5Calls: Making political engagement accessible

Activists & Leaders

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Automation, global warming, healthcare, globalization, and septuagenarian presidents are all issues with roots reaching further back than the 21st century, yet they are some of the most pressing problems that millennials will have to solve. Donating to charities, subscribing to publications, and attending town halls are a few great avenues to channel your political enthusiasm, but one of the most effective tools at your disposal is also one that is increasingly neglected by millennials: making actual phone calls.

You probably didn’t need a poll to tell you what you’ve long known, but millennials prefer texts over calls by a wide margin. We also know that calling your representative carries a greater weight than emailing them. How do we square the circle?

Nick O’Neill may have created the solution in his site 5calls.org. Founded by O’Neill and his wife Rebecca Kaufman, and supported by a team of volunteers, 5 Calls is a simple online tool designed to maximize your cellular effectiveness.

“No one likes to make phone calls,” Mr. O’Neill says. “What we realized was that we could combat that by giving the right context for what steps you should take on the phone call and what was going to happen on that call.”

Consider the amount of time it would take you to research an issue, find the correct department to contact, find your representatives, and call with a succinct statement that politely gets your message across. It may not take more than a few minutes for the savvy Googler, but consider the range of issues you are passionate about, and the time will begin to accumulate.

5 Calls’ intuitive interface gets you to the correct representatives in seconds. “We put hyper-relevant issues, paired with 1-minute scripts that were clear and concise,” explains Mr. O’Neill. “Along with automatic representative lookups, there’s really nothing left to chance.”

For a generation as averse to phone calls as ours, an app that streamlines the process is the perfect bridge between millennials and their political representatives accustomed to traditional methods. Since its debut three months ago, 5 Calls has tallied over 1,100,000 phone calls. The sheer volume of calls can make the difference between the death or survival of Obama-era legislation like the ACA.

“Call numbers are tallied daily and reported to representatives,” says O’Neill, “giving them a pulse for their constituents that’s faster and more effective than any other method.”

If football is a game of inches, then politicking is a game of phone calls.

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