

If possible, organize a potluck or an optional social gathering after the canvass.

Capture Information
Enter your data online. If you are unable to enter the data online, fax it to (202) 350-6058 or you can mail it in:
Organizing for America - Pledge Project
430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, D.C., 20003

Share Your Feedback
We value your feedback. Please complete the Pledge Project Canvass evaluation. Write a blog post to share your experience with the community and send your photos to

Thank your guests
Send a personal email thanking everyone who participated in the canvass. Be sure to stay connected with your fellow volunteers and get ready for the next action!

Congratulations, you are making the change you voted for possible. Now begin planning your next event. It's up to each one of us to keep this movement going and keep fighting for change.

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