Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)
- How was VIVA born?
Founders Bill Mauk and Daniel Lopez worked together on constituency outreach at the Howard Dean presidential campaign in 2004. During the Democratic Primary, we saw firsthand the power of the Internet for fundraising and organizing activities. In the Dean campaign alone, over 700,000 people signed up to be on the email lists, and over 300,000 people contributed money, with an average donation of less than $80 per person. This all happened by February -- nine months before Election Day.
Internet-based tools have proven to be effective for creating a large and vocal community of supporters and for raising substantial funds, but nobody has yet harnessed the energy of those supporters to participate in the concrete productive activities of voter outreach and GOTV. In Dean's case, we were in contact with thousands of supporters who were eager to be utilized, but there was simply no effective way of absorbing and managing the massive number of volunteers spread throughout the country.
After the Dean campaign ended, we started VIVA Democracy to apply some of the lessons we learned to future campaigns. Over the last 3 years, we have developed cutting-edge technology tools and tightened our strategic understanding of how to use those tools to help win elections.
- Is VIVA right for my campaign?
VIVA has been designed to be used by any group that engages in field operations and has a substantial number of volunteers, including:
- State Parties
- Candidate campaigns at the national, state, or congressional levels
- Large issue and advocacy groups
Different groups will weigh the various benefits of the system differently. State parties and issue/advocacy groups will particularly benefit from VIVA's efforts to maintain long-term relationships with voters over time. Large-scale campaigns, such as presidential campaigns, will benefit from the tremendous reach VIVA enables, but campaigns down to the size of a congressional district could also gain great competitive advantages by deploying unprecedented numbers of volunteers in a focused geographical area.
If you've got a lot of ground to cover, then VIVA can help you cover it! Almost all of our work so far has been in senatorial and gubernatorial races in these large states: California, Florida, and Virginia.
(The fixed costs of setting up and administering the system make it less economical for use in smaller, local campaigns, such as the mayoral level.)
If you're a high profile campaign, perhaps in a particularly competitive or passionate race, then VIVA can be of particular help to you in absorbing and managing the huge numbers of people who will want to participate in your campaign.
And of course, we don't only cater to individual campaigns; we also work with non-profit and other organizations who share some of the same characteristics described above.
- How much does VIVA cost?
The cost can vary depending on the scope of the campaign and the kinds of things you're trying to do. For congressional and small state campaigns, the ballpark estimate is around the same monthly cost as hiring a single staffer--though the value you get is well more than what a single staffer could do for you. In addition to an enterprise-class hosted technology solution, our basic package includes consulting advice and services that are based on our years of experience running these kinds of large-scale field campaigns.
The cost for larger statewide campaigns can be up to three times this cost, but the benefits of VIVA to these campaigns are more than proportionately superior, as VIVA allows these field operations to grow to truly match the scale of your state.
- Who competes with VIVA?
While the idea of online phone-banking is not unique to VIVA, as far as we've seen, nobody else offers such a mature package of features and services that we do. A few of the 2004 presidential campaigns had comparable in-house attempts in this space, but none of them came even close to matching the breadth and maturity of VIVA's product.
Traditional voterfile systems, while often web-based, were not designed to be publicly facing, which has a number of critical influences on the security, user interface design, and scalability of those systems. As a result, we don't consider these traditional voterfile systems to be competitive to VIVA, and in fact, most of our past clients have used both of us at the same time for different purposes. That said, we have had clients who were unable to afford both and used VIVA as its sole voter database system.
We have a lot of respect for the open-source tool, Advokit. While the software is technically free, keep in mind that someone still needs to host it and provide technical and strategic support. For local campaigns smaller than what makes sense for VIVA, you may wish to evaluate it.
- Once we commit, what is the launch process like?
Usually, the primary bottleneck to launching the system is obtaining and importing a high-quality voter database. VIVA isn't in the business of supplying voter data, but if you don't already have access to a voterfile, we can help you find an appropriate source.
The process of importing the database can vary depending on the quality of the data from one working day up to a week.
Most importantly, we need to coordinate with your staff to determine targeting and messaging, workflows for handling user support, integration with your website and other tools, marketing and press strategy, and other issues. To ensure the best results for the project, there should be at least one full-time person on your staff managing the project and acting as a day-to-day liaison with us.
If you can organize things quickly within your organization, it's often possible to have a soft launch ready in as fast as a week!
- Does VIVA manage mass-mailings, create campaign websites, supervise blogs, etc.?
Rather than offer a kitchen sink of products and services at a mediocre level, VIVA has chosen to focus on what we do better than anyone else: online tools for offline voter outreach. We're happy to do custom development to better integrate VIVA with your other tools, and if you don't have existing providers for your other campaign needs, we can refer you to some partners that we've worked with in the past.
- Can I get a demo?
We have online demo videos available on request. We can also do a remote walk-through of the system if needed.
- Read this FAQ.
- Request access to our online demo videos.
- Discuss your needs with us, and request a proposal and quote.