Using MiniVan, NGP VAN’s mobile app, you can save hundreds of hours of campaign staff and volunteer time. You can then put all that extra time toward your GOTV efforts, phone banking, canvassing, voter registration, and gearing up for debates or voter education opportunities. With MiniVan, gone are the days of assembly line collating multi-page turf packets that do nothing but confuse volunteers. You won’t have to find people to enter the data scratched on sheets of paper into your database either. You also won’t have to spend time going back to correct transcription errors.
NGP VAN’s mobile app can be synced in real time to your VoteBuilder database, so the data appears in the database as soon as you enter it. If you’ve been involved in campaigns for a while, you are no doubt shouting for joy over this new technology offered by NGP VAN. The old way of transcribing data from field notes was comparable to writing out an old-fashioned letter by hand, having your mom try to read your scribble and type it up for you, and then making a special trip to the post office to buy a stamp and mail the letter. With NGP VAN’s MiniVan app, the data collected by door knockers and phone bankers can be automatically entered into the database by syncing a smartphone or tablet.
More recently, NGP VAN has added a new option that can hold the data in a temporary queue to be checked by the campaign manager or an experienced field organizer before it is released into the most up-to-date version of the database. This update was included in response to users of the NGP VAN mobile app who wanted to oversee the data being entered a bit more closely before it got mixed into the full database. This can come in handy when dealing with new canvassers who may need some time to get used to what data they should be collecting and how they should enter it. It’s nice to have this new option in NGP VAN’s MiniVan app, but it’s also nice that you don’t have to use it if you don’t need it.
Here’s another cool feature of NGP VAN’s MiniVan app. You can create nested (branched) scripts that walk canvassers through what to ask a potential voter. The script starts the same for every potential voter, and then changes depending on the responses a canvasser receives. Some of your canvassers may have a natural gift of gab and a special knack for getting the information you need from each potential voter. However, many canvassers will need some help learning what to say and how to talk to different types of voters. Using the MiniVan app by NGP VAN in your training sessions, your volunteers will have an easier time learning how to canvass successfully. They will also have more fun, which can translate into more volunteer hours.
Without training, your canvassers may get flustered in the field when a potential voter tells them something they weren’t expecting. Once you have your scripts written out and ready to go for the NGP VAN MiniVan app, you can provide practice sessions for your canvassing volunteers. Using the nested scripts loaded onto their smartphones or tablets, you can have them take turns role playing door knocker and different types of potential voters. You may even want to throw them a few curve balls so they become pros and develop more confidence. In this way, your canvassers will be fully ready before they head out into the neighborhoods, so they can collect data that is more accurate and detailed.
What other advantages might NGP VAN’s mobile MiniVan app provide? Instead of your canvassers fumbling through multiple pages of turf packets, they’ll have more time to familiarize themselves with your campaign literature. You’ll also be able to easily track who is covering what turf and when. You can even modify things easily if needed. For example, if a canvasser has to drop out because she develops blisters on her feet, you’ll be able to reassign her turf to another canvasser. Canvassers will also stay more motivated, because they’ll see a visual bar graph of their progress in real time. This will motivate them to finish their assigned turf in an efficient and steady manner, or perhaps speed up if necessary.
On NGP VAN’s mobile MiniVan app, there’s a manager tool that will become your field organizer’s best friend. He or she can use the MiniVan manager tool to monitor in real time every canvasser out in the field. They’ll be able to tell where an individual canvasser is and how much progress they have made. They’ll also be able to do a quick assessment of how effective they are at their canvassing. If needed, the field organizer can go help a canvasser who is struggling or pull them back for additional training. They could also send a more experienced canvasser to their location to help out and get them up to speed. Essentially, the manager tool helps the entire team become stronger.
If you’ve ever been out canvassing and gotten lost in a strange neighborhood, you’ll know how frustrating that experience can be. The MiniVan app from NGP VAN eliminates this problem by giving your canvassers a map showing them exactly where they are and where they need to go next. It will also help your canvassers know how many voters will be located at a particular address, so they can try to talk to all of them or leave literature for those who aren’t home at the time. Furthermore, the MiniVan app has such a user-friendly interface that it won’t take most users long to learn how to use all the important aspects of the app. If you have an older volunteer who is not that adept at using modern technology, consider pairing them up with a younger tech savvy volunteer who can learn from the older volunteer’s years of experience on how to talk to voters.
It would not be overstating the situation to say that NGP VAN’s mobile MiniVan app has completely revolutionized the way campaign managers and field organizers go about their work. Given the relatively low cost of this tremendously powerful campaign tool, it should be a no-brainer for most campaigns to make sure MiniVan is in their arsenal and available to their entire network of volunteers. Now, go out there and GOTV!
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