The newsLINK Group - Mobilizing Grassroots Efforts

Editorial Library Category: Associations & Membership Topics: Grassroots Efforts Title: Mobilizing Grassroots Efforts Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Have you ever wondered what the secret sauce is for succeeding instead of falling? It isn’t much of a secret. Anyone can learn it. All you have to do is to think ahead a little. Editorial: Mobilizing Grassroots Efforts 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Have you ever wondered what the secret sauce is for succeeding instead of failing? It isn’t much of a secret. Anyone can learn it. All you have to do is to think ahead a little. This is as true for associations as it is for sports, business, and your personal life. When any sport is in its offseason, what do the coaches and the players spend their time doing? Players often work on improving their physical conditioning. Coaches analyze the last season and look for new team members to recruit, evaluate, and train. The break from the regular season is the time for evaluation and recalibration, not the time for late-night parties and putting on weight while the gym gets dusty. Suppose there is a bill that will affect your association and its members. You know you have a limited amount of time before the bill goes to committee or to a floor vote. If this is the moment you start scrambling to mobilize the grassroots, put information about the bill online, and identify potential allies who could talk to legislators, well, you’ve probably already lost the battle. If you do succeed in contacting people and organizing an effective campaign under pressure, that process will be more expensive and more labor-intensive than it had to be. Advance preparation would have made the entire process much easier. The best possible time to prepare to mobilize any grassroots effort takes place before the pressure is on. The following ideas can all help. All you have to do is work your way down the list, and you will make your life much easier as a result. Study the Past The goal is to look for patterns. Look at the email open rates, the click-through rates, the forwards, and the number of visits to the association’s website page. Determine which districts were most responsive to requests for help. Determine the number of contacts that had to be made before the association found a potential advocate. Once you had a list of potential advocates, how many conversations did it take before you felt like there was one you could call effective? Ask Questions Getting the perspective of other people is invaluable. It helps you figure out what you did right and what you did wrong. Have conversations with people who have helped you in the past. Talk to the people who were most committed so you can get their opinions on what they’ve done for you. What did they think about your calls to action? What are their opinions about making those calls to action more effective? Be methodical, and make sure you talk to anyone whose opinion would be helpful. Use the information to improve future calls to action. Make Helping Safe Figure out how to get the volunteers on your email list to do more than just read your emails to them. How can you do that? You need to figure out what it is you need them to do, and then decide how to make it as easy as possible for them to cooperate. That means having a defined offline structure and putting seasoned leaders in charge of it. For someone who is new to volunteering, the whole process might feel a little uncomfortable and maybe even a little dangerous. Work to make things as comfortable, safe, and familiar as you can. Think about how you would feel to do something if you didn’t know much about it ahead of time. Recruit Allies Industry leaders are the usual people to recruit when you have a campaign going. Legislators are not going to be surprised when an industry leader contacts them and gives them input. At the same time, how much more impact can your efforts have if you find constituents who are respected leaders but who are outside your industry? Who should be on your short list? What about constituents who donated to the legislators’ campaigns? Are there area