While the global pandemic has disrupted many aspects of life, the need to give back to the community and help others remains just as strong. Even at work, individuals continue to seek opportunities to contribute to causes they care about. In fact, with the support of their companies, employees are finding ways to volunteer despite COVID-19 and its accompanying social distancing measures. These past few months, such volunteering has included mobilizing voters to exercise their right.
Encouraging Citizens to Vote
In October 2020, as part of their Week of Service, Lumen Technologies partnered with the nonprofit Open Progress to encourage citizens in the state of Arizona to vote. They used Visit.org’s platform to find volunteers who could assist them in this endeavor.
This remote experience was a non-partisan effort to get as many people as possible to participate in the November 3 election. The purpose was to educate Arizona citizens about the voting process, deadlines, resources to get information, polling locations, as well as operational hours.
By the end of the one hour volunteering experience, Lumen employees sent over 72,000 voter education texts to people in the critical state of Arizona. Representatives from the nonprofit described the team as “Our most successful group to date.”
Reaching Thousands From the Comfort and Safety of Home
With virtual volunteering opportunities, mobilizing the electorate has never been simpler. Representing Visit.org at the volunteer experience, I was able to work with the Lumen Technologies team in making an impact on Arizona voters. Here’s how we did it.
Sending the texts
From the comfort of our own homes, we volunteers sent text messages, using an app called TextOut, to Arizona constituents, encouraging them to participate in the election. The app created a streamlined process for contacting people, and eliminated time-consuming steps including having to find information and draft messages. In fact, it took only a few minutes of hitting the send button to spread our group’s virtual flyers to people across Arizona.
Although there was no face-to-face interaction with the people we were contacting, the human connection was palpable through the written messages .
Replying to the texts
In addition to sending messages, we were tasked with answering any possible responses. Once again, the app had templates readily available for all sorts of responses. Volunteers simply had to pick the most relevant one and continue the conversation.
Notably, none of the volunteers in our group encountered any conflicts with the non-partisan messaging. Our conversations involved thanking recipients for voting, agreeing to vote, and encouraging their friends, relatives, and neighbors to vote. Occasionally, we apologized to those who felt we were invading their privacy, those whose numbers had changed, and those who had moved.
Again, all of these precise and articulate messages were pre-drafted in the app. Because of the ease of responding to people in a warm and respectful manner, some of us continued talking to our responders beyond what was required!
Reflecting on the Experience
After the activity, Lumen’s employee volunteers shared how they had each come away with a broader and deeper understanding of voting and what it takes to engage others with the process. Some even noted a newfound respect for those behind similar unsolicited text messages. But overwhelmingly, the group felt proud about making an impact for the greater good of their community and their country.
“I feel so American!” said one employee, who was brimming with joy over spreading awareness about, and working for, a social cause. Her sentiments were echoed by the group. Even the most timid and unsure smiles at the beginning of the activity transformed into satisfied and content ones.
Although the experience lasted only an hour, a few Lumen employees continued to volunteer throughout the day. Even I couldn’t ignore the responses that were in the queue. Interestingly, it was this digital and remote experience that had made us keenly aware of the human being on the other end of the line.