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How Our New Tech Tools Can Help Grow The Resistance

Kyle Tharp

There's been so much incredible organizing and mobilization happening since Donald Trump took office. Literally millions of people are taking different steps to make their voices heard - whether that's calling their elected officials or attending mass rallies. How are these "resistance" actions being aided by technology? What tools can organizers use to better capture data and maximize their impact? 

We sat down with progressive campaign veteran Amanda Coulombe, NGP VAN's General Manager of Organizing, to talk how tech can help organizations capitalize on this moment. 

In terms of organizing, what has impressed or inspired you since Trump took office?

AC: I’ve been so impressed with the huge level of activity happening across the progressive movement. One of the things coming out of the election that felt a little unknown was: What were we, as Democrats and progressives, going to do with this pivotal moment?

Now we’ve seen that people have really taken it as a call to action, they're not taking these terrible policy changes and assaults on our values lying down. And on top of that, it’s really not just the usual people that you see all the time – so many people are getting involved for the first time. 

I've been to a few of the marches and protests in Boston, and seeing the incredible number of people who are coming out, making their voices heard, and standing up for our mutually held values has just been incredibly inspiring. 

From an NGP VAN and EveryAction perspective, it’s been so cool seeing our clients and partners in the community really come together to offer up tools and information about how people can take action and be really effective in their resistance of this administration.

 

amanda pic womens march.jpg[Above: Amanda & the NGP VAN team at the Women's March in Boston]

What kind of technology do you think organizers around the country are in need of right now?

AC: There’s a few a different things: Number one, at the protests and marches I’ve been to its been really great to see the ways that organizers and volunteers are trying to “bootstrap” getting attendees’ information. Speaking from my experience as an organizer and a field staffer, I certainly always want to have a clipboard handy to sign up new supporters and volunteers. I think the marches and rallies can do a better job of gathering contact info, volunteer signup data, and accepting donations on the spot – and that’s a place where one of our new tools comes in.

MiniVAN’s new Street Team Canvassing functionality really allows anyone with a smart phone or tablet to be able to collect information from people anywhere, on the spot. Protest and rally organizers or volunteers will be able to sign-up attendees to volunteer, or learn more about getting involved with their respective organizations. On top of that, nonprofits using MiniVAN can collect mobile contributions, so organizers have an opportunity to raise thousands of dollars for their causes while canvassing crowds at these incredible events.

The ability to capture that information and send it back in real-time is powerful - it lets organizations see benefits to their activity, and gives them the opportunity to activate those people to further action immediately. As we saw with the Executive Orders over the last couple of weeks, time is of the essence in responding to what's being put out there by the administration, and I think the ease of use and real-time nature of our tools can be really helpful to organizations trying to mobilize at a moment's notice.
 
And secondly, I think organizations always need new ways to rapidly disseminate information about what’s going on in Congress and the administration. In this new world of “alternative facts” and fake news, it can be really difficult to get a clear sense of what’s real and what’s fake, so tools from organizations using multiple channels – from social media, to text messaging, to targeted email blasts – can really make a difference.

 

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Aside from MiniVAN, what other tools should organizations planning “resistance” actions take advantage of?

AC: A really great, major focus of our EveryAction toolset has been powering organizations to build better grassroots advocacy programs. 

I think our Social Advocacy tool is something thats newer and has a lot of potential to increase capacity among advocacy organizations. We're not only going to be fighting the administration, but the Republican-majority in Congress too. Many members of Congress use twitter and social media a lot to hear from their constituents and gauge support for certain issues and specific policies they may be voting on. Social advocacy gives groups the ability to really quickly create an online form, draft a short message, and have their supporters very easily tweet it out en masse at a list of targeted elected officials. 

This all fits into our overall goal of enabling progressives to run sophisticated, multi-channel outreach campaigns as quickly and easily as possible. We're proud to be a part of the progressive movement, and excited about the new innovations we're bringing to the table to help push the resistance to victory. 

Topics: Organizing, miniVAN, Resistance, Advocacy