Tools for Creating Change

Digital Organizing

Analysis of IDP Digital Organizing Infrastructure – updated 11/2020
In 2017 Emily Silliman and I teamed up to create Activate Iowa.  Our aim was to try to create a digital infrastructure for activism and involvement.  As of January 2021 we still feel strongly that we need a stronger communications infrastructure in Iowa.
It might be that not all of this could be accomplished by the party – but the party could do a lot more to improve the web/social media presence. In our view this presence should be not simply a place to ask for money – but a place to actually create a community, recruit volunteers, increase interest and trust in the IDP for democrats across the state. 

Emily and I looked up every Iowa Democratic county party organization in the state. We have a spreadsheet with information on all of the Facebook pages and the websites for each county.


The current state of affairs as of 11/20/20


1)  51 Democratic County party organizations have no website
In Iowa 51 Democratic County party organizations have no website. Most of these use Facebook as the primary means of communication.  Four county party organizations have neither a website nor a Facebook page.  (Of course, having a FB page is important. However, there are obvious risks involved with having the primary means of communication be through FB – in that case FB owns the information the IDP does not, and people who don’t want to be on FB are left out.


2) Since 2017 seven county Dem organizations have added new websites. However…
Since 2017 seven county Dem organizations have added new websites. However in that same time, 7 other counties have lost websites that were working in 2017 – those are now non-functioning URLs and those counties are back to using only Facebook.


3) Most websites are poorly designed and not maintained 
Most of the websites that have been created at the local level are very poor either in design, in information, or else they have so many technical problems as to be not functional. There are about
5 county party organizations that have good quality websites.


4)  Local IDP organizations are not able to maintain a professional, effective online presence 
It is clear to me as a web designer that these sites are difficult to maintain for the local parties.  I can tell this by the disjointed designs, incomplete information, technical problems, etc., found on most of the sites. Local parties need a way to easily update information and make their sites a real tool for organizing – not just an expensive hassle or an afterthought. It is unrealistic to think that all of these localities will have the people power to accomplish this. Please see below…

5) RE the IDP site:
OK so there is a tremendous issue at the local level but the IDP site is also problematic. In 2017 or thereabouts it was revamped and it is
much better than before. The site is now graphically strong. However the information is thin. The site still has an overall feeling of being centered around fundraising. In addition, there are technical glitches that cause the user to get stuck on a page (  The Voting information section while OK was not as complete or clear as the one Emily and I put together for Activate Iowa.  In my view the site needs to be a place that people want to go – volunteers should be highlighted, grassroots style events should be championed. In general the IDP site should feel like home for Iowa Dems rather than just another fundraising tool for the IDP. Also, it seems to me that the IDP needs to communicate on its website exactly how the party itself functions. How and when do people get elected within the party. What can regular democrats do and why should they care, etc. Right now a lot of people – especially young people see the party as a monolithic money machine. That needs to change. We don’t need everyone to be a party activist – but everyone needs to be able to easily understand the wonderful people, real principles and democratic rules that create the system called the IDP.
6) Campaigns need more digital organizing support as well: 
It is my impression that state legislative campaigns were each expected to come up with their own digital marketing plan. Some did this very well – others not so much. Each campaign had to go out and recruit web designers, video people, etc., on their own.  This process is time consuming and expensive for campaigns. As a web designer I know how small organizations –  such as a campaign for state house – can end up paying too much money for a site that ends up being poorly designed and is difficult or  for the campaign to actually update.  If the party offered a bank of digital services (see below)  it would save money and time for campaigns. 

What we tried:
Emily and I approached the party in 2017-2018 about these matters and I was regularly in touch with the communications director, Tess Seger, at that time. We offered our ideas freely and without charge. We also offered our services to the party at a minimal cost – but instead there was a young staffer hired from DC to handle the web and social media –  his salary was about $50K.  Of course I could well be missing something – but honestly there was very little actual change between 2017 and now in terms of creating the digital infrastructure necessary for the state.


Create a Digital Suppot Team
At this point I would suggest creating a Digital Support Team of 5-12 people that can recruit volunteers with web design, social media, graphic design, and copywriting experience to help with the effort. I would have at least a majority of this team be located in Iowa and be recruited from Iowa.  This support team would create the sites for each of the counties which currently do not have them. In addition, the support team would train IDP members at the local level via zoom on how to make basic changes to the site. If the county organization does not have anyone able to take this on the Digital Support Team would make those changes.

County party organizations must have a functioning, sustainable online presence:
In an ideal world all county party organizations would have a functioning website. Again, ideally, these websites would all be powered by the same content management system such as WordPress.  In addition, I would suggest that all the counties eventually utilize the same WordPress theme.  A flexible theme, like Divi, would allow each site to look different – but the backend would function in the same way from site to site.   This would accomplish several things. First, the Digital Support Team would be able to easily learn and understand all of the aspects of the theme and edits would be much easier.  Second, and most importantly – if a majority of the county sites were using the same theme then information, – such as information on voting and voting updates, could be added across the state to every site using that theme. It takes about 5-10 minutes to pass along data from one site to another in this way. I did exactly this in Iowa City this cycle by swapping important information back and forth between our
Activate Iowa site and the Potluck Insurgency site that I also created.

State-level campaigns need support in digital organizing:
A Digital Support Team could offer campaigns a menu of items including – web design and hosting, social media integration, logo design and training.   Campaigns could choose to use the IDP support team or not. IF a campaign did decide to use the Support Team services then the same content management system and theme could be utilized so that information could be exchanged among campaigns where and when necessary.   


IDP County Digital Presence - updated 11/2020

IDP County Digital Presence - updated 11/2020

CountySite URLFacebookComments
Adairno website
Adamsno website is a group)
Allamakeeno website not working)
Ankeny Area Demshttp://www.ankenyareademocrats.org Site
Appanooseno website
Audubon page, no pics, decent info, mostly links to IDP and such
Benton since 2016 / Limited 5 page site
Black Hawk, has people pictures, not effective, events page fail
Boone site - but lots o technical glitches that make it difficult to use.
Bremer site - well done.
Buchanan SITE - since 2016 / Good information - poor design.
Buena Vista updated since 2016
Butler potential design - technical issues.
Calhounno website
Carrollno websiteno FBNOT WORKING:
Cassno website
Cedar website
Cerro Gordono website
Cherokeeno website
Chickasawno website
Clarke look, BUT little information
Clay good information - poorly organized
Clayton Information - poorly designed
Clinton of good info - poorly designed
Crawfordno website
Dallas ideas info - but technical problems... No social media links
Davis site - functional
Decaturno website
Delaware not updated since 2017
Des Moines = not working! NOT WORKING
Dickinson since 2016 / Basic site - but it is a start
Dubuque site - information and design.
Emmet site - with some up -to date info
Fayetteno website
Floydno website
Franklinno website
Fremontno website
Friends of the Washington, Iowa Democratsno website
Greeneno website
Grundyno website
Guthrie website - info and functional
Hamilton SITE SINCE 2016 / Very poor
Hancockno website
Hardinno website
Harrison FBLively, blog-style site
Henry site and information
Howardno website
Humboldt SITE SINCE 2016 / Awkward uninviting site
Idano website
Iowa few pix, which really helps, events page blank, very little content
Iowa Democratic Party 1st Congressional District
Iowa Democratic Party 2nd Congressional District
Iowa Democratic Party 3rd Congressional District
Iowa Democratic Party 4th Congressional District emphasis. Too many clicks to get where you need to go. (No Facebook/Twitter)
Jacksonno website
Jasperno website LONGER WORKING /
Jefferson boredom. Mostly links to IDP, Fairfield is so much more interesting than this! Not even a picture.
Johnson good site.. But should be a model for the state...
Jones site - no images!
Keokukno website
Kossuthno website
Leeno website
Linn of content - poor design
Louisa FBA gem! Nice pix, some interesting content, inclusive, inviting language.
Lucasno website
Lyonno website
Madison good site
Mahaskano website
Marionno website
Marshallno website WORKING:
Millsno website
Mitchellno websiteno FB
Mononano website
Monroeno website
Montgomery site...
Muscatine concept, appears to be under construction.
O'Brien site/ of minimal use.
Osceolano website
Page site.
Palo Altono website
Plymouthno website NOT WORKING. - not working was good in 2016 - what happened
Pocahontas site
Polk**Good site / A lot of good info on Dem groups, and good events
Pottawattamie could use some help.
Poweshiek site! I liked the page with precinct and House District maps (although they could explain why that matters), the videos should be more prominently placed, and a better events calendar would be good - but this is nice.
Ringgoldno website
Sacno website
Scott minimal site.
Shelbyno website WORKING:
Siouxno website
Solo Democratsno website
Southeast Dallas County Democratsno website
Story site
Tama Site...
Taylorno websiteno FB
Tri County Democratsno website
Unionno website
Van Burenno website
Wapello minimal site
Washington minimal site
Wayneno websiteno FB
Webster SITE SINCE 2016
Winnebagono website good simple site
Winneshiek great, but some good videos are hidden in a videos section. Chaotic design
Woodbury good video - otehrwise minimal info
Worthno website
Wrightno website


