Personalize Your Advocacy with a Thank and Shame Campaign

November 12, 2019

When you’re launching a major advocacy campaign, you want every advocate possible to make their voice heard on the issue. You want every member in the halls of Capitol Hill or the state house to know where you stand on a particular bill.

But blasting every legislator with the same message isn’t the best strategy, because not all legislators are the same. They have different ideological viewpoints and their districts are differently impacted by the legislation in question. So how do you get your advocates to communicate your organization’s message to these officials, but in a personalized way that is targeted based on that legislators’ views on the bill?

The answer—a thank and shame campaign.

What is a thank and shame campaign?

A thank and shame campaign is a targeted grassroots advocacy campaign that sends distinct messages to legislators based on their actions on a given piece of legislation—typically their status as a cosponsor.

This means legislators who have signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill your team supports would get an email thanking them for their support, while those who are not yet co-sponsors would receive an email “shaming” them for their lack of support to this point. Or, if you’re in opposition to the bill, the messages would be flipped.

The Benefits of Giving Thanks

It’s common to use advocacy to implore a legislator to act a certain way, but what about the ones who have already acted the way your organization desired? They should hear from you, too! This thank you email serves two key functions:

First, it brands you as a thought leader. Your thank you note reminds the legislator that the topic of the legislation is within your policy landscape and they should consider you as a resource in the future when that topic arises in different legislation. Their cosponsorship on this particular bill may have been unrelated to your engagement with that office, but make sure you are on their mind the next time it comes up.

Second, it provides goodwill to that legislator. Too often, stakeholders are only sent messages when an organization needs something from them. Mix up your communications with thanks, asks, and other communications in your policy reputation calendar to maintain a strong relationship with an office.

How do I organize an effective thank and shame campaign?

The key to an effective thank and shame campaign is being organized with data and targeting efforts. Personalized messages are an especially effective strategy, but it’s detrimental if you send someone the wrong message. You don’t want to “shame” someone who is actually a legislative champion or “thank” someone who has yet to take the action you desire.

Sponsorship records are constantly changing as new members sign on to legislation. So how do you keep up and make sure you send the correct version of your organization’s message? We recommend building your grassroots campaign in an advocacy software system that integrates with your legislative tracking, so the two systems can communicate and keep data clean.

In Quorum you can make personalized thank and shame campaigns that automatically update as new sponsors sign on to a bill. You’ll never have to manually update who should be receiving a “thank” message and who should be receiving a “shame” message with data and automation you can trust. This way, you can spend more time activating your advocates and driving them to take action and less time worrying about if legislators are receiving the right messages.

See how the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) managed a thank and shame campaign with Quorum to fight the 2017 American Health Care Act.

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