Why we built VisitThem.org
Personal stories are what drives our movements. They change hearts, minds and policy.
But getting the people who need to hear those stories to listen is hard. Calls get pushed to voicemail, emails filtered. When tough issues come up, too often our leaders dismiss us as noise.
But it’s hard to ignore a person standing in your office, telling you about their life and asking for your help.
Thats why we built VisitThem.org.
So your members can speak and be heard. So they can deliver their personal stories to their lawmakers directly. So they can refuse to be ignored.
VisitThem.org helps organizations facilitate in-person conversations between their members and their elected representatives. We can help you move your members to participate in hundreds of simultaneous district office visits and congressional town halls.
We built this tool because we believe that heartfelt and personal stories, told face-to-face, are impossible for our leaders to ignore. We also believe that members of an organization meeting up to act in-person builds the sort of strong communal bonds that we’ll need to survive the Trump era.
Asking members to visit local offices and events is not necessarily a new tactic, but prior to Trump’s election, organizations most often held it in reserve for the most high-energy moments. Getting members to show up in person is a high-bar ask, especially as compared to petitions or phone calls, and there hasn’t been a good focus on good software to support it.
One of the upsides of our dire new reality is that supporters have shown that they’re willing to do extraordinary things to defend progressive values. VisitThem.org is built to harness that energy and help individuals and organizations build a habit of local mobilization.
With President Obama’s Affordable Care Act under threat, it’s poetic that VisitThem.org makes possible a tactic that I first worked on to push for healthcare reform during the summer of 2009. At the time, I led Organizing for America’s Innovation Lab where our small team rapidly iterated on digital advocacy tactics to push for the President’s agenda. We built ways for members to call congress and talk-radio stations, to generate tweet-storms and tell their story online — but the two tactics from that fight which seemed to have the most impact were attending town-halls and dropping by district offices to share our stories with the staff there.
Some advocacy organizations arrange for a handful of members to travel to lobby in DC and many ask their members to call their representatives, but until now organizing in-person visits from constituents across the country has been impossible for most advocacy organizations to pull off. The logistics and data collection required to organize visits to thousands of local offices or to catalog a central calendar of town-hall events has been out of reach. Our mission is to make these tactics easy: both for you and your members.
We’ve been excited to work with United We Dream as a beta partner. The campaign they ran with us this spring resulted in hundreds of in-person conversations between their members and congressional staff.
We’re just getting started and are very interested in feedback and ideas from the community about how you would like to see VisitThem.org improve going forward or new ways groups would like to use our data.
We can’t wait to see the campaigns you launch and the voices you elevate.