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7 virtual volunteer strategies in a time of social distancing

Resolving the COVID-19 crisis will take time. Learn our virtual organizing tips for 2020, prioritizing safety & maintaining momentum.

The current outbreak of COVID-19 is forcing mission-driven organizations and people to think differently about organizing. Acting on advice from public health authorities, our Presidential clients have canceled some public events and advised that future events will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

At Mobilize, we are seeing significantly higher levels of signups for remote volunteering opportunities. We’ve observed 50,000+ sign ups for virtual events in the last seven days alone.

Resolving this crisis will take time, and campaigns and organizations will need to adapt strategies to keep their teams and volunteers safe. With that in mind, we wanted to share a few ideas and best practices for organizing in this environment.

Prioritize safety.

Organizers should take guidance from public health officials. We’ve seen many organizers using our messaging features to link to websites from health authorities, advise on protocols (e.g. “no handshakes”), and discourage people who are at risk from attending events.

Maintain momentum.

You can’t afford to slow down, and volunteers will benefit from active communication during these uncertain times. Give your supporters the flexibility to take action anywhere through virtual events:

  1. Remote phone-banking, text-banking and friend-to-friend outreach. All of these activities can be easily facilitated at home using virtual events. These tactics can also be used to recruit for virtual events, like webinars or online town halls.
  2. Webinar “AMA” or fireside chat with the candidate or principal. A conversational webinar enables an intimate conversation with many people at the same time.
  3. Strategy presentations from senior staff. This is a great way of giving supporters visibility into plans and tactics, which builds a greater level of engagement.
  4. Letter writing or calls to legislators. Volunteers can sign up for virtual events to take these actions following an organization’s guide or script. Calls are made seamlessly through our integration with Phone2Action.
  5. Policy trainings via call and webinar. The Elizabeth Warren campaign had huge success with online trainings on specific policy issues. Supporters leave these calls feeling more knowledgeable about the campaign and better able to advocate for shared ideas.
  6. Virtual book club meetings. All On The Line has held a popular book club series with events hosted nationally and available remotely. Organizers can lead remote conversations about a book or article with distributed supporters.
  7. Organizer-hosted video calls. Have local organizers recruit attendees to attend virtual town halls, “coffee breaks,” or virtual happy hours.

As we monitor COVID-19, organizations should consider sending their supporters a pre-filtered list of virtual events and can promote other organizations’ remote opportunities.

Everyday, we learn from the organizers who use our platform and will continue to share creative approaches as people adapt their organizing programs to our quickly-changing world.

If you have interesting use cases to share or requests for product features tailored to virtual organizing, please let us know at or on Twitter at @LetsMobilizeUs.

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