Tips For a Successful Canvassing Program

Advocating or campaigning for a person or cause during election season can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many voters to reach, but canvassing with NationBuilder is the perfect solution.

Advocating or campaigning for a person or cause during election season can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many voters to reach, but canvassing is the perfect solution.

But canvassing requires a lot of time and effort. If done wrong, it can lead to your candidate losing an election. That’s why every effective campaign needs an effective canvassing program.

So, here are some tips to create a successful campaign program to reach voters.

How Does Canvassing Work

Canvassing is all about making direct contact with voters, especially during political elections. Communication is the key to make canvassing successful. Door-to-door and phone are the standards for effective canvassing programs.

Door-to-Door Canvassing

Going from door-to-door talking about politics can be awkward with anyone especially when approaching voters. So, here are some do’s and don’ts for door-to-door canvassing.


  • Knock on doors between 9 am-9 pm.
  • Go to neighborhoods where political canvassers aren’t included in their “No peddlers/solicitors” list.
  • Canvassing neighborhoods where there are no visible restriction signs are the best option.
  • Remember to speak politely and ask if a person is interested in talking about your candidate/campaign.
  • Share campaign literature in person or leave it near the door.
  • Record your interaction by entering it into NationBuilder's built in walk-sheets. NationBuilder allows you to easily track all points of contact with your supporters.


  • Try not to approach people at odd hours.
  • Never approach houses that include political canvassers in their “No Soliciting” signs.
  • Don’t enter properties with a “No Trespassers” or “No Canvassers” sign.
  • Never be pushy if asked to leave by a resident.
  • Never leave campaign literature in mailboxes.

Phone Canvassing

Calling or texting voters during an election is the best for interacting with supporters and asking them to vote for you. Telephone canvassing is all about engaging in detailed conversations with supporters.

Using a TCPA Compliant dialer that enables manual (but fast) dialing.

Using Phone Banking tools allow you to send follow up texts as needed and add numbers to a separate list.

Text canvassing is built around text blasts or peer-to-peer text messages with previously engaged voters.

Setting up an SMS opt-in campaign before text canvassing.

Make sure your messages are more conversational while providing relevant details to voters.

Use a text-messaging tool to help draft templates for uniformity across all messages. 

Canvassing Tips for Political Campaigns

Now that the formalities are out of the way, here are some tips for successful canvassing. 

Set your objectives

Before your program starts, set the tone by plotting out your goals and strategies.

  • Gather information on voters
  • Raise awareness about an issue/candidate
  • Persuade undecided voters
  • Convince supporters to vote
  • Adapting your canvassing script and walk lists

Find your volunteer count

Before you start with your canvassing efforts, you will need to recruit an adequate number of volunteers. To get your volunteer count, you need to know:

  1. How many doors you will be knocking on?
  2. How many hours you have?
  3. Volunteer count = (No. of doors)/(20 x No. of hours)

Determine your budget

Political canvassing, like any campaign, needs a fiscal budget to fulfill its mission. Here are some questions to determine what the costs will:

  • Are your volunteers going to be handing out flyers?
  • Will they be wearing campaign merchandise like shirts, pins, and stickers?
  • Do you need to provide transportation to volunteers?
  • Will they be using software tools?

Use Smart Tools

NationBuilder has a strong set of smart tools that allow you to print walk-sheets, enter data, and keep track of who you contacted, when, and their responses. These tools make it easy to build long standing relationships with your potential supporters, donors, and voters.

Train your volunteers

Training your volunteers is important for a successful canvassing campaign. Giving some insight into your objectives is needed so here’s what to go over:

  1. The main talking points for the campaign
  2. The designated area they are canvassing
  3. How to answer questions from constituencies
  4. Splitting into teams for canvassing
  5. Where and where not to place campaign literature
  6. Keeping notes while canvassing
  7. The tools they will be using

At this point, you can host a mock canvassing session before the big day. You might also want to provide them with the necessary campaign literature (flyers, posters, brochures, and signs) for your door-to-door canvassing.

Follow up with the voters you contact

After volunteers have finished canvassing the area, you’ll want them to reach out to voters leading up to the election. Checking in with voters on the contact list is crucial for an effective campaign. NationBuilder makes it easy with their native voter and supporter tracking tools! Here are some follow-up contact methods:

  • Calls – make calls to voters in the final weeks leading up to the election.
  • Texts – send out peer-to-peer messages with polling information.
  • Email – send out mass emails as reminders to vote or asking for campaign donations.

Canvassing for political elections can be effective if you have the right plan and strategy to get your message out.


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