Canvassing is a strategic campaign process targeted towards voter identification and/or "getting out the vote" (GOTV), but is also utilized by many nonprofit organizations as a means of fundraising and development. In most cases, neigborhood volunteers or paid workers go door-to-door or stand on busy streets and talk to targeted voters/members, oftentimes soliciting funds. Canvassing can also be done over the phone, aka telemarketing, but in this case canvassers only contact previously identified voters/members.
While many observers hail canvassing as the epitome of grassroots politics, in some cases, certain canvassing organizations have been criticized for exploiting the cheap labor of idealistic youth.
A Beginner's Guide to Door-to-Door Canvassing
Some Dangers of Door-to-Door Canvassing
Professional Canvassing Services:
Grassroots Campaigns Inc.,
United States Public Interest Research Group:
Yale study on the effectiveness of canvassing in terms of cost/benefit analysis:
Article dealing with the canvassing industry during the 2004 Presidential Election:
Series of articles about problems of canvassing and progressive youths: