Blog

How to Talk About Refugees: Don’t

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Planing to talk about refugees? Framing in terms of refugees is like framing in terms of climate change—if you’re sympathetic already then you don’t need convincing and if you aren’t sympathetic, those words don’t resonate. Immediate harm to children should be the message of choice (and is the truth). Only mention refugees so people know what executive order to oppose. The tobacco control movement figured this out. For years their message was about old people getting sick and dying from tobacco. Not so many people cared about that. But once they had data showing that addiction starts in childhood, they could say it was a pediatric disease, and more people cared when they perceived the immediate harm to children—the disease they could develop today (also the truth). The American Academy of Pediatrics and #6 of the Women’s Refugee Commission are the best messages on refugees that I’ve seen so far.

Need help with your campaign planning or messaging? Drop me a line. And pick up one or all of these free tools.

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 ChooseCampaign TacticsThat Get Results-3

How to Choose Campaign Tactics That Get Results

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Question: Which of these tactics have I actually done?

a) Stuff fur coat pockets with leaflets at Saks Fifth Avenue’s fur salon (fun when you’re 13)

b) Initiate conversations between White House staff, congressional staff and local stakeholders, which weren’t going to happen otherwise

c) Pack a congressional hearing with fishermen

d) Pass a dozen city council resolutions in support of an issue

e) Provide ground support for tree sits

f) Sing anti-corporate Christmas carols at the Mall of America on Black Friday

g) All of the above

 

The answer is g. In the nearly 30 years since I was chased out of Saks by security guards, I’ve learned that tactics must be rooted in strategy. Tactics that don’t advance your strategy are at best a waste of time and money, and at worst are counterproductive.

 

Effective tactics are the culmination of a process that begins by defining a concrete goal, then laying out a strategic plan for meeting that goal. Then come tactics in support of your strategy. Example: Curtailing alcohol marketing aimed at youth is a concrete goal. Mobilizing parents, supporting legislation, tightening regulation and influencing businesses’ behavior are strategic pathways toward that goal. Effective tactics directly help accomplish one or more of those strategies.

 

Tactics are the actions you take to influence the opinions and reactions of decision-makers. Concentrate on the ones that really move the needle.

 

Tactics should

 

Leave your organization stronger than it was before. Take a petition, for example. It not only demonstrates support for your cause; it also adds names to your list of potential activists.

Focus on your targets. They are the ones you need to move. Your tactics are there to support a concrete strategy aimed at creating a specific change. Sometimes, your tactic may have an ultimate audience of one—one CEO or one lawmaker.

Be backed by a specific demand. Tactics are means to an end, not an end in themselves. Ask yourself: What exactly are you asking to change, who can change it, and what will get them closer to action?

 

What purpose will your tactics serve?

Are you going to cost your opponent money?

Make their life harder?

Build unity among current supporters and attract new ones?

Will it surprise your opponent?

Will it target a specific person?

Will its effects be felt immediately or sometime in the future?

Will it teach members new skills and build your organization?

Will it be fun?

 

These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself. But think about potential pitfalls too.

 

What risks would the tactic expose your members to?

Will someone risk losing a job or be held liable for damages?

Could someone get arrested?

Do you risk antagonizing potential supporters?

Will this tactic be weak and ineffectual?

Will it pass unnoticed?

Can your opponents simply deny it and let the storm pass?

 

It’s a red flag when a team first sits down to discuss a campaign plan and starts with, “Let’s have a press conference,” or “Let’s issue a report,” or “Let’s have a demonstration,” or “Let’s build a website.” These may indeed be good choices. On the other hand, it might be too soon or too late for that particular choice. There may be groundwork that needs to be laid first. It might be too expensive for the likely payoff.

 

How did you arrive at the tactics you’ve chosen for your campaign? What’s been your favorite tactic so far? I always love hearing from you so let me know.

 

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 Fund Your Prgram

How to Fund Your Program In a Price-Sensitive World

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Is money so tight that you’re receiving pre-declined credit card offers in the mail? Are you a CEO who’s been relegated to mini golf? You’re not alone. More than five years after coming out of the Great Recession, dozens of states struggle to close budget gaps. But if you want to fund research, services for the homeless, programs for youth, or jobs programs for returning soldiers, you’ll need to convince policymakers to pony up funding for the programs you care about, regardless of budgets. But how?

 

One of the most important things I’ve learned working on policy is that you need to do as much work for policymakers and their staff as possible. Assume they do not have the answers and that people who work in different parts of government on the exact same topic do not speak to one another. That’s not because policymakers and their staff are slackers, it’s because they have so many competing priorities. Many people in government do the work of more than one person, so you should be prepared to make the complete case for why your program merits funding above others, and show with exacting detail how your program will pay for itself.

 

An economist in your field can help you determine how your program will save money and be self-funding. If you don’t have money to spend on an economist, consider finding graduate students at a university to partner with you to draft an economic report. Your report must address jobs gained or lost and/or saving tax dollars.

 

But economic language is only half the work of an economic report. Once the data people work their magic, you need communications people to work theirs. Because effective communication is the transfer of emotions, not facts, your economic report needs to be presented in language regular people understand and connect with. Factoids should be framed in easy-to-relate-to terms, like “so many miles of logging roads that they could stretch to the moon and back” or “alcohol is priced lower than milk or juice.” Once you have your digestible economic report, use it to create your few talking points, one-pager and other essential communications tools. Remember, you aren’t dumbing down your issue, you’re making it accessible to really busy people.

