How to host a letter writing party with Swing Left
Thank you for hosting a letter writing party! Writing letters to voters is one of the most effective tactics to increase voter turnout in our target states, and bringing people in your community together to write letters as a group is a great way to multiply your impact. This guide contains everything you need to host your own letter writing party, and you can always email our team at [email protected] for support.
Before your letter writing party
We recommend getting started with planning and preparation at least seven days before your party to be as successful as possible.
Choose your location
The first step to hosting your party is to choose a date, time, and location. You should consider what works best for the volunteers you plan to invite to your letter writing party.
Decide whether you plan to host your letter writing party virtually or in person. If you host virtually, set up your party and create a link on a virtual platform such as Zoom. If you host in person, follow our COVID-19 event guidance to keep your volunteers and community safe. You can host a letter writing party almost anywhere, as long as there is enough space for your volunteers and something to write on. Locations to consider include public places like libraries or coffee shops, outdoor locations like parks, or in your home.
Set up your party on Mobilize
Once you have confirmed a date and time for your party, post your event on Mobilize so you can promote your event, track RSVPs, and easily communicate with attendees. This Mobilize guide will walk you through the process.
Include instructions for how to prepare for your party in the description. If you are hosting your party virtually, volunteers will need to create their own accounts at votefwd.org/swingleft and follow these instructions to download and print their letter templates before the party. Note: It can take up to 48 hours for volunteers to be approved on Vote Forward, so you should contact your volunteers at least two days before your party to remind them to create their accounts and double check that they know how to download and print their letters.
Now you should ask people to sign up for your party! Invite your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, local group members, and anyone you know who would be interested in increasing voter turnout and strengthening our democracy in a fun and easy way. You can invite them in person or send emails, texts, or whatever communication method works best for you. Another way to recruit volunteers is to share your invitation on social media, or posting or handing out flyers in high traffic areas in your community like your local coffee shop, grocery store, or park.
A great way to engage your attendees even more is to ask them to help plan the party. It can make hosting the party easier for you, and people are more likely to follow through when they are part of the planning process! You could ask them to help with volunteer recruitment or training, promotional materials for email and social media, or, for in-person parties, help purchasing snacks or letter writing materials to share with attendees. Use these digital graphics to promote your event!
Print letter templates and gather supplies
Before your party, you need to print your letter templates and gather the supplies. The best process for this depends on if you are hosting virtually or in-person.
For in-person parties, we recommend that the host downloads and prints letter templates for the attendees. Multiply the number of people you expect to attend your party by 20 to determine the total number of voters you should adopt through your Vote Forward account, then download and print your letters. Each attendee will also need 20 business-sized envelopes, 20 stamps, and blue pens. You can prepare these materials for your party or ask your attendees to bring them.
For virtual parties, each attendee will need to download and print their own letter templates. You should include the sign-up link and these instructions in your Mobilize event description. Remember, it can take up to 48 hours for volunteers to be approved on Vote Forward, so at least two days before, please remind attendees to create their accounts and double check that they know how to download and print their letters.
The day before or on the day of your party, you should remind everyone to attend and how to join your party! Mobilize sends automatic reminders by email and text, but a personalized check-in from you can increase the number of people who follow through and write letters with you.
During your letter writing party
Make a copy of this sample slide presentation to edit and use during your party.
Welcome your volunteers
Greet each person as they arrive and welcome them. Take note of who joins your party so that you can thank and follow up with them later; at in-person parties, use this sign-in sheet.
Do your best to be inclusive and connect with guests, whether you are virtual or in-person. At in-person parties, introduce people to each other and ask questions to get to know your attendees. At virtual parties, give everyone the chance to briefly introduce themselves, or use breakout rooms for small group conversations.
Train volunteers to write letters
Next, demonstrate the letter writing process! You can use the this sample slide presentation and letter writing instructions to help prepare your training and walk your attendees through the process.
Help your volunteers avoid some common errors:
- Each letter is personalized for each voter—they should look at the name and address at the bottom of the letter to make sure they are writing to the correct voter. We recommend waiting to seal the envelopes until the end and checking that they are correct.
- Volunteers don’t need to use their own return address—they can write their first name, last initial, and "Vote Forward."
- Personal messages must be nonpartisan—volunteers should not mention specific parties or candidates. Positive, heartfelt messages work best. Give volunteers time to write their messages on scratch paper or share their messages with the group.
Write letters together
Now, it’s time to write letters together! Get creative with making your letter writing party fun:
- Volunteers can chat and enjoy each other’s company while writing letters. Use breakout rooms during virtual parties for small group discussions.
- Host a watch party for a movie, tv show, documentary, or events like political debates
- Listen to music during your party.
- Choose a theme for your party, such as a holiday, and use costumes and decorations for your theme.
- Challenge your attendees to a trivia competition.
- Pick a fun venue like a playground if your volunteers have young children, or a beer garden for a 21+ event.
Be available for questions in case your volunteers need help, and remind them to check that their letters are addressed to the correct voter before sealing and stamping their envelopes.
Thank volunteers for coming
At the end of your party, take the time to do a short closing. If you downloaded and printed the letter templates, collect the finished letters and verify that all of the letters are accounted for. If your volunteers downloaded and printed their own letter templates, remind them to mark their letters as “Prepared” on Vote Forward, store their letters in a safe place, and set a reminder for the mail date.
Thank your volunteers for joining your party and remind them how their letters will make a real impact. Invite everyone to attend your next letter writing party and ask them to sign up before they leave!
After your letter writing party
Store your letters until the mail date
After your letters are completed, go back to your Vote Forward dashboard and mark them as “Prepared.” Add the mail date to your calendar or set a reminder, and store your letters in a safe and memorable place until the mail date. If your volunteers downloaded and printed their own letter templates, remind them to do the same.
Send a follow-up email to attendees
Go back to your Mobilize dashboard to update your attendance. Then, send an email to everyone who joined your party to thank them again for coming, remind them what to do with their letters if they downloaded and printed their own, and invite them to your next letter writing party. You can also email everyone who didn’t attend to say you missed seeing them at your party and invite them to your next one.
Celebrate your impact on social media
Show everyone how fun letter writing parties can be! Share photos or anecdotes from your party on social media and tag or mention @swingleft and @votefwd so that we can amplify your posts.
Send a reminder before the mail date
Before the mail date, remind all of your volunteers who downloaded and printed their own letter templates to get ready to put their letters in the mail or bring them to the post office on the correct day! This is another great opportunity to thank them for volunteering and share photos to celebrate your impact. After your letters are in the mail, you or your volunteers should mark your letters as 'Sent' on your Vote Forward dashboard.
And that’s it! You successfully hosted your letter writing party. Thank you for being part of increasing voter turnout and strengthening democracy with us—we couldn’t do this without dedicated volunteer leaders like you!