This One Chart Will Change How You View Your Campaign

THIS TRAINGLE

This One Chart Will Change How You View Your Campaign

Ayelet Hines No Comments

I got an A in geometry. I never cleared calculus, but I know my shapes. Below is my favorite shape, the Health Impact Pyramid, developed by Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Let me tell you why it’s awesome.

health-equity-for-a-healthy-chicago-8-728

 

This pyramid illustrates the effectiveness of different types of public health work, but the concept can be transferred to pretty much any issue.

 

Education and counseling–working on one person at a time–are at the top of the pyramid. Just below that is ongoing medical care from doctors. Again, working on one person at a time.

 

The middle layer of the pyramid are one-time or infrequent interventions that have a lasting impact, like immunizations or smoking cessation programs, that are still delivered to one person at a time, though they may be delivered population-wide.

 

The fourth layer of the pyramid is what Dr. Frieden calls “changing the context to make individuals’ default decisions healthy,” by which he means public policies like clean water and safe roads. You don’t have to depend on people making the right choice to drink clean water versus contaminated water, or choosing safe roads over dangerous roads. There are only clean water and safe roads to choose from, because it’s the law. The default is the best choice, chosen by millions of people at a time.

 

The bottom layer of the pyramid addresses socioeconomic factors like poverty, education and homelessness. Again, affecting millions of people at a time.

 

The downward arrow on the left shows that the impact of the work is highest at the base of the pyramid, while their effectiveness is reduced as you climb towards the top.

 

The upward arrow on the right shows the effort required from an individual, with the least effort required from an individual at the bottom, where impact is the greatest, and the most effort required from an individual where the effectiveness is lowest.

 

Nutshell: The greatest improvements in people’s lives come from addressing the socioeconomic status of poor people and from enacting public policies that promote good health. The lower on the pyramid you work, the more people you’ll help, no matter what issue you work on.

 

Of course, work at each level is important, but the most powerful effects are found at the base.

 

The focus of many organizations is almost the inverse of this pyramid, where a lot of time and money is spent trying to teach people how to improve their own lives, through education about drug abuse, or media campaigns to encourage walking, but these are actually the least effective ways to change behavior and help lots of people at a time.

 

That doesn’t mean those efforts are wasted. But to be most effective, we need to move towards the root causes of problems found at the base of this pyramid. That’s the kind of advocacy I teach and do. When I worked on forest protection, I didn’t want to depend on the personality or whims of each individual forest manager, I wanted to change the law so it applied everywhere uniformly, so each forest manager only had one action to choose, and that was to protect forests.

 

Think about what level of the pyramid you work on. Does that feel right to you? Again, work at all layers is important, but some work has a bigger impact. Got questions or comments? I want to hear them so please post them below.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

  •      The 10 steps of power mapping
  • The questions to ask and where to find answers
  • Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

  • What coalitions do
  • Who to recruit
  • How to pick the best coalition name
  • Attracting diverse coalition partners10
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions

10 COmmandments

The Ten Commandments of Advocacy

Ayelet Hines No Comments

I love the Ten Commandments, especially when they aren’t on public property. Not coveting thy neighbor’s animals has always been tricky for me though. How does your campaign measure up to the Ten Commandments of Advocacy below?

 

  1. Start simple, get fancy later. There’s a lot you can do where you are with what you have.
  2. Know how policies are made, and work to improve them. Know how legislative bodies and executive branches at all levels of government work, including both how policies are passed and how programs are funded. Once you learn one, the others are pretty similar.
  3. Have a call to action. Ask people to do things for you, like make a phone call, sign a letter, give money, write something for the media, or recruit supporters.
  4. Talk and listen to people. What’s in between your own ears is great but not enough. Surround yourself with smart, honest people. Ask potential supporters what they care about and think ought to be done.
  5. Be flexible. Your campaign plan is a living document that will shift with changing conditions, but…
  6. Don’t get distracted. There will always be something else to work on. Stick to your vision and don’t get sidetracked.
  7. Base your campaign on solid data. Evidence tells you how big the problem is, who is affected by the problem, and that the problem isn’t random and can be solved by correcting specific things in specific places.
  8. Seek new skills. Always be looking for how to up your game. If you don’t, you’re doomed.
  9. Write down your plan, which needs to include your goals, targets, audiences, tactics and timeline.
  10. Look at your campaign through your audiences’ eyes, not just your own. Your audience includes policymakers, voters, supporters and the media.

