When asked to run a campaign in support of an issue, an advocacy manager must determine what type of campaign to run. While most people may think that all campaigns are the same, grassroots organizers know that some campaigns are more effective than others for specific issues. What type of campaign is right for the job, and how can advocacy technology help? We’ve already discussed three keys to a successful campaign, but there are many types of campaigns that each require a different tactic. Here are two types of grassroots campaigns that advocacy managers should know about.
Targeted campaigns are those where the message is from a specific set of grassroots supporters directed at a specific set of legislators. This type of campaign is often run when a bill is in committee and advocacy managers want committee members to vote to either keep the bill in committee or pass it out. A targeted campaign can also be used when a bill is coming up for a full chamber vote and you know which members do not support your position. In this situation it may be best to focus your energy on those people only, and use the supporters that can reach those members. Your grassroots system should allow you to create a universe of legislators to be the target of your lobbying efforts. This universe should be able to be one, ten, one hundred, or even more legislators of your choosing. Additionally, your system should allow you to choose supporters based on their relationship to the legislator, their voting district, or by some other grouping that you create in your system. In a targeted campaign, you are targeting the receiver of a message with a specific sender of the message, and your advocacy system should enable you to create those two universes and enable them to communicate.
Constituent campaigns are designed to impact legislators by utilizing the people that live in their districts as the conveyors of the message. You are mobilizing the people in your organization to contact their elected officials to send them your message. With this type of campaign, your advocacy system should be to match your supporters to their legislators automatically, by their address (their home address is where they vote and their work address is where they are affected by legislation in many cases). When you select a specific legislator to target with a constituent campaign, your system should be able to automatically select all of your supporters that are connected to that legislator to participate in the campaign. This makes it easy for the advocacy manager to quickly involve the people that can vote for targeted legislators.
The type of campaign you choose will determine how narrow or broad you campaign needs to be. If you want to canvas your state and impact a broad range of legislators with a significant number of supporters, a constituent campaign may be the best vehicle. On the other hand, if you want to reach a select few legislators and “get inside their heads,” then you would probably be better served with a targeted campaign to reach them using people that know them. Does your advocacy system allow you to run different types of campaigns? If not, it may be time to look for one that will.