A grassroots advocacy group lives and dies by its member support. If members are engaged and utilized effectively, the grassroots movement can be a success. Previously, we have discussed member engagement and shown elements to a successful grassroots campaign, but we have not focused on how grassroots supporters can help shape these campaigns. What do grassroots advocacy managers need from their supporters, and how can they get it? Here are three things that your supporters can do for your campaign to make it a success.
Know Who Your Supporters Are
Typical advocacy groups have a large pool of potential supporters that they can access. For alumni or professional associations potential members can reach into the tens of thousands. Large groups of supporters can be helpful, but more and more legislators are indicating that they respond less to a high volume of communications. Legislators instead are more interested in quality communications from people they believe are concerned with the issues. This is why it is important to know who your supporters are. With grassroots advocacy software, grassroots managers can collect information from their membership. Using some basic information, like where people live, a good grassroots system will geo-code the address to the appropriate legislative district, allowing you to see exactly how many of your supporters live in each voting district, as well as who their elected officials are. This comes in handy when contacting officials for meetings because it allows you to tell them exactly how many people your organization are their constituents.
Allow Supporters To Become Advocates
There is a difference between having a list of warm bodies that might want to help and having a list of people who have stepped forward to tell you they want to help with your issues. It is always a big surprise to advocacy network managers when they realize that just because someone has joined an association or alumni group they are not passionate about the issues. With more current grassroots advocacy software, you can send out an ‘invitation to join’ your grassroots network, and encourage the universe of people who want to help to step forward and become an member of the team. Associations with a large group of members will likely have a subset of people willing to make phone calls and write letters, but if you are unable to identify these people it is a wasted opportunity. The invitation should be linked to the advocacy network, so people can sign in and have a mechanism to come back to the network site for more information. Once they have signed in, you end up with a contact list of interested people. Having a pool of supporters you know are willing to write emails will help you create an effective campaign, becaue these people will typically act when requested to contact their legislator. If your grassroots system does not allow you to electronically build your list of power advocates, then it is not helping you to get to best from your efforts.
Know Who They Know
Politics is a business of relationships, so once you have someone join your network, ask them to tell you who they know at the capitol. Your advocacy system should have built in tools to let them easily specify who they know in your state legislature, how they know them. In local and state government, politicians are part of the communities that they serve, so odds are that some of your supporters have personal relationships with them. A grassroots system in today’s era of advocacy should allow your supporters to identify who they know, how they know them, and what type of relationship they have. For example, one of your supporters may have gone to school with an elected official, one may have worked with them, or a supporter may even be related to a politician. By identifying these key relationships, advocacy managers are able to call on specific individuals to act instead of mobilizing their entire support structure. When it comes to conveying an issue, a single phone call from a close friend or relative can have a better effect then a dozen calls from random constituents.
You want to make your grassroots tools work for you, and not make you work harder to make them useful. A grassroots advocacy system can allow you to effectively collect important data on your supporters to make your campaign efforts a huge success. Want to know more about how these tools can help your advocacy group? Take an online tour!