Groups running legislative or issue-advocacy campaigns on the left that are looking to expand their texting outreach could potentially get a $25,000 boost this fall.
For the first time, Movement Labs is offering a dozen groups up to that amount in peer-to-peer texting (P2P) grants with the goal of helping the recipients identify 5,000 new supporters. In addition to the P2P services, recipients also receive training and support “to prepare the organizations to incorporate texting into future campaigns.”
“This is really about broadening their reach so we’ll be reaching out to voters, whether that’s active or inactive voters,” Shabd Simon-Alexander, advocacy director at Movement Labs, told C&E. “We’ll be targeting folks based on each organization’s desires and needs for their campaigns. So we can reach hundreds of thousands of people in any given area as opposed to a membership list.”
Simon-Alexander said Movement Labs’ pro-bono advocacy program, which like its paid work uses a network of volunteers to send P2P texts and maintain contact with its outreach targets, has been dolling out mini grants to organizations throughout the spring and summer. Now, this is the first time it’s launched such a large-scale funding program.
They’re targeting community groups because the impact will be felt for organizations that often lack the funding or staffing capacity to run texting programs effectively — despite being well positioned to have an impact on legislation. It’s also a chance to close the gap with candidate campaigns as, in many cases, groups are trailing when it comes to the sophistication of their texting outreach programs, according to Simon-Alexander.
“I think that advocacy group and advocacy campaigns are doing an amazing job of reaching out to their membership through texting, but they’re doing that through, the most part, by broadcast text,” she said. “So as an organizer, when I have 60,000 people on an email list, I’ll have maybe 800 of them on a broadcast text list.
“I have, in my work, experienced being able to get funding for get-out-the-vote texting, but not be able to get funding for advocacy texting. By the end of this process, [the recipients] will be able to run a texting campaign on their own, including the data and the strategy, and they won’t need us after that.”
The grants won’t support electoral work, but will provide backing for organizations that want to do voter education, polling, trainings, or event building around legislative advocacy pushes.
The funding for the grants comes from Movement Labs’ work with paying clients. CEO Yoni Landau said more firms should consider providing this kind of support to progressive advocacy groups.
“Practitioners should be willing to take more risk to pursue their mission, saying ‘here are clients or ideas with no money that we think are valuable enough to invest our own resources in,’” Landau said.
Movement Labs isn’t alone on the left in creating a grant program. Last summer, DSPolitical opened up a grant program that gave candidates with few or no staff an award ranging from $500 – $10,000 to place digital ads.
The deadline to apply for Movement Labs’ grant is Aug. 29 at 11:59 p.m. More information is available here.