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Case Study

How Persist Brooklyn sparked grassroots efforts after the primaries

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17%

of shifts coming from cross-promotion

6%

from bring-a-friend invites

17.6%

of supporters signed up for the first time through bring-a-friend invites

Persist Brooklyn mobilizes grassroots support and electoral action to advance Senator Elizabeth Warren’s blueprint for progressive policies from her 2020 presidential campaign.

The challenge

Before they became Persist Brooklyn, the founders of this grassroots movement were organizers for Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. Prior to the lockdown, supporters joined Brooklyn for Warren (now Persist Brooklyn) on Mobilize for daily phone banks, open mic nights, karaoke fundraisers, and happy hours with policy teach-ins at local bars. These Brooklyn for Warren volunteers also traveled beyond their own borough to assist with the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses. Determined to continue organizing for political candidates committed to advancing progressive vision and implementation, the Persist Brooklyn crew took on phone banking, text banking, and canvassing.

Before the lockdown began, supporters joined Persist Brooklyn on Mobilize for bi-weekly happy hours with special guests, postcard writing events in the park, and a celebratory virtual prom! This range of activities allowed them to form a tight-knit community within their campaign. When Warren suspended her campaign, organizers wanted to hold onto this unique bond and chose to keep fighting for Warren’s progressive policy visions. They felt that their community could do more as a single unit than they could if they were to dissolve into another candidate’s campaign. So they formed a group of their own.

The strategy

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign team helped the organizers set up their own Mobilize account. This gave them a centralized place for volunteer data collection, which allowed them to identify and follow up with the supporters who engaged with their events the most. These lists were translated into newsletters and other tools for re-engaging volunteers.

Most of Persist Brooklyn’s recruitment strategy outside of Mobilize was centered around a robust and powerful social media campaign that engaged volunteers and reached new audience. Mobilize also took on some of the burden of recruiting since their events were automatically recommended to volunteers from other organizations through cross-promotion. As a small, new grassroots organization, recruitment is generally a huge challenge; it can be tough to get the word out about your organization when most volunteers already have an organization that they work with. Mobilize offers a coalition of like-minded, progressive groups, so people who volunteered with similar organizations easily found opportunities to get involved with Persist Brooklyn. 17% of volunteers came to Persist Brooklyn from cross-promotion resulting in over 700 shifts. Because these events were virtual, Persist Brooklyn volunteers came together from all over the country to attend events and get out the vote!

Mobilize’s group chat function also helped eradicate some of the complications that come with successful event execution. The shift to virtual events due to COVID-19 provided many opportunities, but it also offered challenges for less tech savvy volunteers. With the group chat feature, volunteers could ask for help and be assisted immediately by organizers or even other volunteers. It also offered an extension of the physical community that Persist Brooklyn offers, allowing volunteers and organizers to easily stay in communication before, during, and after an event.  

Persist Brooklyn regularly hosted events for text or phone banking, encouraging their supporter base to stay engaged. The consistency also made it easy for volunteers to regularly make time to give back with Persist Brooklyn. While 46% of shifts were for phone banks and text banks, Persist Brooklyn also found a lot of success in their nontraditional events. When protesters took to the streets to express their discontent following the murder of George Floyd, Persist Brooklyn started anti-racist reading groups to give supporters a safe space to join together, get educated, and discuss the systems of oppression and the path to reform.

Persist Brooklyn also hosted more light-hearted social events to cheer up supporters and provide companionship during lockdown. They moved their happy hours online and invited local candidates to come speak about important issues. Supporters were happy to virtually chat and ask candidates about their stances on the issues over a few drinks. Other Persist Brooklyn events such as “Persist Prom” encouraged attendees to donate to candidates, adorn their formal outfits, and come together.

At the beginning of quarantine, Persist Brooklyn organizers were more focused on the well-being of their supporters than any electoral goal. These genuine, personal check-ins showed volunteers that the organization genuinely cared about their needs, making them feel supported and cared for. When Mobilize stats showed that supporters weren’t returning to their events, they approached them asking how they were rather than where they were. This subtle distinction recognized the needs of their volunteers as individuals, and it made them feel like a part of a greater community.

Their events drove huge volunteer turnout, scheduling over 4,000 shifts, and they saw volunteers coming back for more time and time again.

Success!

The community focus of Persist Brooklyn is what keeps volunteers coming back. After all, they were initially founded because of the connection that volunteers and organizers found in one another. Not only do volunteers keep coming back, but they often bring friends into the community as well. 17.6% of Persist Brooklyn supporters initially signed up for events through bring-a-friend invites. This is part of the reason why half of the current Persist Brooklyn members weren’t involved with the Warren campaign at all; they were invited and drawn to the organization itself.

Mobilize makes it easy for grassroots organizers to continue and grow momentum in areas they are passionate about. Mobilize does this by automating otherwise time-consuming tasks such as recruitment, supporter follow-up and more. It also provides organizations with a centralized space to recruit and engage supporters. When they use Mobilize, organizers can focus on the issues that matter to them and know that all the other details are being taken care of.

This bond is found in many campaigns where individuals come together to support one another and fight for a shared goal. They were able to channel and organize their community into something far greater than being dissolved into another campaign. Persist organizers were able to foster these connections and channel them into a group that is uniquely powerful, and they are continuing to grow and inspire change. This is seen in the Persist groups that have been popping up around the country that were inspired to fight for shared values in their own community.

What’s next for Persist Brooklyn?

Persist Brooklyn hopes to focus more on local and city issues rather than national ones. As Persist Brooklyn continues to grow, local candidates have reached out to organizers looking for ways to get involved with their group. They are looking forward to getting more involved in city politics and forming progressive coalitions with other local groups. They will also be mobilizing for national races such as the Georgia senate elections!

They will be hosting more educational, social, and campaign events for members in the city. Look for ways to get involved! Be sure to follow @PersistBrooklyn on social media so that you’ll never miss an update.