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Signature Gathering Rap & Strategy Sheet 

Prepare using these tips for gathering signatures to get Community Budgeting for All on the November 2024 ballot

Introduction

This document provides tips and talking points for engaging Portland voters in signing the Community Budgeting For All initiative petition. It will be useful if you are gathering signatures independently or if you are joining one of our organized canvases.  In addition to this document, please review the instructions (pboregon.org/gather) for gathering signatures of Portland voters and turning in signature sheets into the campaign by mail or our network of drop boxes.

I. Talking Points

The best talking points are the authentic messages you craft yourself, practice and refine as you go. The more you petition the better you will get. But here are some ideas to get you started and some tips for being most effective. 

 

When engaging people in public, you usually have only a brief moment to get their attention and determine- as best you can- whether they are a registered Portland voter. You’ll want to start with one or two clear questions to get their attention and make clear that you're asking them to sign an initiative petition. Some possibilities could be:

 

“Transparency & Accountability” Pitch 1:

I am a volunteer with the Community Budgeting for All Campaign. Would you sign a petition to increase transparency, accountability, and equity in how the City spends public funds? 
If the person responds and gives you a moment of attention, move rapidly to explain the opportunity in the Community Budgeting for All petition:

“Transparency & Accountability” Follow-up 1:

The initiative petition would enable all Portlanders to decide on how to spend 2% of the City budget (roughly $15 million annually).

If adopted, the City would be required to run a community budgeting process with transparent rules and open to all residents. Community budget decisions to invest in feasible projects would be binding and implemented by the City Bureaus. Similar community budgeting processes are already running in every other major City on the West Coast and dozens of other cities around the US. Bringing community budgeting to Portland would give all Portlanders more voice and vote in how the City spends funds, increasing transparency, accountability and resulting in more equitable outcomes. 

Are you a registered Portland voter? Will you sign to put the community budgeting on the November 2024 ballot in the City of Portland.


“Voice & Vote” Pitch 2:

I am volunteering on an initiative petition to give all Portlanders more voice and vote in how our City spends public funds. Do you vote in Portland elections? Will you consider signing this petition?

If the person responds, is a Portland voter, and gives you a moment of attention, move rapidly to explain the opportunity in the Community Budgeting for All petition:

“Voice & Vote” Follow-up 2:

Thank you. We are collecting signatures of Portland voters  for the Community Budgeting for All initiative petition.  

Few Portlanders have access or influence over the City budget process, which is distant, inaccessible and dominated by wealthy and influential groups.

The petition would allow ordinary Portlanders to deliberate and decide how to spend 2% of the City budget (roughly $15 million annually), in a transparent process that gives them real power over real money. This will broaden participation and improve representation in how money is spent; it will put residents not City staff in the driver seat. This is particularly important for underrepresented groups with vital lived-experience and knowledge about what they need from their City. The petition  would require the City to start the new community budgeting process by 2027.  This type of community-driven budgeting is already practiced in multiple US towns and cities, including every other major West Coast City. 

Are you a registered Portland voter? Will you sign this petition to support putting the proposal on the ballot in November 2024?

“Community Budgeting” Pitch 3:

I am a volunteer for the Community Budgeting for All Campaign. Would you sign an initiative petition to allow all Portlanders to come together, deliberate and decide how to spend a portion of the City Budget? 

If the person responds and gives you a moment of attention, move rapidly to explain the opportunity in the Community Budgeting for All petition:

“Community Budgeting'' Follow-up 3:

If adopted by Portland voters, the City Council would be required to create a community budgeting process. This new process would invite all Portlander to participate in neighborhood assemblies, identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and develop ideas into neighborhood projects or City-wide programs. Feasible proposals would then be subject to a vote open to all residents. Winning projects or programs would be implemented by the City Bureaus. The process- already implemented in dozens of US cities and towns- would recur annually. It will bring Portlanders together regularly to build relationships & trust and forge shared solutions that can be implemented in partnership with City staff.

 

Are you a registered Portland voter? Will you sign this petition to support putting the proposal on the ballot in November 2024?

If and when they start signing the petition:


As you hand them the pen and clipboard, it's helpful to remind them to write legibly. For example, you can say “Be sure your signature and address match what's on file in your voter registration so your signature will count.”

