CiviCRM

What You Need To Know

CiviEngage is designed to manage interactions with constituents that happen as part of an organisation's civic engagement and base-building work, such as canvassing and phone banking. 

This chapter describes the concepts you need to understand to use CiviEngage effectively. Following key concepts, you will find key questions that will help you to model your universe of constituents using CiviEngage.  

CiviEngage enhances the use of CiviCampaign, and they are designed to be used together. Read more about CiviCampaign in the Campaign section.  

Key Concepts

Understanding the following concepts will enable you to use CiviEngage effectively. 

CiviEngage and CiviCampaign

CiviEngage and CiviCampaign are tied closely together in that each provides features and custom data that work together to accomplish community organising activities. For example, you can:

  • create and conduct surveys to capture responses during door-knocking canvasses (using walklists) and phonebanking from your target audience
  • create and conduct a petition to capture more detailed responses
  • create reports to analyse the responses from your constituency to help you determine the next strategies in a programme or campaign
  • record an engagement index in an individual's activity record to gauge their level of interest or potential to be a highly active member or be easily mobilised for direct actions.

To learn more about CiviCampaign, refer to the Campaign section. There are also separate sections for Survey and Petition which should be read in conjunction with this section.

Custom Fields and Profiles

CiviEngage packages custom fields sets that help you to organise information about your constituents for civic engagement and community organising work. In this way, CiviEngage helps you to take advantage of features such as walk lists and phone bank lists for civic engagement work, and surveys to collect responses form your constituents. See the chapter Creating Custom Fields in the section Your Data and CiviCRM for more details about how to use custom fields sets and custom profiles.

Cleaning your Address Data

Cleaning your address data means standardising addresses to conform to the conventions defined by your postal address standards. Standardising how addresses are entered into CiviCRM will allow for more accurate search results when searching by address and is essential to generating accurate walk list reports. CiviCRM will parse addresses based on address standards.

To find out more about how address parsing is handled and used in CiviCRM, refer to the Address Settings subsection of the Installation & Basic Set-up chapter of this book. When adding or editing contacts you will be entering or editing address elements including street number, street name, and street unit according to these standards.

When planning to import pre-existing data into CiviCRM for use in CiviEngage it is essential that you clean up address data before importing.

Disabling versus Deleting CiviEngage Custom Data

If you decide you don't need to use or view particular custom groups, fields, or values, we strongly recommend that you disable the custom group, field, or value rather than delete it.  Custom reports and searches rely on these custom fields, so deleting certain custom data could potentially break or at least cause problems for the reports and searches.

Working with Your Universe of Contacts

In preparing for a campaign, you will need to identify the audiences you will be targeting for your canvass or phone bank. CiviCRM uses Smart Groups and regular Groups as the mechanisms to target specific groups of contacts. Here are some examples of how you can use Smart Groups and regular Groups for targeting during your campaign:

  • use Smart Groups to identify contacts you want to target based on specific criteria, such as voter demographics, issue interests, primary language spoken, etc.
  • track voter demographics using the custom data group called Voter Info
  • use Groups set up as mailing lists to identify contacts who want to subscribe to a particular newsletter or issue to send an email blast about your campaign
  • use these Smart Groups and regular Groups to generate your walk list or phone bank list.

Learn more about working with Smart Groups and regular Groups in the Tags and Groups chapter of this book.

Working with Voter History

CiviEngage enables you to manage voter history and other voter information collected during a voter engagement, voter education or electoral cycle.

Many organisations have access to a voter file from which they manage all their voter engagement work outside of CiviCRM. Once the voter engagement or electoral campaign is over and voter information is updated with who voted and other demographics, organisations will often only want to keep information on the actual contacts they made during the campaign. In this case, only those selected records from the voter file and additional voter information, such as responses to specific electoral campaign questions, a voter ID, and their registered party can be imported and maintained in CiviCRM. These voter records then become contacts that organisers will continue to engage and target for their base-building efforts.

Custom Contact Subtypes

CiviEngage creates new contact subtypes for Individuals and Organisations:

  • Individual Contact Subtypes:
    • Media Contact
    • Funder Contact
    • Elected Official
  • Organisation Contact Subtypes:
    • Media Outlet
    • Foundation

These subtypes allow you to track specific contacts such as funders and foundations, media contacts and elected officials, and record tailored information for each one.

Funders and Foundations: 

  • Track due dates for grant proposals, letters of inquiries and reports by adding an activity to the funder's contact record and choosing from the Proposal, Letter of Inquiry, or Report activity types.
  • Tailor information about an individual funder, such as their funding areas and issue interests by creating a new contact record with the individual contact subtype Funder Contact and using the Funder Info custom field set.
  • Tailor information about a foundation (organisation record), such as their program areas for funding creating a new contact record with the organisation contact subtype Foundation and using the Grant Info custom field set. 
Media Contacts and Media Outlets:
  • Record which media contacts or outlets are interested in your organisation's issues, or have written articles about your work, and for identifying who to contact when you want to publicise the work the organisation is undertaking.
  • Tailor information about an individual media contact or organisation, such as their media type (e.g. TV, Newspaper, Photographer, etc.), issue interests and area of operation (or beat) using the Media Info custom field set.

Elected Officials:

  • Record who is an elected official in a specific district, and who to contact on their staff, such as the scheduler, or spokesperson.
  • Tailor information about an individual elected official, such as their elected position and role, using the Elected Official Info custom field set; staffers and spokespeople for an elected official can also be entered with the Elected Official subtype.
See the next chapter, Set-up, for information about how to tailor subtypes.

Key Questions

The following questions are designed to help you make best use of CiviEngage.

  • Who are your organisation's constituents and what issues affect them?
  • Who are other important individuals and organisations related to your work (such as community leaders, donors, elected officials, media contacts and funders)?  
  • What do you need to know about your constituents to create targeted communications and appeals to mobilise?  
  • Will you do voter engagement work and use the results to enhance your current contact data?