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04.03.2019

Champions Share 7 Tips for Hosting a Successful Phone Bank

There are a few days each year when Shot@Life champions and supporters are urged to call their federal lawmakers and let them know that they support fully funding global childhood vaccination programs. One of those days is World Immunization Week Call-In Day on April 24.

While you can certainly call in on your own, having a phone bank can be a great way to make calling a fun social event. As an added bonus, it’s a great opportunity to encourage others to join you in your efforts. The more calls to Congress, the louder our collective voice.

Wondering just how to go about holding a phone bank? Here are some tips from Karen Hill-Davis of GFWC Illinois who has had great success hosting Shot@Life phone banks with the Homer Glen Junior Women’s Club, and Emilee Gibson, who has led them as the advisor to the Immunity Campaign at the University of Iowa.

Send out invites well in advance

People can only attend the phone bank if they know about it, so focus on getting the word out, and doing so a bit in advance. Gibson says that an easy way to increase attendance is by encouraging each person who says they will be there to bring a friend. Make sure people know the more, the merrier.

Hill-Davis spreads word of her events in a wide variety of ways. She says her GFWC group does everything from post flyers in community businesses to putting notices in the local community newspaper (often they’ll share nonprofit events) to creating a Facebook event to using the MeetUp app to email. “And of course, word of mouth,” she adds.

Not a lot of time? No problem! You can keep it short and sweet

Phone banks don’t require a significant time commitment. Hosting for just an hour is great. When inviting people, let them know that even a few minutes of their time can make a big difference. The calls are quick!  The phone bank can last as long as you like, especially if you want to socialize, but know that you’re not giving up a huge chunk of your day.

Make it easy for attendees to know what to do

Have the Shot@Life call-in number (844-368-0294) posted around the space and/or on tables. That number will connect them to each of their legislators. Also, make sure callers have sample scripts and summary Shot@Life fact sheets (all of which can be found in the toolkit here) for people to refer to when placing their calls. A list of lawmakers’ social media handles is also helpful.

Offer to help

For those who are new or nervous, offer assistance. “Have experienced volunteers circulate the room and offer assistance. This helps with first time jitters and anxiety,” says Hill-Davis.

Gibson suggests allowing first timers to listen to one of your calls and offering to talk them through their first call.

Don’t limit yourself to just calls

Don’t let the name of the event box you in. It’s the perfect time to get those who have joined you dialed in to Shot@Life advocacy efforts to reach lawmakers through all channels.

“A phone bank is not just for calling your legislators. You can also contact them by letters, emails, text messages, tweets, and Instagram posts,” says Hill-Davis. You can also find sample social media shares on the last page of the toolkit.

Provide fuel for those working the phones

Food goes a long way in bringing people in and adding to the fun factor of your event.

One option is that occasionally Shot@Life has small scholarships that can be used for such advocacy events and, yes, it’s okay to use the funds to order pizza or other fun food. Email your event idea and a proposed budget to champions@shotatlife.org to apply! Another option is to host the event at a restaurant and do a fundraiser there as well – advocacy and fundraising can happen simultaneously.

Want to host at home? That’s great, too! You can just set out some quick and easy snacks at your event or say “yes, please” if someone offers to bring something.

Track everyone’s efforts

Inviting people who are new to Shot@Life is wonderful, but they may not know how to report their actions to Shot@Life. Hill-Davis recommends having worksheets available and providing pens that participants can use to fill them out. And don’t forget to file a report for your successful event in the Champion community.

  • Shannan is a writer and recovering attorney who lives with her husband and teen daughter in the Chicago suburbs.  Her work has been featured by the BBC, the Chicago Tribune and the Family Online Safety Institute. Her writing has been published in several anthologies and she contributes to Chicago Parent, Make It Better magazine and...