15 Advocacy Campaign Tips to Make an Effective Effort
Running an effective advocacy campaign takes skill and planning. No matter how big or small your effort, a basic structure can make a big difference in your wealth and results. Here are fifteen tips to run a successful advocacy campaign:
1. Have clear and measurable goals for your advocacy campaigns. Primary and secondary goals are important to effective advocacy campaigns. Make sure you understand what they are from the start and don’t confuse your goals with your tactics.
2. Plan, plan and plan. To ensure that you are ready to launch an effective advocacy campaign, you have a written plan and clear powers to make decisions.
3. Do your research. Do you know politics. Understand what to expect in terms of both the opposition and the other priorities you are facing.
4. Know who to influence. In order to achieve your advocacy goal, you need to know your goals. Whether they are elected officials, appointed officials, or officers, understand who they are and where to contact them. Who can help you influence these advocacy goals? Voters, board members, coalition partners? Perform power mapping to see who can put real pressure on to move your problem and effectively move your campaign.
5. Create urgency!
Deadlines are important. To have an effective advocacy campaign, you need urgency. Nothing creates action for the advocacy like an urgent deadline, and nothing encourages postponement like a vague one. Let people know it’s urgent. If you are fortunate enough to work on an advocacy campaign that has a tight schedule (e.g., you want to get a governor to veto a bill before the end of the legislature) (I use luck here) or maybe you are trying to get a local councilor to ask a question about the upcoming ballot) make sure your goals and advocates know the deadlines and that you convey the urgency. Set collection points. On the other hand, if your advocacy campaign doesn’t have a strict schedule (and the urgency that goes with it), create one! Set a specific date for your invoice to be submitted or approved by the committee. Make sure your advocates and goals know and believe the urgency of your schedule.
6. Make sure your lawyers know how to stand up for them. Explain what to do to help. Establish clear and simple ways for your lawyers to get involved. Can you sign a petition online? Are you calling your legislature? How about collecting petition signatures from your friends and neighbors? If it’s not an official form, can they download a PDF from your website to collect the signatures? How can super lawyers tell their stories and find out why this issue is important in their life? Can they add it to a story bank, step before a legislature on lobby day, or maybe speak at a press event? Don’t assume that people know. Tell them exactly what they need and what actions are most important.
7. Understand grass roots and grass stops. Make sure your build is suitable for base and grass stops actions. Don’t remove just one part because it will be easier for you. Both the base and the grass stops play an important role in advocacy.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for expert help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Planning and managing effective advocacy campaigns is not easy. At the Campaign Workshop, we work on advocacy campaigns every day – large and small, federal and local, across the country and even around the world.
9. Consider hiring a lobbyist. A lobbyist can play an important role in your program. Make sure you evaluate the need for one and define its role.
10. Have a paid communication strategy. A dedicated budget for paid communications can make a real difference in your program to achieve primary and secondary goals.
11. Have a PR strategy. Some people just rely on an inside strategy for advocacy grass stops and lobbying. Think about how a publicly available PR campaign can broaden your lobbying efforts and achieve your goals to make your issue a priority. Not all campaigns require a publicly available campaign, and not all of them receive press coverage, but many are supported by them and can have real PR impact. Make sure to ask if you need one.
12. Know your resources. Work with your coalition to get a real assessment of your people, your time, your money, and the strength of your coalition. Make sure everyone in your coalition is collaborating with resources in some way, and think of a buy-in that goes beyond mere money.
13. Legal work costs money. Make sure you have a real budget and try increasing it. Treat yourself to a high, medium, and low budget option. Don’t under-capitalize your efforts.
14. Create an intervention funnel. Understand the path you want people to take to become more involved with your problem. Think about simple and tough steps advocates can take and explain how they can help.
15. Evaluate your effective advocacy program. Have a plan for evaluation. Understand what success looks like and know how close you have come and what you can do to improve yourself in the future.