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Working Washington & Center for Popular Democracy: Partner to Test Donor Recruitment

Working Washington is a statewide workers' organization that fights to raise wages, improve labor standards, and change the conversation about wealth, inequality, and the value of work. In 2020, they started working with the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), an advocacy group that promotes progressive politics, and together, the two organizations used a grant from Progressive Multiplier to experiment with the use of social media advertising and peer-to-peer SMS messaging to recruit new members and donors. 

The pilot program's goal, which ran over six months in two phases, was to engage contacts and garner support for Working Washington’s campaigns for Worker Justice and COVID-19 pandemic relief for unemployed workers. The first phase included a series of Facebook ads driving to a pledge form that would allow the organizing team to follow up with a call and an ask to donate or become a dues-paying member. In the second phase, organizers sent peer-to-peer text messages to almost 150,000 voters in Washington, sharing their campaign to support unemployed workers. The text also asked for permission for a follow-up phone call that would include a request for donation, similar to the first phase.  

Cost per acquisition was high in the first phase and produced very few new donors, especially after Facebook took action to limit political ads. The second phase yielded better results: Although the cost per acquisition was unsustainable in the long term, Working Washington felt they could lower it with improved targeting and messaging. 

Contact rates from the phone calls were high — 28% and 31%, respectively, for phase one and phase two, which was stronger than most of the phone banks Working Washington had conducted in the past. The campaign resulted in 49 one-time gifts and 34 recurring monthly donations. 

Note: This experiment could not be replicated currently due to changes made by major cell phone carriers limiting peer-to-peer messages to voter files. 

The mission of Working Washington is to build a powerful workers’ movement that can dramatically improve wages and working conditions and change the local and national conversation about wealth, inequality, and the value of work.