Door knocking

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Going door knocking to engage with local residents can be an effective way to ensure you have engaged the whole of your target community.

What’s in it for them? Door knocking is likely to work best if you can offer something to the householder, such as a survey linked to a prize draw, tips and advice, or an invitation to become involved in an event, project or meeting.

Use a trusted communicator. You are more likely to receive a positive response on the doorstep if the person going door knocking is a trusted communicator who is somewhat recognised in the area, for example if they are a nearby neighbour or well-known local figure.

Information and resources. Take written material with you, such as leaflets or flyers, for people who might want to read more about your cause, group or projects. This could include a flyer about your group, with details of where to find more information and how to get involved, case studies from your project, or tips or guides for actions people can take. Alternatively, you could distribute leaflets or questionnaires in advance and go door knocking as a follow up activity to collect responses and register interests.

Prepare for questions or negative responses. Try to anticipate possible questions or negative responses that you might encounter on the doorstep to ensure you have a comeback. It is sensible to avoid places where you are aware that you will receive a negative reception, as this can have a detrimental effect on morale for volunteers carrying out the door knocking and can be a waste of time.

Targeting particular households and hard to reach groups. Door knocking can be used in a targeted way to ensure you have engaged a representative demographic and have reached out to more isolated groups, such as those who are elderly or have limited mobility.

Collect contact details. Have a means for people you meet to stay in touch if they are interested in your project. A sign-up sheet for your mailing list is a great start.

Case Studies
Country: Netherlands

In 2012 the village council of ‘s-Heer Hendrikskinderen initiated the development of a complete village plan to combine the preservation of quality of life and sustainable development. In 2014 a new and far-reaching plan was formulated to make the village energy neutral by 2020. To help to deliver this vision, door-to-door surveys were offered to local homeowners which provided an insight into the energy performance of homes and bespoke guidance on how to make homes more energy efficient and ‘life-cycle-proof’. Students from Zeeland University of Applied Science were involved with giving tailor made advice on insulation, installations and life-cycle resistance. Uptake of the surveys by homeowners was high at 76 percent.

Country: UK

Low Carbon West Oxford carried out active doorstep canvassing to target specific groups in their community, following the delivery of leaflets to every household. While they recognise that engaging high-income groups with the largest CO2 emissions, or people who are already ‘green’, could offer a relatively quick short-term route to cutting CO2, they seek to engage a mix of people of different tenures, ethnicities and ages in order to share the benefits from their projects more equally. They believe this will help to better mainstream low carbon living and make their projects more replicable and relevant in different contexts, maximising the potential for dissemination. After initial concerns that going door-to-door could be disturbing or imposing, the programme was a great success and they received very positive responses. Where they identified households that could be reluctant to sign up or get involved due to language barriers, shyness or lack of confidence they also offered help with translation, home visits, or to accompany them to meetings if they didn’t know other people.

Source: Low Carbon West Oxford and West Oxford Community Renewables (2010), Low Carbon Living: Power to make it possible