Volunteering has become an essential part of high school. Colleges expect hours, many clubs require them and students try their hardest to meet goals around them. Most everyone has a go-to way of earning service hours, whether through a church or otherwise, but for me, my biggest source of hours is phone-banking.
Phone-banking is done by volunteers for different organizations or campaigns aiming to contact a usually identified group of people on a certain issue or for a specific event. One could phone-bank to help elect a certain person to office or to simply invite people to a rally.
I do the majority of my volunteering with Planned Parenthood, an organization dedicated to women’s health advocacy. I’ve phone-banked before on a number of issues, but this particular phone-bank was to encourage people to come to the “Not in Her Shoes Day of Action” rally on March 20 from noon to one at the General Assembly.
Usually, I use an automatic dialer for phone-banking, which, honestly, is incredibly stressful. The dialer generally connects you with real people. This should be a good thing — you have more of a chance to find people in support of the work you’re doing — but the threat of argument or rejection makes the experience nerve-wracking as you wait for the beep to signify someone is connected on the other line.
The other way of phone-banking is more old-fashioned: dialing yourself. At the “Not in Her Shoes” phone-bank I received a packet of names and phone-numbers, and the volunteer coordinator instructed me to call every one. I could leave voicemails if nobody answered, lessening the chance of finding someone who “definitely didn’t support Planned Parenthood” and helpfully instructed me to remove them from the calling list multiple times.
With a lesser threat of actually talking to someone, I took the phone-banking script and began making calls in confidence. The script was easy to understand and follow, and for those who did answer the phone (there were few), half were very supportive of what I was doing.
Phone-banking can be a chore, but overall it is enjoyable — the avid supporters I talked to were incredibly nice and made every other bad call worth it. It’s a remarkably easy way to earn service hours, and because so many organizations need volunteers for phone-banking and canvassing, it’s easy to find an opportunity to do so. Whether for Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace or a political campaign, phone-banking is a fantastic, grassroots way to help an organization you’re passionate about.