Follow these 10 steps and your elected official will take your cause seriously

Group of advocates mobilizing for impactful change

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Are you passionate about a cause and want to make a difference? Do you feel frustrated that your efforts are not getting the attention they deserve? Do you want to mobilize your members and supporters to take action?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to learn how to launch a successful grassroots advocacy campaign. A grassroots advocacy campaign is a strategy that uses the collective power of your membership to influence decision-makers and create change.
I have been working in government relations for over 20 years, helping not-for-profit and corporate clients advocate for their interests. I have seen firsthand how politicians take things seriously when they hear from many voices with a united message.
In this blog post, I will share with you 10 steps to get you started on your own grassroots advocacy campaign. These steps are based on my experience and best practices from the field. Let’s dive in!

1. Mobilize a Unified Stand

The first step is to find common goals and values among your members and create a shared vision for your advocacy campaign. Remember, some of your members may be new to advocacy, so make the process as simple and organized as possible.

2. Draft the message

The next step is to craft a clear and compelling message that explains your issue, your ask, and your impact. This message will be the basis of your communication with decision-makers and the public. You may need to tailor your message slightly for different jurisdictions or audiences, but keep the core message consistent.

3. Compile Your Essential Contact List

The third step is to identify the people that your members should contact to deliver your message. This may include elected officials, government staff, agency representatives, media outlets, or other stakeholders. You should create a master list of all the potential contacts, and then assign each member a specific contact list based on their location or affiliation.

4. Equip Members with Effective Skills

The fourth step is to train your members on how to send, follow-up, and prepare for meetings with decision-makers. You should provide them with the tools and resources they need to be confident and persuasive advocates. This may include templates, scripts, talking points, factsheets, or webinars. You should also encourage them to share their personal stories and experiences to make the message more relatable and impactful.

5. Master the Art of Follow-Up Communication

The fifth step is to to train your members on the importance of building relationships with decision-makers through consistent follow-up. By doing so, you can ensure that your message is heard and acted upon. Providing your members with the necessary skills and resources to effectively communicate with decision-makers can help strengthen your advocacy efforts. I will share more tips on how to follow up effectively in a later post, but here are some substeps to get you started
• Remind your members that decision-makers are busy and may not respond right away. They are not ignoring you, they are just juggling many priorities. So be persistent and polite in your follow-up. Don’t give up until you get the meeting.
• Make sure that each member knows their riding and who they should contact. You can use public databases to find the email address of the person in their riding. You can also use tools like Swordfish to find their phone number and social media profiles.
• After the initial email, wait at least 48 hours to follow up with a phone call. Refer to the initial letter you sent and restate your ask. Be prepared to answer any questions or objections they may have.
• Follow up with another email after 48 hours from the phone call. Then call again 48 hours after that. Repeat this cycle until you get the meeting. You can also try to reach them on social media, but be tactful and respectful. Don’t spam them or be pushy. Try to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.

6. Establish Your Membership Support Hub

Your members will need a reliable point of contact to turn to when they have questions or require guidance. This support hub, or help center, should be staffed with knowledgeable individuals ready to provide clear instructions and address any concerns, helping to ensure the smooth running of your advocacy campaign.

7. Navigate Successful In-Person Meetings

Each member should have a short, one-page document on how to conduct in-person meetings with decision-makers. In-person meetings are one of the most effective ways to deliver your message and build relationships. You should offer your attendance if possible with video conferencing software this is increasingly more doable.

8. Leverage Post-Meeting Feedback

After each meeting, you should debrief with your members to help them process what went well and what could be improved, and what are the next steps and who is responsible for them.

9. Draft a Post-Meeting Memo

Take what you’ve gathered in your post meeting debrief and properly document it. This document will summarize the key points and agreements from the meeting, as well as the action items and deadlines. This will be useful when presenting to your leadership, other officials, and to determine an action plan. It will also help you to have a record of your campaign for future analysis.

10. Create An Action Plan

The last step is to create an action plan based on the results and outcomes of your campaign. Your campaign may have some challenges, but it will also have some successes that you can leverage to create change. You should document your goal, strategies, tactics, results, challenges, lessons, and recommendations. You should also develop phase 2 of your plan to keep the momentum going and to elicit changes.
Congratulations! You have just learned how to launch a successful grassroots advocacy campaign in 10 steps. I hope you found this blog post helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you and help you with your advocacy efforts. Thank you for reading and happy advocating!


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Tula Kerr-Knights

Tula uses a person-centered approach to design and implement innovative programming with a focus on creative, hands-on activities. She uses her experience with a variety of kinds of handiwork to bring fun and engaging activities to participants that give them the opportunity to experiment with new mediums and express themselves creatively!

Daniela Scerbo

Daniela uses a person-centered approach to design and implement innovative programming. She uses her work experience as a language instructor to continue bringing academic programming to our participants, such as a brand-new accessible Science program using games, hands-on experiments and more to make learning fun!

Rudy Barell

Rudy Is currently the Chief Operating Officer of DANI’s Place – a unique housing initiative for persons with cognitive challenges based in Ontario, Canada. His role is to oversee all operations, while creating a strategic growth and implementation plan to ultimately build-out this branch of DANI.
Rudy has been working for both the corporate and the not-for-profit sectors for the past 20 years, establishing himself as an expert in government relations, grant writing and strategic planning. He has had the great honour and pleasure to work with amazing organizations in various business spheres: manufacturing, health technology, medical associations, first nations, social service agencies and with all levels of government and their arms-length partners. He is most proud of his lovely wife, his three children and cannot forget his dear friend Disco Stu - his bunny.

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Francesco uses a person-centered approach to design and implement innovative programming that shares his love of sports with everyone! He uses team activities to foster positive relationships and cooperation among participants in a supportive environment. Francesco also oversees a paid vocational partnership with Stalco, where participants work independently as part-time employees.

Tal Bar

Tal started working at DANI in 2010 and has since become an integral part of the organization's journey. Today, as the Chief Operating Officer of DANI, Tal takes charge of various operations and services, as well as organizational development and community partnerships, which drive DANI's growth and enable it to make a significant impact. Tal is a firm believer in the power of inclusion, recognizing that every individual deserves the opportunity to participate, contribute, and be valued. Tal holds an MEd in developmental psychology and education and is currently enrolled in TMU's nonprofit management program.