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How to be a Relational Organizer

March 2, 2020 / By Vanessa Mbonu

With election campaigns upon us, you may have heard the term “Relational Organizing” being used by everyone from grassroots organizations to presidential candidates. It’s not exactly a new term, in fact, it’s used to describe something you do all the time: talking to people you know personally and persuading them to take an action on something.

We’re much more likely to do something if we’re convinced to do so by a friend or loved one than by a person we don’t know at all. For this reason, we should all be relational organizers.

Imagine what would happen if each person who voted in the 2016 presidential election convinced one of their friends who sat home to vote? Now imagine if they were able to convince five friends who would have normally abstained from voting to vote. Our current political climate would likely look drastically different than it does now because more Americans would have had a say in our democracy.

In 2020, we want to get closer to that reality, not just in the elections, but also with the Census. It all begins by empowering as many people as we can to be relational organizers, and we’re starting with you.

Conversation Guides

Talking to your friends and family about politics may seem like a daunting task, but we’ve got news for you – it doesn’t have to be so hard. Just remember these three prompts, “Open, Question, Action” and the conversation will flow naturally.

Here’s an example:

Think of a person in your contact list who is unlikely to vote and send them a text.

First text: “Hey.”

Second: “Do you know who you’re voting for in November?”

Third: “I actually just checked to make sure I was registered, at vote.org. You should, too.”

It’s an opening, it’s a question, and then it’s an action. In just three simple texts, you’ve begun a much-needed dialogue with a person who has the ability to make a difference.

This method can be used to urge people to complete the Census as well.  While coverage of the election dominates our newsfeeds, the Census is not always at the forefront of people’s minds. This is especially unsettling because unlike voting, everyone who lives in the U.S. is eligible to #BeCounted regardless of age or citizenship status.

Here’s how you can start the conversation about the Census.

Open the last group chat you received a message in and send them a text.

First text“Hey.”

Second“Did you know Census Day is April 1, and that we can fill out the Census online this year?”

Third: “I actually just signed up to be reminded to complete the form, at 2020Census. You should, too.”

A text is all that stands between you and becoming a relational organizer, and if texting isn’t your thing, try calling, or even sending a postcard. When it comes to exercising our democratic rights, there should be no excuses. We all have the power to activate our networks, it’s time we begin to use it.