Civic Engagement and Advocacy Blog

8 Steps to Successful Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 10/24/13 11:30 AM

8 steps grassroots advocacySometimes the easy part of grassroots advocacy is finding people who are passionate about your cause. Where many grassroots campaigns stumble is when you start to translate passion into action, and then action into a movement. Talk is easy, sustainable action requires planning, dedication, and discipline. 

To build a successful grassroots advocacy movement, grassroots minded organizations should focus on these 8 key steps for successful grassroots advocacy campaigns.

  1. Set SMART goals. In order for a grassroots campaign to be successful, you must first define what success looks like. To do so, terming goals so that they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely will allow you to share with others what success looks like and how it will be accomplished.
  2. Create the strategy. Bridging the gap between goals and actions is where your strategy comes into play. Your grassroots strategy will determine which grassroots campaigns tactics will be most effective. There is no single grassroots campaign template you can use for your strategy. Instead develop a small team who can collaborate openly to develop a dynamic and diverse grassroots strategy.
  3. Clearly communicate. Your message needs to be simple and clear to the right audience. It also needs to reach them where they are. Your strategy should take into account who you are trying to reach, what message is important to them, and how they are most likely to receive that message. From print to blogs, the message and call to action for your audience must be relevant to them. 
  4. Use new media. New media isn't new anymore, and the fact remains that no matter how someone hears about your message, if they have access to the Internet they will go online to learn more. If you are not using new media, you are losing both credibility and the ability to expand your audience.
  5. Get fund raising. No matter how big a volunteer force, or how much passion and energy you have, successful grassroots advocacy still requires cash. Money for resources like advertising, advocacy tools, tables at events, feeding volunteers, etc., should all be laid out in your strategic plan so that you know how much you will need to fund raise. 
  6. Build coalitions. Grassroots advocacy is all about banding together like-minded people for a single purpose or cause. The same collaboration can, and should, happen between organizations. Organizations who learn to work together can bring about the policy changes that would have otherwise been impossible to impact separately and alone.
  7. Organize communities. This is where you start to execute on your strategy. Whether it is through formal events, directly on social media, or through door-to-door knocking or your partnering coalitions, how you organize should be focused on both how to motivate them individually and as a group. 
  8. Engage policymakers. Elected officials rely on the information from their constituents to make the right decisions and membership organizations can compile that information to educate them. Organizations who educate and engage policy makers on the views of the voter around specific issues will be seen as a credible and useful source of information. 
Organizations who are seeking to impact pending legislation, be a valuable resource to both their community and elected officials, and become a credible source of information can not afford to skip any of these steps. 
What additional steps have you tried to create, launch, and drive grassroots campaigns?
Carole Mahoney

Written by Carole Mahoney

With over ten years of experience in both for profit and for purpose (not profit) sectors, I have come to believe that engagement is the key. Non profits have an engagement advantage.

Topics: grassroots campaigns, grassroots advocacy

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