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The State

Host a Phone Bank

What is a Phone Bank?

A phone bank is a gathering of volunteers for the purpose of making phone calls to voters. A phone bank might take place in a volunteer’s home, at a supportive small business or restaurant, or a campaign office. 

Phone banks are generally led by a staff organizer or an experienced Neighborhood Team Leader. A phone bank host might invite 8-12 people including neighborhood team members, members of their personal network, and volunteer prospects who have not been involved before.

The primary goal of a phone bank is to contact voters and build camaraderie between volunteer team members.

Why make phone calls?

The most effective way to motivate a voter to take action, whether contacting their representative, supporting a candidate, or otherwise advocating for our shared values, is to have a one-on-one personal conversation with them. 

Hearing from an authentic member of their community will always be more effective than a message crafted in Chicago or Washington, D.C. delivered through television or direct mail.

Phone calls allow us to have conversations with many voters very quickly, including voters in rural areas where door knocking may not be possible. Phone calls also allow us to leave a recorded voicemail with a call-back number.

Why phone banks?

While it is possible to make calls through i-360 from home, many volunteers prefer to make calls with others. We also find this method to be more effective – generating more calls and better volunteer retention. 

Most volunteers are motivated to return week after week by the relationships that they build with each other. They come back because they’re having fun!

Phone banks are an opportunity to catch up with friends and to feel like we are a part of a larger movement.

Phone Bank Planning Timeline

Successful phone banks require some planning. While it’s not necessary to follow this format exactly, it provides a helpful structure. 

5-7 Days out

3-4 Days out

Day Before

At The Phone Bank

On the day of the phone bank, arrive early to make sure that the space is ready for the attendees. Pay attention to seating. 

If possible, prepare some food and refreshments to provide attendees. If you’re not able to grab supplies, ask your staff organizer or send an e-mail to your attendee list. Someone will be excited to help! Potlucks are always a good idea.

Consider printing the wifi password or posting it in a conspicuous location.

Allow the attendees some time to mingle and get comfortable before starting to make calls. Aim to start making calls 30 minutes after the scheduled start time.

Confirm you have contact information for guests.

Tech Troubleshooting

It’s likely that technological issues will come up during the phone bank. Don’t panic! 

If a staff organizer is not present, make sure you have their phone number easily accessible. Your organizer may be able to provide extra devices in case an attendee needs one.

Prepare paper volunteer recruitment lists that you can provide to anyone who is unable to make calls through i-360.

Most of all, stay calm and be patient. Attendees will take their lead from the host.

Phone Bank Asks

An important step in retaining volunteers is asking them to come back! Use these sample asks to make sure that you are as effective as possible. 

Best Practices

Phone Bank Follow Up

A primary purpose of a phone bank is to expand our volunteer pool and motivate people to get involved as part of a neighborhood team. That means follow-up is one of the most important things a host does! 

1 Day After

2 Day After

Put It Into Action

Now you are ready to expand your network and act as a leader in your community. Change will come to Illinois, but only if we each work to bring more people into our movement. Sign up here to host a phone bank and we’ll follow up to walk you through each step.