Relational organizing is the bright, shiny term getting all the attention in the world of politics and campaigns.

A lot of people ask us: What is it? Where does it come from? How is it different than other organizing? Why is it important? How can it help build change and progress? How does it reflect the needs of organizations and their members? How can it be integrated into traditional organizing models in a way that benefits programs in their entirety? And of course, the seminal question: isn’t this just good organizing?

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It’s our goal to lead a long-term discussion to get as close to answers around these questions as possible. We intend to do this by bringing together a community of volunteers, activists, community leaders, organizers, directors, academics, and more in a broad discussion meant to better define the principles behind organizing as a strategy and how it relates to relational organizing.

While doing all of this, we will also be working with that community and the knowledge gathered from its broad discussion to raise funds to provide grants in support of on the ground organizing that supports what we learn. Our hope is to help in any way we can to build a new organizing model for the 21st Century that can help better represent the new American electorate.

We will start with a focus on relationships. The importance of relationships is becoming a point of focus across career fields, not just in organizing. The discussions in the two worlds reflect one another in important ways. In business, the importance of relationships is being stressed over the importance of networking. In organizing, the importance of relationship building is being stressed over the importance of traditional approaches that have often become transactional approaches.

What do we mean by transactional approaches? The traditional “door-to-door-off-voter-list" style organizing has become transactional in some communities because the timeframes of campaigns limit the ability of campaigns to engage beyond 1 or 2 contacts with a voter and the main grab for the campaign in those conversations is an ID of candidate support. This provides support to the campaign but promises little to the community it is engaging.

While traditional style organizing definitely has its place and importance as a crucial face to face contact as a campaign tactic.  It can, however, leave out large swaths of the community who would otherwise engage if a different tactic were used. The swaths of the community that are left behind are often underrepresented groups and this has a lot to do with the use of voter lists as the main driver of voter contact.

Recent dives into the nature of “door-to-door-off-voter-list” have shown that there are serious limitations on the ability of this work to reach beyond our current electorate for example:

In their new publication, the Politically Invisible in America, Simon Jackman and Bradley Spahn explain, “Matching a high-quality, random sample of the U.S. population to multiple lists reveals that at least 11% of the adult citizenry is unlisted. An additional 12% are mis-listed (not living at their recorded address). These groups are invisible to list-based campaigns and research, making them difficult or impossible to contact. 2 in 5 Blacks and (citizen) Hispanics are unreachable, but just 18% of Whites. The unreachable are poorer than the reachable population, have markedly lower levels of political engagement and are much less likely to report contact with candidates and campaigns. They are heavily Democratic in party identification and vote intention, favoring Obama over Romney 73-27, with just 16% identifying as Republicans.”

Looking at these limitations in outreach is where relational organizing comes in to help. Relational organizing can work in tandem with traditional “door-to-door-off-voter-file” organizing to make those programs less transactional in nature and bring deeper and more transformational reaches into the communities at the same time by engaging individuals who haven’t been engaged and historically haven’t been engaged.

Upgraded App, Organizer Dashboard & More

There are a lot of new and existing changes and additions at myRVPlist we’d like to share with you

  • New myRVPlist app - in January we rolled out the new myRVPlist app which is faster, cleaner, more stable, and easier to use.  Thanks to all the users who used it in the spring elections we have gotten great feedback on new features to add and are already working on the next round of updates to roll out in the coming months.  Stay tuned.

  • Empowering Field Organizers

    • We have revamped the field organizer’s workflow within myRVPlist starting with a new dashboard that helps put the important tasks of the day at the field organizer’s finger tips.  By incorporating volunteer management best practices into these workflows, we hope it will result in less training time for organizations to bring new staff up to speed and increase productivity among staff.

    • It is now easier than ever for a field organizer to manage their own personal RVP List while also managing their volunteers.  Field organizer no longer need a separate login to have a personal list, they can manage their own list straight from their field organizer dashboard.

  • Recruiting and Onboarding Volunteers is now easier - There are now even more ways to bring volunteers into the system with less effort.  Each organization now has their own “Committee Code” which can be shared with new volunteers so they can easily sign-up within the app on the spot without requiring a field organizer to create a login for them.  Need help getting this set up for your organization? Let us know.

  • More Customizations to make myRVPlist match your organization’s branding - You can now change the terminology used within the site, such as changing what “RVP Leaders”, “Voters”, and “RVP List” are called.  You can also upload your organization’s logo to be displayed in the menu bar and even create a custom login screen to display your organization’s logo and background image.

  • Suggesting Nearby Targets -  Not only can your volunteers import in their own phone contacts or come up with their own names, now your campaign can suggest potential people to add to their brainstormed list based on where the volunteer lives.  For example, myRVPlist can let the volunteer know their next door neighbor isn’t registered to vote or is a high priority campaign target and suggest the volunteers add their neighbor to their list.

We are hard at work on building out the next round of features users have requested and will have more exciting news to share next month.  As always, if you have questions on how to use any new features or if you have suggestions on other things we can add to make your experience better, let us know!


We are super proud to get a positive review from ACRONYM. The testimonials from our clients couldn’t make us more proud.

Super Great! MyRVP is the OG. Working with organizations doing this stuff since 2011, they are the most knowledgeable about the program and how to most effectively maximize your results. The app, both web and mobile applications are great to use and the team involved understands that at the heart of relational organizing is relationships. They know and train the importance of work in the field, and how to build power within communities. They have experience using Relational Organizing in all the aspects of the work, electoral, voter registration, grassroots lobbying, and what’s more, they understand that Relational Organizing is really flexible. They know it will work differently in each organization and within different communities. They can help you build the program that’s right for you.

Celebrating good work: Voces de la Frontera

In a Trump administration Latino voters are under attack.  There are countless reasons not to vote: ICE, photo ID and hateful rhetoric are just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why in 2018, one of the organizations we were most proud to work with was Voces de la Frontera.

Voces de la Frontera became the poster-child of what OEP could bring to groups across the country if Relational Organizing were done the right way.  After receiving late money, they began implementing an RO program in September and spent several weeks struggling to get it off the ground. Our team spent the month of September coordinating the design of the program with Voces making sure that the specific challenges of their community could be met in the overwhelming timelines of a campaign funding cycle  - without that intense level of support they likely would have simply given up and attempted to revisit it after the election. However, once the planning and training took hold, they were able to recruit 5,881 voters in one month and truly begin to flex their muscle as a small but important community organizing institution.  One of the districts they did work in, Assembly District 8 historically has the lowest turnout in Wisconsin.

Turnout showed amazing improvement in 2018 with an increase over the 2014 elections of 31.2%. Moving forward, Voces intends to use RO on a year round basis to organize around everything from threats to the community from ICE to local community building events and legislative accountability activities.  After cycles of largely being funded to do last-minute Latino paid canvasses, they finally have an organizing technique that compliments their goal to expand their power and reach further in to the community they serve.

Analyst Institute Study: For Our Future Wisconsin Relational Voting Program Evaluation

In 2016 our partner, For Our Future worked with Analyst Institute to measure the effectiveness of relational organizing on increasing turnout. Their Wisconsin program successfully leveraged volunteers’ pre-existing relationships with friends and family to get out the vote.

The results showed that Relational Organizing with MyRVPlist has a 5.9% impact on lower and middle propensity voters, a 6.9% impact on younger voters and a 7.7% impact on voters of color.

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Our team is extremely proud of these results, they mimic what we saw in 2011 and 2012, and we are excited for the opportunity to share these tactics with future partners.