Running a political campaign is a time-consuming process. Good political campaign management software can make that process easier and more efficient. Below, we review the top 12 software tools for running an effective political campaign in 2023. We’ll consider the pros and cons of each tool, with case studies exploring how various politicians have used campaign management tools to win elections.
But first, we’ll focus on two questions: why is campaign software so important? And what criteria should you consider as you choose which software is right for your team?
Campaign management tools are essential for many aspects of modern campaigning, from recruiting volunteers to getting out the vote. Here are a few key reasons why investing in political campaign management software can make a real difference:
Your campaign team likely has more than enough tasks already on their plates. Effective campaign software can automate time-consuming tasks, use AI to generate materials, and help you reach more voters in a smaller amount of time.
Many campaign management tools offer capabilities like peer-to-peer (P2P) SMS texting, which lets you connect with potential voters on a more personal level than you could through mailers and email. Campaign software can also integrate with social media and give supporters an easier way to donate to your campaign.
At Good Party, we believe that effective campaigns begin with grassroots support. That includes seeking the financial support of small donors, rather than the financial backing of corporations, political action committees (PACs), or large donors. Self-funding is also not an ideal option. It takes power away from the people, and most self-funded candidates lose their elections, according to Open Secrets. In the 2022 election cycle, the seven House and Senate candidates with the highest percentages of self-funding all lost their races, either in the primaries or in the general election. Political campaign management software can help your team build a broad base of support, so you don’t have to rely on self-funding or big donors.
In our current electoral system, independent and third-party candidates are often at a disadvantage compared to Republicans and Democrats. Effective campaign management tools can provide independent candidates the support they need to be viable competitors. From crafting your campaign message to executing your campaign strategy, tools like Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager are here to support independents on the road to election.
No one campaign management software will be right for every campaign team. As you consider different software options, ask yourself these questions:
What type of campaign software does your team need? Different campaign management tools focus on different aspects of campaigning, like P2P texting, canvassing, and fundraising. Other tools take a more holistic approach to supporting campaigns. To learn more about the types of political fundraising platforms specifically, read our blog on effective online fundraising here.
What capabilities are most important to your campaign? Review the functionalities offered by each platform. Do they meet your campaign’s needs in terms of fundraising capabilities? What about voter outreach capabilities? Make sure the tools offered will make a real difference in your campaign.
How would you rate the ease of use? How easy is it for your team members and volunteers to learn and use the software’s capabilities? If supporters and donors will also engage with the software, how easy is it for them to join the movement?
What’s the cost? Political campaign management software can cost anywhere from zero to thousands of dollars per month. Choose a platform that aligns with your team’s budget.
How well does the software integrate with your existing toolkit? Your campaign team may already have a number of tools at their disposal. Many platforms can integrate with social media, marketing platforms, and even other campaign software.
Is the software party-affiliated? Some tools offer their services only to members of a certain political party.
How scalable is the technology? Especially if you’re hoping to advance from a primary to a general election, your team will want campaign software that is easily scalable.
How does the software handle compliance and reporting? Maintaining accurate, up-to-date reports of campaign contributions and expenses is critical to running an effective campaign. Make sure the software you choose is compliant with campaign finance regulations and the Federal Election Commission (FEC)’s guidelines.
How does the software approach data management and analytics? Your team needs software that keeps voter data secure, while offering analytics and AI capabilities to accelerate your strategy.
As you ask yourself these questions, remember that no software is one-size-fits-all. Find the campaign management tools that work best for you and your team.
Here are our top 12 picks for the best campaign management tools of 2023:
We’re putting ourselves first because more than any other platform, Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager is built to help independent and third-party candidates win.
Pros: Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager uses artificial intelligence to power independent campaigns, helping you get off the ground faster. We pair cutting-edge AI capabilities with guidance and support from real-life experts in politics, social media, and mobilization. Plus, get access to Good Party’s network of engaged and passionate volunteers. Becoming Good Party Certified also lets voters know that you are willing to run a clean, people-centered campaign based on good ideas. Check out our 2023 Nashville Voter Guide to see how Good Party is currently helping four candidates for Nashville’s city council.
Cons: Good Party’s campaign software is not available to Republican and Democratic candidates.
Demo Available: Yes, and Good Party’s tools are currently free for all independent candidates!
NGP VAN is one of 2023’s leaders in the political campaign software industry. NGP VAN is specifically targeted at Democratic and progressive campaigns.
Pros: NGP VAN offers an extensive array of capabilities, including a constituent relationship management (CRM) platform, fundraising and compliance tools, volunteer management, and reporting and analytics abilities. NGP VAN makes digital outreach easier with tools like targeted email, a 50-state voter file, and SMS messaging. The software is also able to integrate with Mobilize and ActBlue. NGP VAN has played a role in the election campaigns of Democratic candidates including President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Cons: NGP VAN is only available for Democratic candidates, so Republican and independent candidates should look elsewhere.
Cost: Pricing starts at $45 per month, per user
Demo Available: No free trial or free version available
Mobilize is part of the NGP VAN family. Mobilize is specifically focused on volunteer recruiting and event organizing.
Pros: Mobilize has proved effective at mobilizing volunteers and making it easier for campaigns to coordinate volunteer activities. The platform utilizes email and text messaging to give volunteers direction and guidance, secure event RSVPs, and more. According to their website, Mobilize was able to save 5-10 hours weekly per campaign staff member. Mobilize is also able to integrate with NGP VAN and ActBlue.
Cons: Due to its focus on volunteer and event organizing, Mobilize likely cannot stand alone as effective campaign management software.
Cost: Pricing starts at $200 per month, per feature
Demo Available: Yes, free demo available
As its name suggests, Ecanvasser is a tool focused mainly on canvassing and raising voter support. Ecanvasser has been used by over 200,000 political campaigns in over 70 countries around the globe.
Pros: Ecanvasser offers user-friendly software, with a centralized dashboard and mobile apps, including apps dedicated to SMS outreach. Ecanvasser gives grassroots campaign teams more autonomy, with the ability for volunteers and supporters to add people from their own networks to your campaign. Ecanvasser also has an unlimited number of users, meaning a broad base of support can get involved directly.
Cons: Users have reported frustrations with data entry and the live map tool.
Cost: Pricing starts at $167 per month
Demo Available: Yes, free trial available, but no free version
NationBuilder integrates the various aspects of your political campaign, from your campaign website to social media, in one cohesive system.
Pros: NationBuilder has a broad range of capabilities, including website building, email and SMS marketing, fundraising, volunteer recruiting, and field organization. NationBuilder offers more than 80 specialized apps and integrations (see NationBuilder’s website for a full list of apps and integrations). NationBuilder integrates well with Ecanvasser, allowing your team to better visualize your network of supporters.
Cons: While NationBuilder offers numerous integrations, it does not integrate with common campaign tools like ActBlue and Mobilize.
Cost: Pricing starts at $34 per month
Demo Available: Yes, free trial available
Tatango’s main focus is on SMS marketing and political fundraising, helping your team accrue enough donations to meet your campaign goals.
Pros: Tatango allows your team to collect donations by text, making it easier for voters to support your campaign while keeping their data secure. Tatango’s SMS marketing features allow you to get a message out to supporters within seconds. Tatango also integrates with ActBlue, WinRed, Anedot, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Fundraise Up.
Cons: Tatango is a more expensive software option compared to many alternatives. Its focus on fundraising may also require additional support in other areas such as volunteer recruitment and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts.
Cost: Pricing starts at $500 per month
Demo Available: Free trial available, but no free version
ISPolitical offers plans focused on campaign fundraising, compliance reporting, security, and finance software for political treasurers.
Pros: ISPolitical offers a wide range of services, including voter tracking metrics, real-time donation data, and constituent relationship management. ISPolitical integrates with other platforms including WinRed, ActBlue, and NationBuilder. ISPolitical has received very positive user reviews.
Cons: The segmentation of ISPolitical’s offerings may make its software more difficult for beginners to navigate.
Cost: Pricing starts at $39.99 per month
Demo Available: Yes, free trial available, but no free version
Aristotle Campaign Manager is an all-inclusive campaign management platform that can help bring your local or statewide campaign to the next level.
Pros: Aristotle Campaign Manager’s capabilities cover fundraising, compliance, and accounting. Aristotle offers a campaign relationship management platform, donor insights, custom call sheets, and more. Customizable features and real-time monitoring give your campaign the added boost you need.
Cons: Aristotle Campaign Manager can be more costly than competitors, depending on the plan you choose.
Cost: Pricing for local campaigns starts at $250 per month. Pricing for U.S. House and statewide campaigns starts at $750 per month.
Demo Available: Yes, but no free version
Trail Blazer Campaign Manager offers a range of helpful tools, with a main focus on voter targeting.
Pros: Trail Blazer Campaign Manager offers tools including mobile canvassing, mapping and turf cutting, access to voter data, mobile poll watching, phone banking, constituent management, and more. Trail Blazer Campaign Manager is easy to use, and has received positive reviews on its excellent tech support team. The Mobile Base Camp app makes canvassing and field work easier with data ready on the go. Trail Blazer Campaign Manager is also non-partisan, welcoming Republican, Democratic, and independent candidates.
Cons: Users have reported difficulties with repetitive and time-consuming tasks, which otherwise could have been automated.
Cost: Pricing starts at $100 per month
Demo Available: Yes, but no free version
Like NGP VAN, ActBlue is a platform specifically targeted at Democratic candidates and organizations.
Pros: ActBlue supports grassroots fundraising through small-dollar donors, allowing your campaign to achieve a broad base of support instead of relying on corporate donations or self-funding. ActBlue offers an Express Lane single-click payment system to make fundraising easier and increase conversion rates. ActBlue also offers A/B testing tools, tandem fundraising with other candidates, and integrations with platforms including Action Network, ActionKit, and Blue State Digital.
Cons: ActBlue is only available for Democratic campaigns, making it inaccessible for Republican and independent candidates. ActBlue has also received more negative customer reviews than some other platforms.
Cost: No cost except a 3.95% processing fee on all donations
Demo Available: No free version or free trial
CampaignSidekick is a platform primarily focused on providing voter contact services.
Pros: CampaignSidekick includes a voter contact and data management system, SMS marketing platform, and CRM for task management. CampaignSidekick is easy to use, allowing your team to manage volunteers and contact voters efficiently. Mobile apps are available for both Android and iPhone users.
Cons: CampaignSidekick is mainly focused on voter contact, so other aspects of your campaign, such as fundraising, may need additional support.
Cost: Pricing starts at $99 per month
Demo Available: Yes
Relay is a peer-to-peer texting tool that can boost your team’s engagement with potential voters.
Pros: Relay offers a simple, streamlined way to use P2P SMS messaging to connect with supporters and potential voters. Relay allows you to have real conversations and collect valuable data.
Cons: Relay’s focus is solely on SMS messaging, so this software should serve as a tool in your toolkit rather than a stand-alone campaign management software.
Cost: Pricing starts at $0.08 per outgoing message
Demo Available: Yes
From local to national elections, campaign management software has proved essential in helping a wide range of candidates gain support and win their elections. Here are a few important ways that effective campaign software has boosted campaigns and launched candidates of different political backgrounds to success:
Two well-known politicians who have campaigned on attracting small-dollar donors and rejecting donations from political action committees are Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made use of crowdfunding platforms to engage a younger vote base and raise funds from supporters across the nation. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders used ActBlue during his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids to raise funds and garner grassroots support for his progressive ideals. While Sanders did not win either presidential election, ActBlue helped his campaign build a strong network of supporters instead of focusing on the support of corporations, PACs, and large donors.
Political campaign management software can give underdog candidates the boost they need to be viable competitors. In Philadelphia, Larry Krasner began the 2017 electoral race for district attorney with a far different platform than the average candidate for district attorney. Unlike much of his competition and many of his predecessors, Larry Krasner campaigned against mass incarceration, systematic racism in law enforcement, and the death penalty. Though Krasner began as an underdog, he was able to win the May 2017 primary election and the November general election – thanks in part to his team’s use of Relay.
Relay uplifted Krasner’s campaign during four crucial phases. During the first phase, Relay allowed Krasner’s team to message 105,000 potential voters and identify over 500 volunteers. In the second phase, his team used Relay to coordinate canvassing efforts. Next, they used Relay to get out the vote, confirming support from thousands of voters. Finally, Election Day saw the team using Relay to again coordinate volunteer activities as they worked at polling stations across Philadelphia. Overall, Relay’s P2P messaging capabilities generated more than half of all voter engagement for the campaign.
Another benefit of effective campaign management software is the ability to forge ahead in competitive electoral races. For instance, Democratic candidate Veronica Klinefelt used NGP VAN to help win a seat in the Michigan State Senate, despite a contested election. NGP VAN helped Klinefelt’s team succeed in a competitive primary and an even more contested general election. In the end, Klinefelt won the general election with 53 percent of votes.
On a more local level, circuit judge candidate Patrick Kennedy was able to use Ecanvasser to help win 39.3 percent of the vote in a contested primary election. Using Ecanvasser then enabled Kennedy’s team to prepare for the following run-off election.
Candidates and their teams have a wide range of campaign management tools to choose from as they plan their campaigns in 2023. Each piece of software offers unique capabilities, and it is important to consider which technology best matches your campaign’s needs.
Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager is available for free for independent political candidates. Our campaign software includes AI capabilities, expert support, and access to a broad volunteer network. Learn more about Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager and how our tools are helping real people win. Or to learn more about the benefits of campaign software and what to consider as you assemble your campaign toolkit, read our blog on enhancing political campaigns with efficient software.
Photo credit to Andy Feliciotti