Progressive Organizations in Iowa

NameHQTypeFB URLWebsiteTwitterFB type# FB group#FB likes#FB follow
100GranniesJohnsonIssue - Environment
Action Iowa (Formerly Pantsuit Nation Iowa)Grassroots - umbrella
Activate IowaStatewideNews
American Friends Service Committee - IowaReligious - Quaker
Americans for Democratic Action IowaGrassroots - umbrella
Ames branch of the NAACPAmesIssue - Racial Justice
Asian and Latino CoalitionDes MoinesIssue - Racial Justice
Black Lives Matter - IowaIssue - Racial Justice
Black Voices ProjectIssue - Racial Justice
Bold IowaIssue - Environment
C.R. Solidarity in MotionLinn CountyGrassroots - local
Cedar Rapids National Organization for Women NOWCedar RapidsIssue - Women's Rights
Center for Worker Justice of Eastern IowaJohnsonIssue - Worker justice, Immigration
Citizens for a Healthy IowaIssue - Heath Care
Climate Action Iowa - still functioning?Issue - Environment@ClimateActionIA
Climate Action Southeast Iowa - No Bakken HereIssue - Environment
Committed 2018Grassroots - umbrella
Decorah PowerIssue - Environment
Direct Action Cedar ValleyGrassroots - localhttp://DirectActionCV.orgPage
Direct Action Cedar ValleyGrassroots - local
Drinking Liberally Sioux CityGrassroots - local
DSM - SURJPolk CountyIssue - Racial Justice
Eastern Iowa Community Bond ProjectIssue - Immigration
Eastside DemsJohnsonGrassroots - local
Eastside HuddleJohnsonGrassroots - local
Faith in Action: Iowa EpiscopaliansReligious - Episcopalian
Fallon ForumIssue - Environment
Fight for Voting RightsIssue - Voting Rights
Flip It Iowa2018 elections
Good Neighbor IowaIssue - Environment
Grinnell Student ResistancePoweshiekGrassroots - local
Grinnellians for ChangeGrassroots - local
Heart of Iowa Democratic Socialists of AmericaGrassroots - umbrella
High School Democrats of IowaDemocrats
Hogwash! Fighting the Iowa Rightwing Propaganda Machine
IC CompassionSupport - poor, immigrants
Indigenous IowaIssue - Racial Justice
Indivisble Iowa SD3/HD6Grassroots - local
Indivisble SD12 / HD 23 & 24Grassroots - local
Indivisble SD20/HD39&40
indivisible 30/31- 59,60,6d1,62black HawkGrassroots - local
Indivisible SD33&35-HD65,66,69,70Grassroots - local
indivisible 26-51 &52Grassroots - local
indivisible 28-55 northeast iowaGrassroots - local
indivisible 29- 57& 58Grassroots - local
Indivisible 36-71&72Grassroots - local
Indivisible 37-73JohnsonGrassroots - local
Indivisible 37-74JohnsonGrassroots - local
Indivisible 48- 95&96Grassroots - local
Indivisible 515 - Central IowaGrassroots - local
Indivisible DubuqueGrassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa - GroupGrassroots - umbrella
Indivisible Iowa - PageGrassroots - umbrella
Indivisible Iowa SD 2/HDs 3&4Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD 24/HD48Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD 26/HD51&52Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD 7/HDs 13&14Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD1/HD1&2
Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD23 / HD45&46 AmesGrassroots - local
indivisible Iowa SD25/HD49&50Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD27/HD54 & 53Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD4/HD7Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD5/HD9&10Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD6/HD11&12Grassroots - local
Indivisible Iowa SD9/HD17&18Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD #34 House # 67/68Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD 10 / HD 19 & 20Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD 13 / HD 26Grassroots - local
indivisible SD 14 / HD 27 & 28Grassroots - local
indivisible SD 39 - HD 77&78Grassroots - local
indivisible SD 40- 79& 80Grassroots - local
Indivisible Sd 41 - HD 82Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD 43- HD 85&86Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD 45/47 HD 89,90,93,94Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD 49- HD 97&98Grassroots - local
indivisible SD 50- HD 99&100Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD11/ HD 21 & 22Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD15- HD 29&30Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD16/HD31&32Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD17/HD33&34Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD18/HD35&36Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD19/HD37&38
