Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Volunteer for Bernie

I've noticed on Bernie's campaign events that there's a lot going on in the way of door knocking, phone banking, and voter registering. Now seems to be prime time to reach out to undecided voters and tell them about Bernie. There's tons of resources out there, so here's a comprehensive guide.

1. Check for local events

It may be that there are volunteer events happening in your area, in which case all you need to do is sign up. The host of the event should be able to provide you with all the details. If, however, you can't find a local event, you can create your own. Bernie's campaign has all the info you need for hosting a successful event and using the event tool.

2. Get to work

Fill out the linked forum and check the kind of work you'd like to do for Bernie. A campaign staffer should get back to you with more information on how you can help.

3. Phone banking

Phone banking involves calling voters in early primary states and asking them which candidate they support. This helps the campaign identify undecided voters and voters leaning toward Bernie so campaign efforts can target those voters. Identifying Bernie supporters also allows the campaign to connect them with volunteer opportunities. There are four states that have their primary voting in February. Eleven more states their primary March 1st. Rather than do this all yourself, why not host a phone bank party?

4. Flyering

Print and pass out flyers anywhere you can. Here's an official field guide to get you started. has tons of flyers on every issue Bernie supports in English and Spanish. Also check out FlyersforBernie, NYCforBernie, and one or two other resources. Googling "Bernie flyer" also earns some great results.

Business cards have gained favor with some people over flyers for their convenient size and how most people are more likely to slip them into a pocket to read later. You can find Bernie business cards here and here. And SCforBernie has cards you can order without the hassle of printing them yourself.

5. Tabling

Tabling involves registering (and sometimes paying) for a table at a college, farmer's market, conference, or other event. You'd talk to people about Bernie, hand out flyers, and collect information from people who'd be interested getting updates from the campaign or volunteering. I wasn't able to find specific information from the campaign on tabling, but I did find a nice guide from AAUW and I have seen tabling events on the campaign site.

6. Door Knocking / Canvassing

Door knocking is exactly as it sounds. The campaign has a helpful guide on what to say and what data to record. You can do this in your own neighborhood or check for or create local events to cover more ground with more people. Here's a helpful video from Bernie supporters on canvassing.

7. Gathering petition signatures

Bernie needs signatures to get on the voting ballet in some states. The campaign has a list of states where signatures need to be gathered. Sign up to help if you can.

8. Writing letters to the editor

Since mainstream media isn't as interested in covering Bernie, it's up to us to write letters to the editor of our local newspapers. Those letters hopefully get published and Bernie gets publicity. You could this on your own just by locking up your local newspaper and their submission guidelines. But why not join a group while you're at it? The campaign also has a guide for letter party hosting.

9. Hosting a watch party

Create an event on the campaign site and host a watch party for a debate or important Bernie announcement. The campaign has this helpful guide.

10. Fundraising

Fundraising for Bernie can very a simple process. Supporters have hosted events and sold baked goods or beer, the proceeds of which are then donated to Bernie's campaign. Others simply host events and ask for donations at the door. Musicians have sang, and artists have sold art for Bernie. Others have created facebook events and invite people to donate small amounts of money on a specific day. The possibilities are endless.

11. Chalking the Block

Chalking the block involves doing chalk art for Bernie in public spaces. Check out the campaign chalking guide. And don't forget to look for or plan your own event.

12. Sign waving

Sign waving involves creating Bernie signs and going out to high-traffic areas and waving signs to spread the word about Bernie. It's always safer to do this in a group and remember to stay out of the road.

13. Light brigade

The Light Brigade is a group of volunteers who build light signs supporting Bernie and display them in busy areas to gain support for Bernie. Signs are easy and relatively cheep to make. And it's fun to do as a group.

14. Voter registration

Register people in your area to vote. The campaign has a guide on how to choose a location and what tools you will need. And as usual, create an event to go with a group of people.

15. Primary state campaigning

Primary state campaigning involves taking any of the suggestions listed here and traveling to a primary voting state to raise support for Bernie. This is best done in a group, and you should especially check for carpools or other events in your area if you live near a state about to enter primary voting.

16. Social media

Share what you can about Bernie on social media with your family and friends. Spread awareness and stimulate conversation.

17. Decorate your car

You don't have to go all out on your car. A simple bumper sticker can go a long way to drawing awareness for Bernie.

Other resources

Check out other volunteer resources and apps at the Bernkit and the campaign's official toolkit.

Rallies and marches are also an effective method of raising awareness, but they can take a good amount of planning and organization.

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