A heartfelt handwritten note can make an impact!
- Campaigns and grassroots groups are producing handwritten postcards and letters to voters, encouraging them to vote or to vote for a particular candidate.
- Postcards and letters are an easy way for people to reach out to voters in swing districts across the country.
- Even during a pandemic, this is an easy way for folks to get involved and make a difference!
Benefits of postcards
Postcards can be very effective at influencing voters. One study shows that handwritten, personalized postcards sent to women who are occasional voters as part of a get-out-the-vote effort increased turnout by 1.4% over a control group. Even if we move a small amount of people to vote, this can have a huge impact on elections that turn on the slimmest of margins. Postcard-writing parties are a great way to energize volunteers. They are easy to organize, can be a nice social occasion (even virtually!), and provide the satisfaction of accomplishment. Many volunteers enjoy postcarding as their first foray into activism.
Preparing for your postcarding project.
- First, select the postcarding provider and the campaign that you want to work on (some suggestions below). There are many postcarding providers, so feel free to explore to find the one that will inspire your group. Some organizations provide the cards and others ask you to purchase your own cards or specially made cards. Letter writing entails that you print template letters and provide envelopes. Nearly all ask that you provide the stamps.
- When you choose the one you’d like to sign up for, you will be asked how many names you want. A typical volunteer will complete 15-20 postcards in 2 hours.
- The postcard provider will then send you by email a script and a list of the names and addresses that you will send postcards to. Note: If an organization has provided a script, it must be followed and you may need to stress this to your participants.
- Some campaigns and groups will prefer to send you their pre-printed postcards to personalize. Most of the time you will be providing the stamps and postcards.
- Some campaigns will ask that you send back the postcards with stamps on them so that they can be mailed from the district. Others will have you mail them from your hometown or mail them at specified dates.
Recruiting for your postcarding party
- Pick a date, time and location for your party. In the days before Covid-19, a well-lit location with a kitchen or dining room table or a friendly coffee shop in your neighborhood were great places to gather. Now, groups are gathering via Zoom to complete postcards and enjoy each other’s company. You can postcard in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening any day of the week. The times can be flexible.
- Now that we are social distancing, groups are providing packets with cards, scripts, and addresses, at pick-up and drop-off locations so that folks can complete them on their own and mail or return them the following week.
- Invite friends, group members, neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask new people. Many people have heard about these postcarding efforts and are looking for a way to do something about the elections. Writing postcards is a very easy first step.
- Post it on your group and personal Facebook page. Include it in your newsletters. Email your friends and neighbors. Always ask people for a commitment to come to the specific location on the specific date at the specific time and a donation if they are able. The day before, send a reminder to everyone and don’t forget to include the time and place again. Let people know it is OK to bring a friend or two.
Making the most effective postcard
- Handwritten, personalized postcards work dramatically better than pre-printed form post cards. Let your writers know that using different colored pens and highlighters make the messages pop!
- Make sure your volunteers know that if they get a script from a campaign, they should use that script. Only some campaigns allow personalized messages.
- It helps to provide your volunteers with an info sheet that describes the candidate or issue that you are working on, and the mission or rationale of the postcarding project. You can often find that on the website of the postcard provider.
Party Tips (Works Virtually Too!)
- For in person events, having enough pens, markers and colored pencils -is important; now you can remind participants that they can create their own colorful cards at home.
- If the campaign doesn’t supply postcards, and you need to purchase them in advance, we recommend the 4×6″ cards that are lined on one side. The post office only sells blank 3×5″ cards. You can find the 4×6″ lined cards at Staples or another store or online retailer. (An online inexpensive option is VistaPrint, look for a discount on their website as they usually offer one.)
- Make sure participants know if they are mailing them, sending them back to the provider to mail or where/when they are being collected.
- Make the party a social event – even on Zoom! Slides and photos can be presented, have a guest speaker, take some time to discuss the campaign, have people share their best postcards. Games and BYOB is optional!
- Expect to purchase enough postcard stamps for the list or ask your participants to provide enough for the cards they are writing or a donation for the group. The post office sells rolls of 100 and these can be purchased online and mailed.
The postcarding organizations listed below are a few of those offering postcarding opportunities. Postcarding organizations may offer one or more campaigns and may not always have campaigns available.