Make Call Time More Enjoyable – with Larry Tramutola

We all know the importance of call time. Call time is sacred for a lot of different reasons. It’s the time you dedicate every day to volunteer recruitment.  It’s a time for your volunteers to get together to take action. It’s a time for volunteers to reach voters. It’s a time for you to test your volunteers. And it’s a time to display the kind of discipline that is absolutely crucial for an organizer to have.

Sometimes call time is really great. Maybe on those nights, your volunteers bring in your favorite food, you have a really great night on the phone, or you have a great group of volunteers in working hard the whole time.

Let’s be real though. Call time isn’t always fun.

Sometimes those five hours feel like five years. Sometimes no one is home or worse—the only people home are shockingly cranky. But you’re an organizer; you’re trained to use your call time every night, no matter how miserable it sometimes makes you, because you know how important it is.

Here’s the problem: you are not the only one who sometimes dreads call time. Your volunteers are going to have rough nights too. It’s your job to keep organizing fun for all of your volunteers.

To help you out, each issue of 63 Magazine will bring you new ideas to make call time more fun. Because, admit it: you need it to be more fun.

Our first issue’s tip comes from Larry Tramutola, author of Sidewalk Strategies– a featured book in the issue. He’s been organizing for over 40 years and even he still learns something new every race he works on. When he was recently working on a particularly tough soda tax campaign, he realized his team needed to do something to keep the spirits of their volunteers up. Here’s what they tried.

Step 1: When volunteers sign in to phonebank, have them also write their name on a slip of paper.

Step 2: Every night and every phonebank, set an alarm for the same time. Choose a time that’s seems best for a quick break, like 7:00 PM.

Step 3: When the alarm goes off, ask everyone to wrap up the call they’re on and to stop dialing for a few minutes.

Step 4: Draw a name from the slips of paper volunteers filled out when they signed in.

Step 5: Whoever’s name you draw becomes Dance Captain for the evening. As Dance Captain, they are responsible for picking one song.

Step 6: Pull up the song chosen by the evening’s Dance Captain and play it on some speakers.


Step 8: Finish the song, clap it out, and then get right back into call time.

These nightly dance breaks turned out awesome for Larry’s team. Each night it was so much fun to watch volunteers of all ages get excited for their nightly dance break.

Try a nightly dance break at your phone banks! The fun of that one dance break can kill the restless wriggles and distractions of a long, slow night of calls.

Here are a couple on–theme songs you can use if your name gets drawn one night: