Deep canvassing and its benefits

Deep Canvassing builds emotional connections for effective and long-lasting message delivery. Learn how it can help your campaign or cause.

Eimear O'Neill
4 minutes
Deep canvassing and its benefits

Convincing people to vote in your favor, support your cause, or make a donation can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Resultantly, new techniques for campaigning are continually being developed to make this process of persuasion easier for volunteers.

One such method that has come to prominence in recent years is ‘deep canvassing,’ a form of campaigning that centres around having empathetic conversations in order to shift public opinions, rather than simply outlining a set of facts pertaining to a particular cause or election. More and more, this form of campaigning is being utilized- so could it be a good fit with your canvassing strategy and with your volunteers? 

Read on to find out more about deep canvassing and the attributes of this method that could help to strengthen public support for your campaign or cause. 

What is Deep Canvassing?

Deep canvassing can be described as a persuasion method that operates on the basis of creating empathetic human connections. Instead of simply telling people how to vote or support a cause (as is usually the format taken with traditional campaigning), volunteers will engage in one-on-one conversations with those they encounter and attempt to build a relationship with these potential supporters. Having originated in 2012, the popularity of deep canvassing has grown exponentially in recent years, most notably in the 2020 American Presidential Election where it was widely used by major political and advocacy organizations (including People’s Action) to sway undecided voters. But what makes this technique so popular, and why are canvassers convinced of its efficacy? The utility of deep canvassing comes down to a number of key factors:

The Benefits of Deep Canvassing:

  • Focus on feelings, not on facts: often, appealing to someone through facts alone can result in your potential supporter feeling overwhelmed or disinterested. While facts and statistics are undoubtedly important to make your case, an emotionally persuasive argument is what people respond to the most. This is why deep canvassing is so effective- by building empathetic connections instead of fixating exclusively on facts, this form of persuasion is far more likely to have a lasting impact on your constituents, thereby improving your chances of securing their support. 
  • Gain insights into the needs of your community: by actively engaging with the public and listening to their concerns in relation to your campaign or cause, deep canvassing can allow you to gain a meaningful sense of what your community needs, and accordingly adjust your campaign strategy to take account of this. This can ensure that your campaign and its message are appropriately focused on the actual needs and interests of the people to whom it pertains, thereby increasing the chances of your campaign piquing the interests of your community and gaining their approval.
  • Provides excellent training to your volunteers: by requiring your volunteers to engage in more in-depth, meaningful interactions with potential supporters, your volunteers’ canvassing skills will rapidly improve, giving them the confidence to engage in more acts of volunteerism and spread your message even further.

The benefits of deep canvassing in your organization

The Long-Lasting Effects of Deep Canvassing

The benefits of deep canvassing outlined in the previous section would suggest that it is, in theory, a more efficacious means of canvassing than traditional methods. But how does it actually perform in practice? Are these benefits borne out in reality? According to recent findings, the answer is a resounding yes- in 2018, Kalla and Broockman completed a study into the effectiveness of different canvassing techniques, in which they found that short phone calls, television and radio advertisements are only capable of changing an opinion for approximately one week. Deep canvassing, by comparison, can result in a change of opinion lasting as long as three months. This would suggest that deep canvassing produces measurable and long-lasting effects that actually meaningfully influence public opinion, making it a particularly powerful tactic for anyone looking to start a campaign or cause. 


As has been demonstrated throughout this article, deep canvassing offers many significant benefits to those embarking on their canvassing journey. By focusing on forming deeper connections with potential supporters, deep canvassing allows you to meaningfully convey your messages to constituents in a compelling manner, while adapting your strategy in line with their responses. This offers not only benefits for your volunteers’ canvassing capabilities, but also your campaign as a whole by ensuring your messages last in the minds of your community in the long-run. For these reasons, deep canvassing is undoubtedly a canvassing tactic worth investing in. Why not try it out today and see how it helps your cause, organization or election campaign message to spread! 


American Political Science Review , Volume 112 , Issue 1 , February 2018

Tips & Info

Receive best practices, events and news directly in your email box.

Sign up

Stay in the loop!

Best practices, events & news, straight to your inbox.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Time for...

Get a demo

You might also like