A heartfelt handwritten note can make an impact!
- Campaigns and grassroots groups are producing handwritten postcards to voters, encouraging them to vote or to vote for a particular candidate.
- Postcards are an easy way for people to reach out to voters in swing districts across the country.
Do they work?
Postcards can be very effective in influencing voters. One study shows that handwritten, personalized postcards sent to women who are occasional voters as part of a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort increased turnout by 1.4% over a control group
Postcards are a great way to energize volunteers. Volunteers enjoy postcard parties. They are easy to organize, they can be a nice social occasion, and they provide the satisfaction of accomplishment.
Postcarding is a great introduction to activism. Postcarding parties provides exposure to a community and encourages the activist to grow comfortable with other activities that have a greater impact, such as canvassing, texting and phone calling.
Preparing for your postcarding project
- First, select the postcarding provider and the campaign that you want to work on. There are many postcarding providers, so feel free to explore to find the one that will inspire your group. You can start by looking at the action kits for several current postcarding projects posted here: postcarding and direct mail action kits.
- When you reach out to the postcarding provider you’d like to support, you will be asked how many addresses you want. You can estimate that based on the number of volunteers you have and how much time each one is likely to spend. A typical volunteer will complete 15-20 postcards in 2 hours.
- The postcard provider will send you by email a script and a list of the names and addresses that you will send postcards to. Some campaigns and groups will prefer to send you their pre-printed postcards to personalize. Most of the time you will be providing the stamps and postcards.
- Some campaigns will ask that you send back the postcards with stamps on them so that they can be mailed from the district. Others will have you mail them yourself. Be sure to ask about that, so you know that to prepare for.
Recruiting for your postcarding party
- Pick a date, time and location for your party. All you need is a well lit location with a kitchen or dining room table. You may also have a friendly coffee shop in your neighborhood where people would like to gather. You can postcard in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening any day of the week. The times can be flexible.
- Invite 10-15 friends, group members, neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask new people. People are frustrated with our political climate right now and are eager to find outlets for positive change. Writing postcards is a very easy first step.
- Advertise widely. Post it on your group and personal Facebook page. Include it in your newsletters. Email your friends and neighbors.
- Always ask people for a commitment to come to the specific location on the specific date at the specific time. Let people know they can come for just an hour, or stay for two if you want to extend the time.
- Send a reminder the day before the event. Remember to include the time and place again. Let people know it is OK to bring a friend or two.
Making the most effective postcard
- Handwritten, personalized postcards work dramatically better than pre-printed form postcards.
- Make sure you get a script from the campaign and share that with your volunteers. Postcard-writers should use that script to create personalized messages.
- It helps to provide your volunteers with an info sheet that describes the candidate or the issue that you are working on, and the mission of the postcarding project. You can often find that on the website of the postcard provider.
- Have enough pens, markers, highlighters, and colored pencils for everyone.
- Make sure you know if you are mailing the postcards or sending them back to the provider for them to mail.
- If the campaign doesn’t supply postcards, and you need to purchase them in advance, we recommend the 4×6 cards that are lined on one side. (The post office only sells blank 3×5 cards. You can find the 4×6 lined cards at Staples or another store.)
- Expect to purchase enough postcard stamps for the list. The post office sells rolls of 100.
- Encourage the more creative volunteers to have fun but emphasize the importance of the script.
- Make the party a social event. Have refreshments, take the time to discuss the campaign, have people share their best postcards.
- Work to build community in the group. Warmly welcome every writer and thank each writer when they leave. Ask seasoned writers if they would be willing to sit with new writers. Introduce new writers to the group and point out a seasoned writer who can answer any questions.
The postcarding organizations listed below are a few of those offering postcarding opportunities. Postcarding organizations may offer one or more campaign and may not always have campaigns available so it is a good idea to be familiar with several organizations from which to obtain work. Our Postcarding Action Kits will help you get started with some of these organizations. They are available by clicking links under Getting Started below.
Visit any of the Postcarding Action Kits linked below for information about individual postcarding providers and the steps to get started: