What does your organization need to get out of the 2020 election?
It’s a simple question, with many complicated answers. Do you need to provide a counterpoint to candidates on important issues, like an agricultural group may do with President Trump over trade? Do you need to get voters to the polls, as environmental organizations may undertake?
Whatever your needs, planning for advocacy in an election year can be a daunting prospect—and it needs to start now. To be effective, your program should be ready to go by December of 2019. Any later and the fast-moving primary season is apt to overwhelm your efforts.
That’s why Phone2Action created a free 12-page guide called How to Sharpen Your Advocacy in an Election Year. Written by experts with decades of experience, the guide covers the items to consider when creating a plan for your advocacy efforts.
“This election is heating up fast,” said Jeb Ory, founder and CEO of Phone2Action. “Organizations that have a plan in place and their machine ready will have a voice when the volume turns up next year.”
Focusing Your Efforts
Every plan starts with a goal—sometimes more than one—and considering these objectives first just makes sense. They will guide everything else you do, from creating strategy and tactics to adding capabilities. Here are some items to cover with your team:
- Issues. Which issues are the most important to your organization and your audience? Large organizations may have a large list of issues and, because they often have abundant resources, that is often fine. But for smaller organizations, this can be an area where less is more. You want your communications to be authoritative and influential. Stick to issues that are absolutely core to your mission.
- Candidates. Will your organization support or oppose specific candidates? How will it choose these candidates and how will it interact? These are often delicate questions and they deserve a full conversation at the highest level of your organization. Supporting the wrong candidate can alienate your audience.
- Geography. Does your organization focus on certain states or regions? For example, a company might focus on areas where it has factories or distribution centers. A foundation focused on immigration might focus on border states like California, Arizona and Texas. Choose where you want to have impact.
How Will You Define Success?
Of course, there are many other things your team may want to consider. Does your organization provide election-year materials such as candidate scorecards, and will you continue to do so? Will you add capabilities, such as a voter registration portal? Take stock of your needs, and the capabilities you require will become apparent.
Perhaps most important is a shared definition of how your organization will recognize success. After you have talked about issues, candidates, geography and other elements that define your goals, ask your team how you will know if your efforts are successful.
Advocacy alone is not enough—it has to accomplish your objective. While that objective may seem obvious, don’t be surprised if your team doesn’t immediately agree on the metrics to watch. Defining in advance which key performance indicators you will track is an important conversation. Will it be internal metrics? External polling? Election results?
Get some consensus on what constitutes a win. It will pay off in the months ahead, when the action heats up and the landscape gets noisy.
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