The 5 Building Blocks of Successful Advocacy
3. Understand the motivation and priorities of public officials. Know what influence they may have in assisting or hindering an advocacy effort. Adapt your strategy to your target. Whether your advocacy is focused on Congress, state legislatures, regulators or business leaders, the basics of strategic targeting are the same:
- Get the backstory: Conduct a "power analysis" and know in detail the process for decision-making and who is most powerful at various stages of the process. Also, learn what you can about backgrounds, family histories, connections, upcoming public events or other information to help round out your knowledge.
- Learn priorities and preferences: What makes this official tick? How do they operate? Are they very vocal or do they get most of their work done behind the scenes? Even knowing something as simple as a target’s preferred method of communication—email, hand-written letters, or perhaps Twitter or another social media site—can be a tremendous asset.
- Plan accordingly: Findings to the previous points will drive the timing and development of your tactics.
4. Instill values of strong leadership. Individuals responsible for steering successful advocacy organizations are great at building high-valued, long-term relationships. Regardless of their title, they inspire action within the organization, motivating staff to perform at their very best. They have the ability to articulate a compelling vision and mobilize people around it—good leaders can be trusted among unlikely allies or manage long-standing opponents. It is important for all parties involved to believe and trust that they are working to achieve the agreed upon goals.
5. Embrace technology. The tools you’re using to mobilize action should not be an afterthought. Incorporate them early on in your phases for planning and organizing. With technology to track and listen to what is being said about important policies, understand who the influencers are, and both segment and target your supporter lists, you can organize your advocacy strategy more efficiently than ever before. The result—long lasting, high-quality supporter relationships that translate into increased engagement for your organization's cause.
There is no magic potion for successful advocacy. These five tips will get you started on the right path; however, it's the time and consistency with which they are applied that will drive success with your advocacy campaign. It is important to note that each effort must be customized based on the issue for that particular moment in time, and it will require creative decision-making to determine which path will be most successful.
Need to review the ground rules for nonprofit lobbying and advocacy? Refer to Salsa's May blog which addressed exactly who can lobby.
Salsa Labs (Salsa) helps nonprofits and political campaigns ignite action and fuel change around the world by growing and engaging a base of support online. For more information, visit Salsalabs.com.