One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed with campaigns is each seems to develop their own systems and formats for capturing the valuable data they gather from donors, volunteers, social networks, etc. A staffer on the field team may have a spreadsheet they built that’s unique to their needs, while the finance team has a database that is suitable for them, and then vendors who rely on their own methods to deliver the results of their services.
While those in each of the aforementioned segments of a campaign are often able to use these solutions to do their jobs without any problems, after Election Day many simply forget about their data, or don’t format it so that it’s easily understood by others. This means that each cycle campaigns across the country, of all sizes, are just throwing away tons of data.
If we got to a point where everyone pulled and fed data from and to the same source in a uniform fashion, we would get to a point where our voter files are not only more complete and up-to-date, but also put us position where our campaigns can allocate more resources towards getting out the vote, instead of having to spend copious amount of money figuring out who to contact with what message.
However, I don’t think the solution is as simple as saying we just need a system like Catalist to achieve this goal. That only addresses one part of the problem. We need to implement a business mentality with our campaigns, provide staff with best practices, and encourage senior staff to demand that they are followed.
With a central (asynchronous) database and a commitment to best practices for data collection and retention, I’m confident that we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
Thomas Keeley is the owner of Keeley Company, LLC is full-service interactive media consulting company