The Arizona Education Association is the largest professional association for public school employees in Arizona. As a labor union, they advocate on behalf of students, staff, and teachers in Arizona.
At the beginning of 2020, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) aimed to engage 9% of their membership in some type of voter contact efforts, including knocking on doors and calling or texting voters. They started this process by collecting signatures for their #INVESTinED (Prop 208) initiative, which aimed to better fund schools and support educators across Arizona.
However, in March, when stay-at-home orders went into place due to COVID-19, the AEA had to reimagine member mobilization. They could no longer host in-person phone banks, canvassing, or other voter contact efforts. Much of their base was forced to adapt to online school and the difficulties of virtual teaching. They were also challenged to figure out a way to track volunteer participation.
The AEA turned to Mobilize for a renewed supporter engagement strategy that would help them achieve their mission in a virtual world. At the time, Mobilize had seen virtual signups on the platform go from 25% of total signups to nearly 100%. Mobilize was also supporting the National Education Association with this transition.
By centralizing their member mobilization efforts, supporting volunteer hosting initiatives, and automating recruitment, Mobilize helped the AEA generate 34% more signups and 435,000+ signatures on their petition.
Supporter engagement during a pandemic
“Mobilize allowed us to create events, send reminders, and follow up with event attendees in a fast, efficient way.”
The AEA hosted 474 virtual events and online actions in support of #INVESTinED, using Mobilize to register members in a central destination, send them personalized event Zoom link instructions, and answer questions remotely. The AEA set regional recruitment goals for each event and were able to monitor progress in real time on Mobilize and through the VAN integration.
Because Arizona State Law prohibits the collection of electronic signature for statewide ballot initiatives, the AEA also needed to collect over 200,000 signatures safely in person. They hosted drive-up, walk-up, and drive-through signings alongside virtual offerings on their Mobilize dashboard, offering members and supporters a central destination for getting involved. By collecting these registrations in advance, they could properly staff the in-person event booths in the safest way possible.
The AEA also hosted Statewide Notary Pop Ups on Mobilize to safely notarize their signed petitions. And when members contacted them about safe ways to knock on doors in support of #INVESTinED (Prop 208), Mobilize offered a way to recruit volunteers and distribute PPE.
In the end, the AEA recruited 2,173 supporters to take 3,267 actions in support of #INVESTinED, and submitted over 435,000 signatures to the AZ Secretary of State.
Volunteer recruitment through the Mobilize network
The AEA recruited volunteers using social media, mass text message invitations, and Mobilize tools.
Mobilize’s bring-a-friend prompts encouraged members to recruit from their personal networks, which was especially helpful for generating first-time volunteers. 24.4% of those who volunteered with AEA came from these bring-a-friend prompts!
In addition to bring-a-friend, the AEA automated recruitment using Mobilize’s automated event suggestions, weekly newsletter, and cross-promotion features. Through these features, the AEA received 34% more signups than they would have without the Mobilize network.
Empowering members to host events
Many of the AEA’s super members were looking for ways to get more politically involved, so they became volunteer hosts for the AEA. This Mobilize feature allows supporters to host events on behalf of an organization, while still giving the organization the final say and approval on an event.
In order to assist their volunteer hosts, the AEA created an easy-to-use template and toolkit full of resources. (Mobilizealso has its own on-boarding materials for those interested in hosting!) After hosting their first events, many hosts came back for more and recruited fellow members to do the same.
Thanks to Mobilize’s streamlined member-hosted events features, the AEA recruited 107 volunteer hosts and drove 510 shifts into 325 volunteer-hosted events!
“When our state shut down, we thought we might not meet our goal. Mobilize allowed for ANYONE, no matter their activist level, to host or attend an event safely... Had we not been able use this feature it would have been significantly harder to collect over 400,000 signatures.”
Success & next steps
“AEA members are some of the most courageous members I’ve worked with. They braved a pandemic to fight for our schools, all while still teaching virtually.”
Even while having to adjust to online teaching, these tenacious teachers and educators took a stand to advocate for their schools and improve the education for students in Arizona.
Now that the election is over, AEA has time to regroup, strategize, and prepare their members. 2022 is a big year for Arizona because it will be a Governor race. They plan on using 2021 to host trainings about canvassing, phone banking, and text banking on Mobilize. AEA members will be prepared to swing the vote in 2022 and elect progressive leaders.