 

Did I leave anything out? I’d love to hear about it, so please add more in the comments below.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

  •      The 10 steps of power mapping
  • The questions to ask and where to find answers
  • Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

  • What coalitions do
  • Who to recruit
  • How to pick the best coalition name
  • Attracting diverse coalition partners10
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions

5 Things You Can Say

5 Things To Say To Policymakers So They Say Yes To You

Ayelet Hines No Comments

In the debate over whether we should confront racism by changing hearts and minds or changing policy, I definitely fall in the changing policy camp, when I’m not dreaming about pressuring Hollywood to normalize race in the same way it normalized gay (Thanks, Ellen Degeneres!). Assuming you’re trying to win a specific policy change at some level of government from a specific person, which you should be doing, here are five things you can say to get your target policymakers closer to saying yes to you.

 

1) Poll numbers show that voters care enough about this issue to vote against you if you don’t give us what we want.

Policymakers want to keep their jobs. Your job is to pressure your target policymakers—the people who can give you what you want—into saying yes to you if they otherwise would say no. You do this by threatening their jobs. Elected policymakers lose their jobs when voters who care enough about an issue go to the polls and fire them.

 

2) I have a resolution here in support of my campaign that was signed by 200 congregations, parent organizations and business associations in your district.

Enlist the networks of organizations and congregations by getting them to sign on to a non-binding resolution, which alerts a policymaker that a whole lot of voters could hear about how he or she voted the wrong way on your issue. See #1.

 

3) We have to rent another bus to bring all the people who want to speak at the public comment hearing on our issue. But the TV crews are coming in their own van.

If there is a public hearing on your issue be sure to pack the room. And if you are able to pack the room, make sure all of your supporters are easily identifiable as supportive (think T-shirts, hats, pins). Then use the local media as your megaphone to reach potential voters. See #1.

 

4) What’s the best email address for my member of Congress/state legislator/mayor to send you letter in support of my campaign?

Policymakers are influenced by other policymakers both up and down the food chain, particularly from their own party. It helps them keep their jobs and get promoted to higher office.

 

5) Thanks, Close Associate of My Target Policymaker, for agreeing to make a call or write a letter to the policymaker in support of my campaign, using the talking points I provided you.

Grassroots are important, and so are grasstops—the people who already influence your target decision-makers.  Get people who your target trusts to deliver your message. I have an online course on how to engage grasstops in your campaign, how to find them, and what to ask them to do for you.

 

Got any others? I’d love to hear them so please post them below.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

  •      The 10 steps of power mapping
    ·      The questions to ask and where to find answers
    ·      Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

  •      What coalitions do
    ·      Who to recruit
    ·      How to pick the best coalition name
    ·      Attracting diverse coalition partners
    ·      Leadership & structure of coalitions

If You Can't Afford a Pollster

If You Can’t Afford a Pollster, Do This One Critical Thing

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Want to beat the National Rifle Association? Me too. I really admire the work of veteran campaigner Vinny DeMarco, who has some gun control victories under his belt. Part of his winning recipe is conducting opinion research, like polling and focus groups, to determine whether voters in a target policymaker’s district would actually vote for someone else if the policymaker voted the wrong way on his issue. If voters care enough about an issue to vote against a policymaker on a particular issue, Vinny runs with a campaign and threatens the policymaker’s job enough that he or she votes the right way. Opinion research is critical in a campaign against an opponent like the gun industry. But it’s expensive, often costing $20,000-$50,000. Yes, it’s cheaper to spend $25K to get your message and campaign right with opinion research than spend $100K getting it wrong and losing without it, but what if you just don’t have that kind of cash?

 

If you’re working at the municipal and county level, you probably can’t afford professional opinion research. Instead, engage in a systematic listening campaign in the community where you’re working, holding regular and ongoing conversations with individuals and organizations around the key points you think are essential to understanding what people will support or not. Ask them about what they might want to see in a policy proposal and gauge their commitment to your issue. Though your results won’t have the same rigor or depth as they would if you paid big bucks to a reputable pollster, you can still collect qualitative data.

 

Sometimes newspapers and other media outlets will do opinion research on your issue if they think it’s a hot topic. They might not pose the exact questions you’d ask or frame questions like you would, but the information they gather could still be very valuable to you. Sometimes they’ll post these questions in the opinion section or letters-to-the-editor page. Try to get to the media sources ahead of time to shape the questions, and of course drive as many of your supporters to the questions so the results are in your favor.

 

How do you begin a listening campaign? If you’ve been living anywhere for any length of time you know people who live in your community. Start having conversations with the people you’re comfortable approaching. This kind of relational organizing does two things: 1) it deepens relationships within your community so you can see if there’s an intersection between their concerns and your issue, and 2) the feedback collect through ongoing one-on-one conversations helps shape the figures you use about what people believe is going on and what they care about.

 

Start with people you know. During these conversations, always ask, “Who else should I talk to?” That’s how you’ll build your base. Through planned, regular listening sessions you’ll get a good sense for what the community supports and what missing ingredients you’ll need to fill in.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

  •      The 10 steps of power mapping
    ·      The questions to ask and where to find answers
    ·      Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

  •      What coalitions do
    ·      Who to recruit
    ·      How to pick the best coalition name
    ·      Attracting diverse coalition partners
    ·      Leadership & structure of coalitions

 

• How to Make Industry Beg for

The #1 Best Way to Get Industry to Beg for Regulation

Ayelet Hines No Comments

When I was in 5th grade my best friend died in a house fire. I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time, but decades down the road I assume the fire was started by a cigarette. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one out of every four home fire deaths is caused by smoking-related materials. So it follows that making cigarette fires less likely would save lives, and manufacturing cigarettes so they’re less likely to cause house fires should be the law. Since 1929, there’s been a movement to do just that.

 

As you can imagine, the tobacco industry has not been overjoyed with the prospect of regulations requiring fire-safe cigarettes. First the movement tried to get the industry to follow voluntary standards, to no effect. Federal legislation failed. So what were advocates to do? One way forward was to work at the state level to pass laws requiring that tobacco companies meet slightly different standards from one location to the next. Having to keep multiple governments happy costs businesses a lot of time and money. They’d rather make one product one way and be able to sell it everywhere, instead of have to meet different requirements in a bunch of different markets. In 2000, New York was the first state to adopt legislation requiring the tobacco industry to meet fire-safe standards—the first time cigarette makers were ever regulated anywhere in the world. By early 2006, four more states adopted legislation modeled after New York’s.

 

If I was a tobacco industry executive and advocates were working state by state to regulate me, I’d see the writing on the wall—that a grassroots movement could potentially pass slightly different laws in every state in a way that made it untenable to do business—and I’d do whatever I could to ensure that either all the states’ laws permitted me to sell the same product, or federal regulation made the requirements uniform everywhere.

 

Today, fire-safe cigarette legislation has been adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, all following model legislation passed in New York. What other movements can learn from this approach? What industries can you scare into protecting people by threatening to make it impossible to do business over a patchwork of regulations? How can you rein them in at the city, county, or state level first? Two industries immediately come to mind: 1) energy companies that are contributing to climate change, and 2) diaper companies, because I’m in a diaper-intensive period of my life (the first wave, when the diapers are on others, not on me) and I’d love to force manufacturers to make diapers that disappear instead of being one of the biggest waste streams in the county. Who wants to join me?

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

·      The 10 steps of power mapping
·      The questions to ask and where to find answers
·      Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

·      What coalitions do
·      Who to recruit
·      How to pick the best coalition name
·      Attracting diverse coalition partners
·      Leadership & structure of coalitions

Free Money From Congress - Change University

Free Money: 8 Proven Steps to Unlocking Funding from Congress

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Every program you care about needs funding, whether it’s feeding people or protecting kids or funding research for life-saving drugs or saving songbirds. You can help direct Congress to spend money on programs you care about if you follow these steps.

 

  1. Determine which federal agency carries out the work of the program you want to see funded. Let’s say it’s the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research on cancer drugs for kids. You can see here what the current spending is. If you need help finding current spending levels on programs you care about, get in touch.

 

  1. Determine how much you think Congress should spend on that program. Be able to justify your reasoning with solid economic data about how increased program funding will pay for itself and save the government money in the long run. This needs to be really detailed and professional, as if you were presenting it to a congressional committee yourself.

 

  1. Consult with the relevant staff at the government agency to learn about what they think their spending levels should be and why. You may need to make your case to the agency first about why you feel they should spend their budget the way you want it spent.

 

  1. Identify and recruit people affected by the problem you’re trying to solve. In this example, it could be family and friends of pediatric cancer patients, health care providers and medical researchers. Teach them how this process works and why their participation is important.

 

  1. Identify who the Program Associate Directors (PAD) is for your issue within the Office of Management and Budget. OMB is part of the executive branch that, among other things, oversees the development, presentation, and defense of the President’s budget and helps the executive agencies and Congress implement that budget. You want that funding to get into the President’s budget because it’s easier to start with that money in the President’s budget than it is begging for scraps through a congressional earmark later.

 

  1. Meet with the PAD and walk him or her through your issue and funding request. Tell the PAD that there is a group of affected people who want to discuss the issue with him or her.

 

  1. Schedule a meeting between the affected people and the PAD, who might also bring the relevant OMB budget examiners into the conversation.

 

  1. Encourage and assist affected constituents to maintain relationships with OMB staff. Have them send letters of support to OMB (just like you should already be doing with the subcommittee chairs of the relevant appropriations subcommittees).

 

 

There’s more to it than this, but this will get you started. Start building these relationships immediately if you haven’t already. Start this process two years before you want to see the funding there. Tell me how it goes and how I can help.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

·      The 10 steps of power mapping
·      The questions to ask and where to find answers
·      Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

·      What coalitions do
·      Who to recruit
·      How to pick the best coalition name
·      Attracting diverse coalition partners
·      Leadership & structure of coalitions

Give Your Campaign Framing a Check-UP

How to Give Your Campaign Framing a Check-Up

Ayelet Hines No Comments

As you think through how you’ll solve big problems in the world, you’ll have to know how to pull a smaller, winnable issue out of a huge, unmanageable problem. Your thinking about the problem, issue and solution will be shaped by how you frame them.

 

For example, let’s say you want to reduce obesity in America. Below are just a few examples of ways you could frame the problem, with each pointing to a different solution:

 

  • Individual behavior—People drink too many 398-oz Big Gulps so let’s tax them.
  • Socio-economic factors—Low-income people are surrounded by little other than junk food so let’s raise the minimum wage or change zoning laws to keep fast food out of the area.
  • Industry advertising—Coca Cola should not be permitted to advertise at family-friendly minor league baseball games so let’s ban soft drink ads in stadiums.
  • Food costs—Subsidies make unhealthy food artificially cheaper than fresh produce so let’s eliminate subsidies.
  • Cultural preferences—People from Country X eat way too much fat and are often unhealthy, so let’s not let them in our borders by tightening immigration laws.
  • Education—Kids need to know how to eat healthily so we must teach schoolchildren better eating habits.

 

Though there may be dozens of ways the problem might be solved, some potential solutions will garner more public sympathy than others. Some will be nearly impossible to achieve in your political climate. Some will face greater industry opposition than others. Some will require more resources than you have. If you frame the problem as “industry is making billions in profit at the cost of millions of lives”, that points to a solution that reins in the industry, so you better be ready for a long, expensive fight. Campaigns to achieve each of these possible solutions would be wildly different.

 

What can you realistically do with your current resources? Do your target policymakers’ constituents have more of an appetite for one over another? What kind of fight are you up for? Happy to discuss or answer questions, as always.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

  •      The 10 steps of power mapping
  • The questions to ask and where to find answers
  • Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

  • What coalitions do
  • Who to recruit
  • How to pick the best coalition name
  • Attracting diverse coalition partners10
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions

rookie

The Top 4 Rookie Advocacy Mistakes

Ayelet Hines No Comments

These common mistakes are easy to fall into if you and your team don’t make them part of your conversations. As you plan, check in with each other to make sure you aren’t committing these crimes against advocacy.

  1. Confusing a problem with an issue. “We want to do something about food deserts because all people in our area have to eat is Doritos and Mad Dog” is a great idea, but it’s not actionable. “We want to pass a city ordinance requiring that at least 60 percent of receipts from grocery and convenience stores come from non-alcohol, tobacco or junk food sales” is actionable, and thus an issue.
  2. Going for quick wins without gaining broad public support. Sometimes it’s possible to do something legislatively and get the powerbrokers on your side without having popular support. Friendly policymakers may do what you want them to do but get a lot of blowback from constituents if you haven’t laid a supportive foundation in the district. Without it, it may only take small number of unsupportive constituents to derail your progress. Also, in states where ballot initiatives are an option, this situation can lead to a ballot initiative sponsored by the “other side,” and a big loss.
  3. Focusing on big national issues when the odds are much better for a local win. With the polarization of federal politics, I’m more inclined than ever to keep campaigns local, where there’s still a middle ground and people are willing to negotiate and compromise. There are more endangered Javan rhinos than there are moderates in Congress, and more of them head for the exits every day (both the members and the rhinos). At the local level, policymakers are embedded in the same communities so working together may be more important for them than for people who can return to their separate corners of the country.

Also, if there’s large-scale opposition, it’s often easier to defeat that opposition at the local level than at the state or national level, and sometimes we can and do use action at the local level to push state or national policies. For example, when advocates were trying to make tobacco companies create and market self-extinguishing cigarettes, they got several states to introduce legislation mandating slightly different technical specifications in each state, in effect forcing tobacco companies to support a national standard so they didn’t have to create different cigarettes for each state.

  1. Not focusing on specific decision-makers: An acquaintance who works for a big environmental group recently told me his boss instructed him to round up all his canvassers and go to Capitol Hill to talk about why it’s a bad idea to drill off the South Atlantic coast. Who will make the decision? He didn’t know. How did the people he was bringing to the Hill correspond to the people who would be deciding? He didn’t know. The day amounted to a gigantic waste of time and resources. Focus on the specific people who can give you what you want, determine who influences then, what constituencies they listen to, and what tactics will be effective for each specific target.

 

Got questions? Happy to help however I can.

And if you haven’t downloaded these free tools, you can get them here:

  1. 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns
  • The 11-point plan that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins
  • The critical elements your campaign must have
  • Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers
  • Designed for beginners.

 

  1. Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions
  • Who to recruit
  • What coalitions do
  • How to pick a good coalition name
  • Attracting diverse coalition partners
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions
  • Designed for intermediate advocates.

 

  1.  Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers
  • Get policymakers to say yes to you by mobilizing their inner circles
  • The 10 steps of power mapping
  • The questions to ask and where to find answers
  • Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers
  • Designed for advanced advocates.

Power Mapping Guide Cover

New Free Power Mapping Guide——Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Get the Guide!

 

To crush your campaign you’ll need the right combination of grassroots power—a groundswell of regular citizens—plus support from the people your target decision-maker already trusts and listens to. How do you find those people? What do you ask them to do for you? How much of each do you need? What kind of research should you do on these influential people?

 

I wrote this new free guide to answer all these questions and walk you through how to draw your own “power map,” a web of relationships that will help you engage your target’s trusted inner circle.

 

Get it here and let me know if you have any questions about it. Use it to train your team. Send it to your volunteers to prep them about what you’ll do when you come together to make your power map, so people show up having already done some research. My #1 goal is to help you succeed. Please tell me what you think of the guide, and let me know how I can help.

mentor

How to Find an Advocacy Mentor

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Spoiler Alert: Your mentor doesn’t even have to be alive!

 

Gone are the days when senior organizers would take the time to guide younger ones. Today older workers, those in their 50s and 60s who may have been part of successful movements, need to justify their salaries. They can’t jettison responsibilities to take younger people under their wings. Looking for a mentor who has the time, skills and patience to show you the ropes is like finding a needle in a haystack. In fact, it’s kind of like the time my boss wanted me to find and hire a field organizer who was a Spanish-speaking African American with lobbying experience, connections to faith communities, and who had reporters on speed-dial. Right. With a unicorn on a leash.

 

The mentor you’re hoping for likely doesn’t exist, so here’s what to do instead. Make yourself a mentorship board made up of individuals from whom you will learn very specific skills or traits. Forget the idea that you might learn an entire vocation from one person. Instead, listen to podcasts on your topic and others. Delve into other fields and industries and you’ll be surprised how thinking in unrelated fields will affect your thinking about yours.

 

Your mentors don’t have to be near you at all; you can learn from them from a distance. They could even be historical figures. Read biographies and autobiographies. My favorite genre is memoires because I love learning about people’s journeys and seeing my own journey in theirs.

 

Get to know someone before you ask them to mentor you, and then be very specific about what you want. Be very specific about how much time you want from them so they aren’t scared to help you. You can say something like, “I really would like you to be my mentor, and what that means is that I’ll buy you breakfast once every six months so I can get your feedback on some questions I have.” You don’t even have to tell them they’re your mentor. You could just tell them how helpful it was to get together with them, and ask if you could do it again.

 

When I was an undergraduate I wanted a mentor, so I walked down the halls of my department’s building and knocked on doors asking professors if they’d mentor me. I heard a few no’s, but then I heard a yes, which is all I needed. I worked with that professor for years and published a paper with him, which I couldn’t even tell you the meaning of today. But I learned a ton… about plant systematics.

 

Now I have mentors in advocacy. Some know they’re my mentors and other don’t. Some are dead, like Emma Goldman, and others I meet with for lunch every few months. I don’t take the dead ones out for lunch. If money’s tight, suggest a beverage instead of a meal. If you meet your mentor at Starbucks, order off their secret “short” menu and get out of there for under $3.

 

What would you like to learn? Who can teach it to you? Need help finding a mentor? Let me know by posting here.

 

And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.

1) 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.

2) Laser Focus on Power: How to Find & Engage Influencers

  •      The 10 steps of power mapping
  • The questions to ask and where to find answers
  • Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers

3) Power Up & Amplify: Turbocharge Your Campaign Through Coalitions

  • What coalitions do
  • Who to recruit
  • How to pick the best coalition name
  • Attracting diverse coalition partners10
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions

I’m Ayelet

Ayelet Hines - Change University

For over 20 years, I’ve helped people win campaigns on progressive Issues.

About Me

Download My Free Guide

Enter your name and email below to download my free Campaigning Essentials guide.