Working with advocacy campaigns is fascinating. To see the different ways groups have of engaging their communities and applying the pressure to meet their goals is amazing. Some are ingenious strategists, others find it daunting. Here we take a look at some of the feedback we have received on how to approach advocacy campaign strategy. We are indebted to our clients for this insight.
Thorough research of your issue is critical, not just to understand all the nuances of your issue, but so as to be aware of the history, competitors, opponents and allies that will be involved. Mapping this out can help everyone on your team to get up to speed quickly and will provide a place where the team can add information as it turns up. Strategy can only be built upon this foundation of know what you are about.
Listen To Your Community
Something that comes up regularly with our clients is the need to stay connected to the community you serve. The best way to do this is to commit to constant engagement, surveys, town halls and so on. The essence of this is a commitment to listening and recording what you hear. In this way, community and advocacy strategy remain in step.
Challenge The Media
Advocacy campaigns can be undone very quickly by a sweeping media narrative, just look at the media narratives swirling around in the Presidential race this year and how loosely they adhered to the facts. Both traditional media and new media need to be regularly challenged on the narratives they use. There is a multitude of strategies in this point alone but advocacy groups may use social media to present a counter-narrative or directly challenge the media source to back up their claims.
Advocates should invest time in building and maintaining strong relationships with all sectors that have an interest in their particular advocacy effort. While it may be tempting to work independently toward your goal, success is more often achieved when such entities join together. Once the coalition is established, advocates should ensure that time and resources are devoted to maintaining relationships with coalition members as well as broadening the network of influence.
Build Your Supporter Base
If you have a meaningful conversation with someone on the issue you are campaigning for, make sure it doesn't end there. We often enjoy the positive feeling when sharing views with like-minded people, but we need to move beyond that and take action. Engage with these people further and make them supporters. Add them to an email list, a text service or even a Facebook group. Connect on all platforms relative to your issue. Turn the non-committed into your loyal support base.
If I asked you what the goal of your advocacy campaign or group is, your answer may come out in the form of a mission statement: "Our aim is to abolish homelessness in the community," or "We want to find a solution to the pollution in the area". However, in order to make goals achievable, they need to be broken down into smaller areas and assigned to team members. Items such as community engagement goals, fundraising targets, new supporter onboarding goals need to be quantified and set for specific timeframes. The act of goal mapping underpins advocacy strategy and ensures your organization stays focused on the things that will really make a difference.
In the same way that you need to clearly map out your goals, it is important to try to understand the challenges you will face in achieving those aims. A challenging map is used by many organizations to sit next to the goal map, in fact, it is useful to identify key challenges in relation to each of your goals. This keeps a structure to your thinking and helps you to be ready for those challenges as they arise.
Implementing Advocacy Tools
There is a multitude of tools that can be used by advocacy groups in managing their day-to-day tasks and building community engagement. In the context of an advocacy strategy, though, there is a key skill that we see in our client companies that really sets them apart, namely community segmentation and follow-up. This is not one skill, but rather a set of core skills in managing their stakeholders such as coalition partners, government bodies, and their community. Being able to manage and visualize these stakeholders in one place, rather than spread over a variety of software, spreadsheets and bits of paper, is something that allows an organization to really make an impact. Segmenting by issue tagging, or survey response, or geography or support level, for example, gives you the ability to communicate much more effectively with people. It also has the effect of making you understand your community a lot better, as the very act of segmentation is a data analytic process. Given its key role in the success of an advocacy group we advise all our clients to focus, at least some, of their energies on this task.
Selection of Effective Strategies And Tactics
Developing your advocacy plan is the first part of the puzzle while implementing the plan is another. If you are using advocacy tools to help with your mission, then ensuring that your team and supporters understand how to effectively use them should be a priority.
You can do all this very easily with Ecanvasser. You can follow-up with your community with our email and issue tracking CRM system. You can track and measure the success of your advocacy campaigns with our custom analytics. You can onboard volunteers at the click of a button. And, you can bring on local chapters and delegate responsibility to individual campaign managers without even leaving the office.
Advocacy campaigns require a great deal of strategy in order to be successful but it is achievable through structured processes. If you would like to know more about to leverage the best technology to help you succeed, why not click the button below: