How Technology Can Help

how_tech_can_help

The Preliminary Analysis for Technology section of this paper outlines three core areas of party activity: outreach, policy development and management. It provides some key assessment questions to help a party evaluate its performance in each and set appropriate goals. Once a party has determined its area of focus, this section can identify some of the ways in which technology might help the party achieve its goals. These sections discuss outreach, policy development, and party management in more detail, and outline how new technologies can help a party improve its performance in each area. Each section contains links to different elements of the toolbox, which explores specific tools in more detail and gives case studies illustrating how political parties have successfully, or unsuccessfully, tried to solve similar problems.

Many tools apply to more than one party operation. For example, a database is one of the most basic political organizing tools, and a party can use it to improve outreach, track member and constituent concerns as part of the policy development process, and help manage party interactions with volunteers and members[1]. The matrix below shows each core area of party activity along with subcategories and links to some applicable tools.

ICT TOOLS

FUNCTIONS

Constituent Mgmt.

Email

SMS

Intranets/ VPNs

Mobile Phones

Office Apps

Online Advertising

Radio

Social Media

Websites

OUTREACH
Voter Contact

Supporter Contact

Member Contact

Targeting

GOTV

Message Development

POLICY DEVELOPMENT
Identifying Citizen Needs

Research

Drafting Policy

Policy Approval

Policy Communication

ORGANIZATION
Internal Communication

Communications from Supporters

Management

Knowledge Management/Archives

Training

Budgeting/Party Finances

Key Takeaways

How Tech Can Help: With creativity, technology can amplify a party’s outreach, policy development, and management efforts in an efficient and cost effective way.

Outreach: Communication facilitates political participation for all citizens and opens a dialogue between party leaders and members. Technology can help party outreach by mobilizing current supporters, attracting new ones, considering member opinions, distributing party messages, and managing party communications from members and constituents.

Policy Development: Technology can help a party propose policies representative of its members by soliciting input directly from them, creating databases and polling tools for policy research, facilitating policymaker discussions (e.g., through Google Hangouts), allowing for member feedback and/or approval, and communicating policy positions to members.

Management: A party must have an internal organization system, including procedures for communicating internally, managing resources, making decisions, tracking members and activists, managing internal knowledge, and training staff and members. CRM software such as NDI’s CiviParty tool and more can help a party accomplish these tasks.

[1] Parties around the world rely on party members and volunteers to conduct outreach and conduct other day-to-day party activities. Recruiting and managing them is an integral component of party operations, and as such they are discussed at length on this website. Because most parties operate on a membership model, that is the term used by default on this site except when referring to a specific party.