Toolbox

The toolbox outlines basic tools that can help parties achieve their goals. These tools are not right for all parties and they are to be used for different purposes, including outreach, communication, and internal organization. Deciding if a tool is right for a party requires analysis and a thorough understanding of a party’s environment, available finances and human resources. Without the right resources, and utilized in the wrong context, these tools may not have their desired outcome and may cost more than the party originally planned.

Website

A website remains the hub of a party’s online presence by persuading, recruiting and organizing party supporters. The party can choose between open-source and proprietary Content Management Systems (CMSs) to store and organize the site’s content.

Constituent Management

A centrally located and standardized list of supporters can help a party securely target them. Constituent Relations Management (CRM) software tracks supporters and provides data that allows the party to target specific membership segments.

Email

Email is a flexible tool that maintains a high response rate among supporters. Email can support party fundraising efforts, recruit members, mobilize supporters and more. Having supporters provide an email address allows a party to expand its member database.

Social Media

Social media platforms such as Facebook enable supporters to spread a party’s message, can serve as hubs and may empower citizens to hold their governments accountable. But social media does not target all supporters and online supporters might hesitate to take action offline into the physical world.

Mobile & Smart Phones

A party can use SMS messaging and mobile phone voice features to connect with, mobilize and poll supporters. If smartphones are common among party members, the party can develop an app to push information to and receive feedback from members.

Radio

In some countries, radio is the best or only means of broadcasting to political audiences. Beyond the traditional radio receiver to hear messages, a party can use radio to reach supporters’ mobile phones, which are equipped with FM receivers and it can use digital Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to record and upload audio policy information.

Online Advertising

In some countries, through channels such as Google, Facebook and YouTube, a party can use cookie-based advertising to direct ads to target demographics online. The party can create a custom audience and, through both cookies and social media behavior, target and advertise to current and potential supporters.

Short Message Service (SMS)

SMS allows users to send short messages between mobile phones and has become a common tool in low-tech environments. Before incorporating SMS, a party must consider the cost and availability of mobile phones, the presence of an SMS app, and user demographics.

Office Applications

Simple office technologies like word processors, spreadsheets and presentations are available commercially (e.g., Microsoft Office) and for free (e.g., Google Docs). Free applications like Google Docs operate on the cloud, which sacrifices some functionality for simplicity and the ability to collaborate.