I realized as I composed Part II and as I answered questions to Part I, that there was really no way of doing this without getting folks on the same page with me as far as the Online Management System. Because, I think it is key to running a great grassroots campaign for a couple reasons.
• It makes it cheap.
• It centralizes the campaign
• It allows for quick interaction with the constituency, the state, the county, and other campaigns.
• It provides instant fundraising ability.
• It provides an instant method of signing up volunteers on the spot into a state-wide database that can then be used by the NCDP.
So, what does an Online Campaign System do?
First off, it is a completely browser-driven system that allows you to manage every aspect of your campaign, other than shaking hands, securely online from any computer. It allows you to have multiple people accessing the inner workings of your campaign with different levels of access or “My Pages”, for instance a Treasurer, a Communications Director, and a Field Director. There are a whole suite of products that can be added, but these are the ones that I see as most important.
• Content Management. You need a really great website. With a centralized system you could have a series of generic templates that you can make your own. Go try the Blogger beta if you want to see what I am talking about. Their new model makes it so simple to design a webpage. I say give people a couple different options then teach them to upload photos and to paste text into the bios/positions/etc. Every candidate could have something like this, instead of something like this (sorry Bill). This part of the tool also includes all those little things like site search, calendars, blah blah blah.
• Communication Management. Even an underdog could have a great communications setup with the right template. I envision something that allows the campaign to send out emails, press releases, interviews, letters, pamphlets, mailers, thank you cards, the whole deal. These kinds of products already exist, this is nothing new.
• Contribution Management. There are a couple ways of doing this. In the best case scenario, there would be a centralized giving apparatus like ActBlue has only here in NC, just for the NCDP. But, in reality, why not just put a dedicated page with one of those little ActBlue giving scripts? On the other end, everything to do with finances should be managed through the online system as much as possible.
• Volunteer Management. I’m going to stick to the facts, since I will be expanding on this in Part II. A state-wide database of contacts and volunteers. The database will have virtual partitions to allow candidates to call up only the volunteers and activists they signed up. But, the state party will be able to access the entire database for its 15 day GOTV program.
• CRM. Which, based on your take of CRM might be redundant or might be the glue that holds it all together, or whatever. From wikipedia: Customer relationship management (CRM) covers methods and technologies used by companies to manage their relationships with clients. Information stored on existing customers (and potential customers) is analyzed and used to this end. Automated CRM processes are often used to generate automatic personalized marketing based on the customer information stored in the system.
So, that’s it. That’s part I.5. A centralized Online Campaign System set up by the party, for the party. Now, if the party doesn't feel up to this or they don't feel like they want to participate. Then, by all means, we should do this ourselves. For instance, the BlueNC website could have all of these functions integrated through shareware, which could be made available to highly progressive candidates in every NC district. We would lose the higher-order databasing, but c'est la vie.
As for cost, this system could be "purchased" by those candidates who are already elected and running for office. Also, the winner of the Presidential primary could "purchase" the volunteer contact list for GOTV efforts, to be coordinated with NCDP. There are other ways of paying for this, but those are a few ideas.
Also, just let me say that THIS POST is the chance for all my fellow technoweanies to jump in and make corrections and suggestions. My technoweanie side tends towards science and not computers and databases, I have just enough background to be dangerous. So, please, jump in, make suggestions or corrections. All comments welcome - good or bad.