Mobilize is part of the NGP VAN family! Learn more
Case Study

How the Biden campaign used Mobilize to make history

President Joe Biden was one of the first presidential candidate to join the Mobilize network, starting his Mobilize page in April 2019. By Election Day, his campaign had used Mobilize to power 5.87 million shifts from 1.6 million supporters.
Photo credit:

5.6+ million

volunteer shifts

1.6+ million

incremental shifts from the Mobilize network


donations from volunteers

Joe Biden was elected to serve as the 46th President of the United States. Prior to his presidential campaign, Biden served as Vice President alongside 44th President, Barack Obama.

President Joe Biden was one of the first presidential candidates to join the Mobilize network, starting his Mobilize page in April 2019.  By Election Day, 1.6 million supporters had volunteered for Joe Biden on Mobilize, taking over 5.87 million shifts. His campaign was also able to collect over 20,000 donations through Mobilize alone, amounting to an estimated $954,517.

These 1.6 million volunteers helped determine Joe Biden’s win. Without the combined efforts of his organizers, donors, and volunteers, this historic victory would not have been possible.

Leveraging the Mobilize network

A major benefit of Mobilize is that it automizes the volunteer recruitment process for you. Organizations and campaigns on the platform can allow other organizations to cross-promote their events, prompt registrants to invite friends, and automate additional event suggestions to volunteers. Of the Biden campaign’s signups, 28% were driven by Mobilize’s automated recruitment features—that’s over 1.6 million incremental shifts with no added effort.

This includes:

  • 10% from bring-a-friend prompts
  • 12% from automated event suggestions
  • 6% from non-campaign related promotions

62 organizations promoted Joe Biden events on their Mobilize feed, including Swing Left, the National Education Association, and Crooked Media. Of all the organizations that promoted Biden, the central feed contributed the most: 104k shifts, nearly 2% of the total.

Campaigning virtually

Before mid-March, when COVID began to spread in the US, only 4% of Joe Biden campaign events were virtual. At that time, nearly 40% of events were door-to-door canvassing opportunities. The campaign quickly shifted to virtual organizing by the end of March when stay-at-home orders went into place. Over the course of his campaign, 73% of all events were virtual—a first for any Presidential campaign.

In order to make the shift, the campaign doubled down on Mobilize efforts and invested in vibrant Slack communities. While social distancing limited in-person organizing opportunities, the campaign took it in stride and embraced some of the assets to virtual organizing—since locations and travel were no longer an issue, the sky was the limit. Thousands of volunteers were able to have an impact who wouldn’t have otherwise.

Mobilize’s features streamlined virtual events to make them more accessible and add personal touches that a volunteer would find at an in-person event. The group chat feature allowed users to communicate before and after attending events. This was conducive to forming a community among volunteers and organizers, which kept volunteers engaged and coming back.

Mobilize’s Zoom integration made it easy for volunteers to attend virtual events. In addition, the post-shift surveys automated feedback collection and volunteer attendance verification. 92% of volunteers filled out these feedback forms providing the campaign invaluable insights into their impact.

Creating engaging events

The Joe Biden campaign hosted 37,641 events on Mobilize over the course of the campaign. They hosted 28 different types of events—there was something for everyone.

Trainings helped supporters develop their skill sets, and provided an orientation for volunteers who were less comfortable with digital campaigning. This emphasis on training strengthened volunteers’ confidence, making them more engaged and more likely to volunteer in the future for other causes.

Watch parties, virtual rallies, community events, and house parties built camaraderie amongst Joe Biden supporters. These four types made up 35% of all campaign events. Especially during a time of limited social interaction, these social activities kept volunteers engaged and excited.

However, the campaign also hosted traditional voter contact events such as phone banks and text banks. Campaign-affiliated volunteers made over 300 million phone calls and sent more than 330 million text messages from Mobilize events. Towards the end of the campaign, they also were able to safely host more in-person canvassing events in states that permitted it. With Mobilize, volunteers were trained how to safely knock on millions of doors.

Empowering volunteers

The Biden campaign powerfully leveraged Mobilize’s volunteer hosting features, which allow super volunteers to host events on the campaign’s behalf. Volunteer hosts efficiently recruit new supporters on behalf of an organization by drawing in volunteers from their own networks, which is often a less intimidating way for new supporters to get involved. In fact, supporters whose first event is volunteer-hosted are 2x more likely to be retained in future months.

The Biden campaign recruited volunteer hosts by prompting volunteers on their website and Mobilize feed, and by creating different workflows as volunteers got more involved. In order to make it easier to host, the Biden campaign ran a vibrant volunteer host Slack community where members could share tips, ask questions, and get to know one another.

Mobilize also recruited volunteer hosts on the campaign’s behalf by asking attendees if they would be interested in hosting future events to gauge interest. It also automated the process of asking volunteer hosts to host again if they left positive feedback.

By focusing on volunteer hosting and providing useful resources, the Biden campaign recruited 6,248 volunteer hosts. These volunteers hosted over 10,000 events and were responsible for 431,000 shifts, more than 7% of the total.

READ MORE: Our tips for volunteer hosting

Coordinating with multiple groups

Once Joe Biden won the nomination and expanded his campaign efforts, Mobilize made it easier to coordinate internally between the different states, the Democratic National Committee, and state parties. Mobilize’s cross-promotion, co-ownership, and SQL mirror features made it simpler to collaborate around shared objectives, allowing for complex data structures that maximized the efficiency of state-to-national coordination.

The co-hosting feature allowed users to share event planning, recruitment, and volunteer management responsibilities among various members of the team. This feature makes it especially easy to collaborate when users are unable to work together in person. When the Biden campaign hosted events with other organizations, members of both groups were able to work together to organize and manage volunteers.

READ MORE: Learn more about co-hosting

Turning swing states blue

(Data from April 2020 to November 2020)

Five swing states determined the results of the election: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Arizona. The campaign’s organizing programs in these five states—with events primarily managed through Mobilize—were decisive in the narrow state wins across the board:

  • Pennsylvania was determined by 6,902 votes. On Mobilize, 168k volunteers signed up for 604k shifts in PA.
  • Wisconsin was determined by 20,539 votes. On Mobilize, 51.8k volunteers signed up for 139k shifts in WI.
  • Michigan was determined by 146,109 votes. On Mobilize, 70k volunteers signed up for 220.5k shifts in MI.
  • Georgia was determined by 12,670 votes. On Mobilize, 75.1k volunteers signed up for 209k shifts in GA.
  • Arizona was determined by 43,569 votes. On Mobilize, 61.7k volunteers signed up for 193k shifts in AZ.

One of the advantages of virtual organizing was the removal of physical boundaries, which allowed volunteers to sign up for shifts anywhere in the country. This is what allowed 47% of Mobilize shifts for Pennsylvania, 62% of Mobilize shifts for Wisconsin, and 54% of Mobilize shifts for Arizona to come from supporters across the country.

Looking back

Mobilize was created in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when millions of Americans sought ways to take action in support of social and political issues, like flooding the streets in Women’s Marches across the nation. Our co-founders realized that the true impetus for social change is sustained engagement with organizations and like-minded community members. Four years later, we’re excited by the role Mobilize played in Joe Biden’s decisive defeat of Donald Trump, and the network of organizers and supporters who made it happen.