Phonebanking – Lessons from Wales

It’s not a massive surprise that the Welsh Lib Dems team are having so much success currently with phone banking, given how hard we have worked to make it happen. So far, since we began our phone banking drive, our Welsh volunteers have made over 2500 phone calls in the last month!

When we started as a staff team, in September, our new CEO, Claire Halliwell, was certain of one thing, that we needed to be making regular contact with voters and members, and that we couldn’t wait until we were allowed back out on the doorsteps to make this happen, especially with local rolling lockdowns and a firebreak announced in October.

The first step in the plan was to set up a regular schedule of phone banking. We decided on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, between 6pm and 7.30pm. Something that the Welsh Lib Dems had been doing for a while was using Zoom as a meeting place for making calls – volunteers meet on Zoom for a quick briefing, then turn off mics and/or cameras, access the Voter Phone Bank (VPB) on Connect, and make calls. We decided to continue this. It’s a great way of doing it and feels much less isolated than just making calls alone in your house. It’s also great for support – if you have a success story you can share it with others!

To launch these sessions, we planned an action morning, inviting Daisy Cooper MP along to join us. We did the usual promotion – sending out emails to members, creating Facebook events, and then pushing it in local Facebook groups. We made sure that the advert was welcoming – “Full training will be given, first timers made welcome” etc.

Our digital comms officer designed some great eye-catching graphics to go with our events promotion and we made sure that we advertised it everywhere we could. It was a really successful morning, with nearly 900 calls made, and provided a great springboard for our regular phone banking sessions.

However, it’s not all about just advertising it and hoping people turn up. As a staff team we’ve worked incredibly hard to make sure that our weekly sessions continue to be successful – we have a rota, and the Welsh staff take it in turns to ‘host’ the phone banking sessions. The host’s responsibility isn’t just about being there to switch on the zoom call – it’s about promoting the event, welcoming the volunteers, training any newcomers, and cheering them on throughout the session. It’s also about making sure we thank everyone who joins and get them signed up for the next session.

Something else that we’ve found really useful as we navigate this fully remote means of canvassing, it to be adaptive. If something isn’t working, we change it. We know that we need to encourage more people to attend, and we’re working on putting on a newcomer’s event to welcome new people and familiarise them with the process in a safe and supportive way. We’re also constantly working on getting guests to come along – so far we’ve had Daisy Cooper MP and Christine Jardine MP, but we’ve also got Tim Farron MP, Ed Davey MP, Wendy Chamberlain MP, Jamie Stone MP and Cllr John Potter (Lib Dem Podcast) joining us soon.

When you phone bank together it’s great fun, you meet loads of new and fantastic volunteers and you feel like you are making a real difference at a time when canvassing is incredibly har or impossible. We have phone banks to reach out to members, generating lots of new activist leads and we make voter calls, with a great survey in Swansea finding out which issues really matter to local voters.

BUT, the reality is this: you have to be prepared to work hard to make it happen. Ongoing phone canvassing events don’t happen without constant thought and organisation. You have to be committed and you have to be dedicated. In Wales we are so lucky that our staff team and our volunteers are just that. We all want to win in 2021, and we’re going to carry on working hard to make that happen!

If you want to see how we run our events or help us reach our next target, join us on our next phone banking session and you will be made very welcome indeed – click here to register :

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