Five Examples of Effective Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns

Following the 2016 presidential election, many Americans turned to grassroots advocacy to make their voices heard on new policies. With more campaigns, however, it becomes harder for advocacy organizations to break through the noise. So what makes an effective advocacy campaign?

Here are five examples of successful grassroots advocacy campaigns to learn from:

1. American Society of Anesthesiologists

2. American Farm Bureau

3. Veterans for American Ideals

4. Land Trust Alliance

5. End Rape on Campus

6. American Society of Anesthesiologists

7. National Alliance on Mental Illness

1. Grow Your Grasstops: American Society of Anesthesiologists

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has transformed their grassroots advocates, individuals who are willing to take actions online to contact their member of Congress, into grasstops advocates, who have built personal relationships with their representatives in Congress. To empower their audience, ASA has created a series of educational modules that they can share with potential grasstops advocates that teach anything from the basics of the branches of government to how to take action and build a relationship with a legislator.

But ASA doesn’t just send educational emails and then forget about their advocates. Using their email tool, ASA tracks who opens and engages with their emails. They use this information to then follow up with those who opted-in to the grasstops program, but have yet to take action.

Read ASA’s full case study to see how it used online tools to build an effective grassroots advocacy campaign.

2. Teach Your Advocates to Tell A Story: American Farm Bureau

The American Farm Bureau (AFB) often holds events which provide the opportunity for farmers to meet in person with legislators and their staff. Key to making these engagements successful is preparing advocates in advance so that they feel more comfortable in the meeting.

AFB prepares their advocates by training them to share their stories using Pixar’s three step storytelling model. Storytelling has proven itself as an effective grassroots advocacy strategy for AFB—months after a farmer told his personal story to his legislator during a Capitol Hill meeting, that legislator’s staff called the advocate back to discuss upcoming legislation because they had remembered his story.

Learn the three elements that should be a part of every story that a grassroots advocate shares with their elected official.

3. Utilize Online Advocacy Tools: Veterans for American Ideals

For many years, Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI) managed their grassroots advocacy campaigns with Excel spreadsheets and email marketing software. While this approach provided VFAI a way to communicate with supporters, they wanted a better system designed to activate their supporters.

VFAI invested in dedicated grassroots advocacy software for its most recent campaigns, and quickly began to realize the benefits of integrating their work into a digital platform. Their tool enabled them to sort their advocates by both standard and custom tags, which helped them keep data clean and quickly identify groupings in important categories like congressional district and level of prior engagement.

They also used their software to set up their own customized online action center. This tool improved the rate at which their advocates engaged by allowing them to tweet, email, or call their legislator all with one click.

Read VFAI's case study to see how they use one online advocacy platform to integrate its grassroots advocacy campaigns.

4. Let Your Advocates Report Back on Their Interactions: Land Trust Alliance

Your advocates can learn important insights in their meetings with legislators, whether it be during your organization's lobby day, a district site visit, or some other form of engagement. Provide advocates with a means for sharing this information with your organization. For the Land Trust Alliance, this means utilizing Quorum's interaction logger to ask advocates to follow up on their meetings.

“It’s a set of four or five questions that we’ve developed with a lot of room for them to provide feedback on what was discussed and what next steps should be taken,” Schwartz said.Read the Land Trust Alliance's case study to see how they use Quorum for information sharing with advocates.

5. Lower the Barrier to Action: End Rape on Campus

When End Rape on Campus needed their advocates to comment on a proposed regulation regarding Title IX, they knew that the typical means of doing so were complicated—the regulatory agency websites were hard to navigate, the regulation text was confusing, and sharing a personal story was not easy. So, they built a regulatory advocacy campaign that both educated advocates on how and why to participate and provided a way to comment, all from one page.

After the campaign was over and the comment period closed, EROC used Quorum to do robust reporting on the impact of their campaign (which drove over 6,000 individual comments).

Read EROC's full case study to see how the organization helped advocates make their voices heard.

6. Educate Your Advocates on Taking Action: American Society of Anesthesiologists

Writing or calling your legislator can be a scary or confusing task if you're new to advocacy. It can also be unclear why it's important for you to take action. By setting up a system of video modules to educate its advocates on the advocacy process, ASA could keep its advocates engaged, teach them about the organization's issues, and prepare them so they could act quickly when they needed to launch a campaign.

Read the American Society of Anesthesiologists's full case study to see how it educated its advocates so they were prepared to take action when a need arose.

7. Run Thank and Shame Campaigns: National Alliance on Mental Illness

By using Quorum's grassroots advocacy tools that are integrated with its legislative tracking database, NAMI's advocates could send personalized messages based on whether a legislator had signed on as a cosponsor or not. With this strategy, they could maintain engagement with every office, not just the ones they wanted to sway. Their legislative champions also received "thanks" messages, reminding them how important their action is to NAMI advocates.

Read NAMI's full case study to see how it uses a thank and shame strategy to engage every legislator on an issue.

To see how Quorum can help execute your grassroots advocacy campaigns, request a demo.

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