About the Program — Key Concepts

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Voter Data is Automatically Loaded into your Account

Configuring your Account

Contacting Voters

Permissioning Access to Specific Users

The Contact Database

Events, Volunteer People, Shifts




The PDI is a very large program with many functions. While no single campaign or organization uses every part of the program, we highly recommend taking the time to learn enough about the whole system to make smart decisions on how your organization can use it most effectively. This section will highlight the basic features and functionality as well as key program concepts that support the PDI system. The remainder of this manual will provide greater detail and documentation for functionality referenced in this chapter.



Online Access

The PDI can be accessed by any desktop, laptop, or tablet computer with a decent internet connection. The program resides and functions completely on powerful servers accessed via the internet so nothing is actually stored or processed on your local computer device.

There is no downloading or installation process required before accessing your account. Simply go to www.OnlineCampaignTools.com and you will find the program login page to access your account. You will need to enter username and password credentials to successfully get into the program. The PDI runs in a secure, encrypted environment similar to sites that deal with financial or sensitive information. Please make sure you are mindful of any security vulnerabilities related to your computer’s internet connection or shared log in credentials.



Organization / Campaign Accounts

Accounts are created to give campaigns and organizations an independent program environment in which to operate. Accounts are usually limited to a specific geography based on subscription. Each campaign or organization account is created with one administrative level user account. From this original user admin account, you can create additional user accounts for all the people in your organization that require access. Each person using the program should have their own user account so you can track their work and online access. User accounts can be configured to grant different levels of program access based on geography, program functionality, and data access. User accounts have unique user names and passwords. There is no technical limit to the number of user accounts you can create.

Some organization accounts are authorized to create child sub-accounts. The PDI system has a hierarchical infrastructure that allows data and configuration settings to be easily shared between various level accounts within the same parent organization account.



Navigating the PDI

Once you successfully access the PDI, you will arrive at the program’s home page. This page is designed to provide simple navigation through the entire program. The PDI Function icons can be moved and hidden based on your personal preferences. There is also a menu system that allows direct navigation to program pages without using the Home Page.

The PDI system is basically organized by functionality and role-based modules.

  • Lookup – Allows you to search on and view an individual person or contact record. You can also perform some simple data entry functions on an individual basis.
  • Create Universes – Allows you to group and target voters, voting aged persons (VAPS's), and contacts based on a defined common criteria.
  • Create Lists and Files – Allows you to generate canvassing lists and output files containing voters and VAP's defined by a specific Saved Universe.
  • Data Entry – Allows you to quickly and accurately enter data from paper lists.
  • Count Reports – Allow you to analyze the data in your account by processing customizable statistical report layouts.
  • Mapping- Allows you to define custom geographies for targeting and field canvassing. You can also generate field canvassing lists from this page.

Each of these program modules has a specific purpose and functionality common to normal campaign work. Most small campaigns can perform all the necessary work just using these functions.

The remaining modules are role-based and extend beyond a single functionality.

  • Contact Management – This module helps you build a proprietary contact database containing identified registered voters as well as individuals not in your account voter file. This database is typically used for managing volunteers, donors, or membership lists. The unique functionality in this module is limited to importing new contacts records and analyzing the entire contact database.
  • Volunteer Management – This module allows you to effectively recruit and manage individuals in your contact database identified as volunteers or volunteer prospects. The functionality in the module is designed for volunteer recruitment, scheduling, tracking and communications.
  • Donor Management – This module allows you to manage and communicate with individuals in your contact database identified as active donors or donor prospects.
  • Event Management – This module allows you to create events of any kind. All events are posted to Google Calendar and act as the foundation for coordinating volunteer shifts and fundraising efforts.
  • Member Management – This module allows organizations to maintain their membership database within the PDI program environment. Having the ability to easily integrate membership data with the voter file and manage member volunteer work makes this module extremely useful.
  • Phone Canvassing – This module allows phone coordinators to create online phone banks and distribute access links to volunteers likely to make calls on behalf of your campaign or organization. Phone banks can be used for conducting ID surveys, volunteer recruitment, or event attendance confirmation.
  • Voter Registration – This module allows you to input individuals your organization/campaign registers to vote. This data is later matched to the voter fileand flagged in your account.
  • Predictive Dialer – This module is a special add-on feature allowing you to manage a predictive dialer program from the PDI. This module manages the call specifications, transfers data to phone system, and posts response data back into the program.



Voter Data is Automatically loaded into your Account

When you log in to your account for the first time, voter information within your campaign geography will already be loaded for immediate use. As part of your PDI subscription, the voter file will be automatically updated by as new files are available. Mail ballot applied/returned status and polling places will also be automatically loaded for most election cycles within 30 days of the Election Day.  

The PDI also comes with several basic configuration settings for security profiles as well as ID flagging options. By using the default options, initial setup time is faster and easier, and there is continuity between accounts for organizations or consultants working with multiple accounts.



Configuring your Account

The primary reason for using the PDI is to record and maintain information about people your campaign contacts via door-to-door canvassing, phone canvassing, or any other method of direct communication. Think of the PDI as a warehouse for storing information your campaign collects about people in the system, the configuration catalogs map naming conventions and determine the locations for storing your ID data. In other words, the catalogs gently force you to record information using standardized and pre-established data entry options.

If you configure your account well with a clear strategic objective, you will be able to collect more data and access it easily and much faster. Examples of catalogs include contact ID response codes, defined data acquisition methods, survey questions, volunteer preferences, donation preferences, event categories, and many other data entry and account settings.


Contacting Voters

Data from an interaction between your campaign and voters may seem simple enough but can be a bit complicated. Basic disposition IDs such as Support, Undecided, and Oppose have limited meaning by themselves. Campaigns also need to know the exact question asked of the voter, the date and time when recorded, what was the contact method (phone door-to-door), who communicated with the voter, and who entered the ID into the system. If you are part of an organization working on behalf of multiple candidates or ballot measures, you will need to associate each ID response with a specific candidate or ballot measure. Trying to individually enter all of this information for each ID’d voter would time consuming and logistically challenging.

The PDI system uses configurable catalogs to make the data entry process more efficient. The configuration starts with cataloging all candidates and ballot measures associated with your account. The next piece of information is the Response Code or “answers” that you want to record from the voter. The third piece of information is the Source Type that identifies the contact method. Survey Questions then associate a specific question with your predefined answer to give greater meaning. The final step is combining one or more Survey Questions into a Survey.



Permissioning Access to Specific Users

The PDI system can grant permission access to specific users in three ways:

  • User Account Geography – Users can be granted access to only a portion of the overall account geography.
  • Account Functionality – Almost every page, tab, drop down box, list box in the program can be configured to grant or deny functional access. The program bundles these individual permission settings into a Profile that can be assigned to one or more user accounts.
  • Data Access – Access to proprietary data flags and saved universes can be controlled based
    on permission groups. User accounts can be assigned to one or more permission groups. Each response code flag, source type flag, and saved universe can be assigned to one or more permission groups. This process allow data to be quickly and easily permission access without having to reference each user account. You can also set query criteria or saved universe to filter the total universe of people accessible to a specific user account.


The Contact Database

The Contact Database is a separate database in the PDI that is completely independent from the voter database. You start with zero records and assume responsibility for acquiring all data. While your voter database has to reflect the file of legally registered individuals, the contact database may contain individuals who live outside your district or are not registered to vote. You can even enter records for organizations and businesses. There is a lot more flexibility with the contact database and it can become an invaluable data resource for your organization/campaign.

What makes the PDI Contact Database uniquely powerful is the close integration with the PDI voter file. You can run queries combining contact data with voter data and even copy a record from the voter database directly to the Contact Database. The response code flags are accessibly to both databases.

The Contact Database supports several functional modules for volunteer, donor, and membership management. All data related to volunteers, donors, and organization membership is stored in the contact database.


Events, Volunteers, Shifts, and People

The Volunteer Management module is a very powerful tool for campaigns or organizations that recruit, schedule, and manage volunteers. There are two data elements needed to use this module:

  • Individuals in the Contact Database identified as active volunteers or volunteer prospects.
  • Events that have one or more volunteer shifts.

The use of volunteer contacts is easy to understand but the use of event is a little more complicated. Events give the actions of an organization/campaign. An event can be a specific fundraiser, weekend canvass, or just daily operations. When an event is created, you can create volunteer shifts for the event.

Once you define the event and the volunteer shift details, you easily schedule individuals to a shift without having to re-enter the time and activity information. You can also plan and measure volunteer shift needs and goals for more effective recruitment and scheduling.