indivisible SD21/HD41&42
Indivisible SD22/HD43&44
Indivisible SD44- HD 87&88Grassroots - local
Indivisible SD46- HD91Grassroots - local
Infonet (Iowans with Disabilities in Action)Issue - Disabilities
Interfaith Alliance of IowaReligious - ecumenical
Iowa 350Issue - Environment
Iowa 3rd District Green PartyIssue - Environment
Iowa Action and Student EngagementGrassroots - umbrella
Iowa CCI ActionGrassroots - umbrella
Iowa Center for Public Affairs JournalismNews
Iowa Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action - MFSAReligious - Methodist
Iowa Citizen Action NetworkActivist Education
Iowa Citizen Action Network@IA_CAN
Iowa Citizens for Community ImprovementGrassroots - umbrella
Iowa City Catholic WorkerReligioius - Catholic
Iowa City Climate AdvocatesIssue - Environment
Iowa City SURG - Showing Up for Racial JusticeIssue - Racial Justice
Iowa Coalition for Retirement SecurityStatewideIssue - Labor
Iowa Farmers UnionIssue - Farm & Agriculture
Iowa Justice AllianceIssue - Racial Justice
Iowa Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution SocietyActivist Education
Iowa Main Street AllianceDes MoinesGrassroots - local
Iowa Policy ProjectResearch Group
Iowa Pride PACIssue - LGBTQ
Iowa River FriendsIssue - Environment
Iowa Safe SchoolsIssue - LGBTQ
Iowa Sanctuary MovementIssue - Immigration
iowa Senate DemocratsDemocrats
Iowa State Education AssociationIssue - Education
Iowa Sustainable AgIssue - Agriculture
Iowa Women for Progressive ChangeIssue - Women's Rights PAC
Iowa's Water and Land LegacyIssue - Environment
Iowans Defending Our UniversitiesIssue - Education
Iowans for Gun SafetyIssue - Guns
Iowans for Public EducationStatewideIssue - Education
Iowans for Public EducationStatewideIssue - Education
Latinos UnidosDes MoinesIssue - Racial Justice
Little Creek CampIssue - Environment
Little Creek Movement GrinnellIssue - environment
Living Wage Linn CountyIssue - worker rights
Loud and LiberalNews - Web Show
LULACWaterlooIssue - Racial Justice ‏Page4343
LULACDavenportIssue - Racial Justice
LULACIowa Council listIssue - Racial Justice
LULAC - League of United Latin American CitizensFort MadisonIssue - Racial Justice
Midwest TelegraphNews
Mighty Earth Des MoinesIssue - Environment
Mobilizing UpWintersetGrassroots - local
Moms Demand Action - IAIssue - Guns
Moral Mondays IowaReligious - Ecumenical
Naral Pro-Choice IowaIssue - Womens Rights
Northwest Des Moines DemocratsPolk CountyDemocratic Party
Northwest Iowa for Our RevolutionGrassroots - umbrella
One Human Family QCAQuad CitiesIssue - Racial Justice
One IowaIssue - LGBTQ
One Iowa ActionIssue - LGBTQ
Operation ButtercupGrassroots - umbrella
Our Revolution IowaGrassroots - umbrella
Our Revolution Scott CountyGrassroots
Our Revolution Story CountyGrassroots
Parents for Great Iowa SchoolsIssue - Education
Peace IowaIssue - Peace
Planned Parenthood Voters of IowaIssue - Women's Rights
Positive Words and ActionsIssue - Racial Justice
Postcards and Pale AleJohnsonGrassroots - local
Postcards to Iowa VotersGrassroots - local
Potluck InsurgencyJohnsonGrassroots - local[no FB]
Progress IowaGrassroots - umbrella
Progressive Voices of IowaGrassroots - umbrella
Sankofa Outreach ConnectionJohnsonIssue - Racial Justice
Sioux City Human Rights CommissionSioux CityIssue - Racial Justice
Siouxland Progressive WomenGrassroots - local
Siouxland StandGrassroots - local
Spirit of CitizenshipActivist Education
Stand With the Kids Quad CitiesQuad CitiesIssue - Guns
Strong WomenJohnsonGrassroots - local[no FB][none]
Students Against School Shootings IowaIssue - Guns
Supporters, Friends, and Allies of Iowa Black IssuesIssue - Racial Justice
Sustainable Iowa Land Trust - SILTIssue - Environment
TeamcanGrassroots - umbrella
The Catholic Worker HouseJohnsonReligious - Catholic
Uiowa_ALMAStudents - Latinx
UNIfy for EducationUniversity of Northern IowaIssue - Education
Urban DreamsSupport - Urban Communities
UU Legislative Action Workgroup - LAWReligious - Unitarians
Where Do We Go From Here?Mason CityGrassroots - local
Women For a Stronger AmericaDes MoinesIssue - Women's Rights
Women's MARCH - IOWAIssue - Women's Rights
Worth County ProgressivesWorth CountyGrassroots - local