If potential signers are unsure if they are Portland voters, it might help to ask them if they received a ballot in the mail in the most recent election. But if they are unsure there is no harm in signing if you don’t know. If voters want more information on the proposal, see “Prepare with Information” section below.

II. Preparation Tips

A. Prepare Emotionally

Engaging your fellow Portland voters and asking them to take action by signing the petition is the hard but vital work of democracy. Most voters are isolated and can feel cynical, powerless or discouraged about politics. This itself can feel discouraging to you. These feelings make us less likely to engage and take constructive action. 

The good news is this is precisely the problem we are trying to solve with the Community Budgeting For All Campaign. By redistributing power to all Portlanders to exercise their power together, it offers everyone the opportunity to collectively shape decisions that affect their lives. Few people, and very few Portlanders, wouldn’t want to take advantage of that, especially in their own City if they knew it was a possibility.

In addition, the more you connect with and show  your own hope and passion for transforming our city the more you’ll be able to cut through people’s cynicism and sense of powerlessness. But if or when it gets challenging remember you are not alone. Take a break, connect with a fellow signature gatherer, and do what you need to get support.

 

Remember: We are not alone and you can connect and rejuvenate yourself by reaching out to your fellow volunteers.
 

B. Prepare with Information

You don’t need to know all the details and facts about the proposal. If you don’t have an answer you can direct them to the campaign website www.pboregon.org (eventually www.communitybudgetingforall.com). However it can be helpful to ground yourself in both participatory budgeting and the basics of the Community Budgeting for All proposal. The information below should be enough for you to answer basic questions. See the FAQs on the website if you want more detailed information on PB, the proposal, and the Community Budgeting for All Campaign. Also you can refer to the copy of the Charter Amendment you must have with you when gathering signatures.

 

1. Participatory Budgeting Primers

For a quick primer how participatory budgeting works, watch these videos:

It may be most efficient to describe the PB process in the context of the specific Community Budgeting for All proposal.
 

2. Community Budgeting for All Proposal

The Community Budgeting For All Charter Amendment:

  • Annual or biannual participatory budgeting process open to all residents

  • Binding decisions by residents; winning projects implemented by the City.

  • Allocating a minimum 2% of General Fund 

  • (~$15 million in FY 26-27) minus process implementation costs.

  • Funding begins by July 2026, First PB Cycle begins July 2027.

  • Program evaluation to increase participation of underrepresented groups over time.

  • Periodic audit by City Auditor
     

Download the exact charter amendment language on the City of Portland Elections Website or at pboregon.org/gather.
 

III. Canvassing Strategies

As you spend time gathering signatures, you’ll become more skillful at engaging community members in ways that encourage them to pay attention to your message and help you get signatures faster. Here are some tips from experienced petitioners to get you started:

 

  • Make contact from a distance. When someone is approaching you on the sidewalk, don’t wait until they are within reach of your clipboard to talk to them. Wave, make eye contact, and speak your opening line loudly and slowly when they are twenty feet or more away. People are less likely to ignore you and walk past when they have more time to think. The same advice applies when you are approaching stationary people, for example, when canvassing picnic blankets on a park lawn or people waiting in a long line to get into an event.

  • Be aware of herd mentality. People naturally look to the behavior of others nearby for clues about what is desirable and what to avoid. When someone brushes you off, there is a high likelihood that anyone who observed that interaction will do the same. Consider waiting for a fresh batch of people to walk up before trying again. Conversely, watching someone sign tends to make others more favorable, so when someone is signing, hurry to ask everyone nearby whether they would also like to sign as soon as the clipboard is free.

  • Try to identify your best prospect. In particular, when approaching a group of friends or family members, guess who is most likely to sign and address that person directly. If they chose to sign, the others with them often will too.

  • Carry two to four clipboards and pens at a time. Filling out your full name and address takes some time, so in a high-traffic location you can gather signatures much faster if you have a few clipboards for multiple people to use simultaneously. When waiting to talk to the next person, hold the clipboards with a partially filled signature sheet on top so they can see that you’ve been getting interest.

  • Recruit Super Supporters: Found a super supporter? If someone is not only willing to sign the petition but enthused about it, keep engaging with them. Ask why this is important to them and remind them that you are a volunteer and that we need all the help we can get to make this happen. Let them know that they can find everything they need to gather signatures themselves at pboregon.org/gather. If you have extra materials and they are free at the moment, you can even help them start on the spot.

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