 

What have you done to make your economic argument? I always love to hear from you.

 

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

OCT

Learn from My Advocacy Mistakes

Ayelet Hines No Comments

I’ve made one or two or maybe a hundred mistakes in my day, and have witnessed some doozies made by others. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

1. If you’re an organizer, don’t work for an organization that has no organizing culture. You’ll lose your mind because you’ll be surrounded by missed opportunity. If you find yourself there, consider it a time to work in other areas and get new skills that will make you more marketable later.

2. I’m not a drinker but I see this one all the time: Don’t get wasted during a staff retreat. A former colleague did this, went back to his hotel room to pass out, woke up to use the bathroom, stepped half-asleep into the hallway thinking he’d walked through the bathroom door, and locked his naked self out in the hallway. Another time, my boss got drunk at a staff retreat and told me something I could sue her for, but I won’t because I’m not a litigious person and I like her. But really, it’s just not worth getting wasted at staff events. I know it can be fun, but what you do with coworkers is always on record. Like when you talk to a reporter, you’re always on the record. Period. Want to get crazy at a staff retreat? Wear a funny hat.

3. Embrace who you are. I had a boss tell me I was “unconventional,” and he didn’t mean it as a compliment. But there’s not much I can do about it, I’m a Jewish Buddhist vegan daughter of a circus veterinarian. I’ve partied with a human cannonball and I know how to fly an airplane. You can’t surprise me because I’ve seen everything, and know that anything can happen any time. Like e.e. cummings said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

4. Know the difference between authorizers and appropriators. If you don’t, you may very well be asking people to fulfill a request they can’t grant you, or if they grant it to you it may be meaningless. Budget drives policy, and even the best programs won’t make a bit of difference if there’s no funding to execute them.

5. Not everyone will love you or your campaign. But people whose support you seek don’t have to love you or your campaign because you can usually get by with a yes or a neutral.

6. Don’t trash your competitors, because you don’t know when you’ll have to work with them.

7. Don’t obsess about the One Decision-maker. There often isn’t just one. Sure, one person might officially sign off, but people all up and down the political food chain influence the process, so don’t overlook them. City councilors and mayors influence members of Congress, and vice versa.

What hard lessons have you learned as an advocate? I’d love to hear about them.

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

Steal This Resume(2)

Steal This Resume, and 8 More Tips to Land Your Next Advocacy Job

Ayelet Hines No Comments

In recent years I’ve spent lots of time training non-organizers to think like organizers—people like lawyers, doctors, and public health professionals who find themselves working alongside organizers and want to know how their skills can best compliment a campaign. I get almost as many general career questions as I do organizing questions, so I’m sharing some of my top tips here.

 

  1. Write a one-sentence mission statement for yourself so people know quickly how to help you. When someone asks you what you want or how they can help you, don’t launch into one of Fidel Castro’s five-hour-long speeches, say it in a sentence.

 

  1. Make emails as brief as you can. When asked how long it took him to prepare a speech, Woodrow Wilson is credited with saying, “It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.” Brevity is a craft.

 

  1. Networking events are not where executives hang out. It’s always good to be in circulation where you can meet people who you can truly help, but if you want to meet the people who hold the purse strings and do the hiring, go to…

 

  1. Fundraisers. If you don’t have the $300 ticket price to throw around, do this instead: Dress in your fineries, show up at the event, and offer the 23-year-old at the nametag table $30 to let you in. Let them turn away your money. Some may decline, but others will let you in as if you paid the full suggested donation. Once you’re in, strike up conversations and ask who else would be good for you to meet. Keep your helper ears on because if you show up wanting people to help you they’ll smell it from a mile away. If you show up wanting to help them, you and everyone else will feel more at ease. Consider yourself a connector of people to their next hire, dentist or nanny.

 

  1. Do ask busy people to help you with very specific things, like how to be sure you’ve picked the right target for your campaign. Do not ask busy people to show you around their office or to dump their entire brains on you.

 

  1. Assume you only get to ask a busy person to do one thing for you, because you may not get more than one bite at the apple.

 

  1. Take your contacts with you when you leave a job. Keep them warm through social media, and holiday cards if you’re old skool.

 

  1. Try your best to be kind. Always. To everyone.

 

  1. Lastly, steal this resume. It belongs to the fastest, most successful job finder I’ve ever met. And this is someone who took years off the work hamster wheel to travel the world and learn languages. Identifying particulars have been changed, but you’ll get the drift. I think it works because it quantifies her work performance and draws out specific skills.

 

What are you top professional tips? I’d love to hear them.

 

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

Untitled design

The Secret to Keeping Supporters Engaged

Ayelet Hines No Comments

I consider a volunteer to be anyone who could be doing something else with her time instead of talking to me. Whether you’re a funder, policymaker or voter, I need to do what I can to keep you engaged in my campaign. A great way to do this is with the ask-thank-inform-involve organization building cycle, as perfected by the Sierra Club. It looks like this:

 

Ask: “Hey, will you sign our letter to Senator Garcia?”

Thank: “Thanks for signing our letter! You’re such a superstar volunteer, you’re invited to our pizza party where you’ll receive an award.”

Inform: “Hey, remember that letter you signed to Senator Garcia? It caught his attention and he’s scheduled a hearing on our issue.”

Involve: “Will you be part of our pre-hearing organizing team? We’ll be assembling packets for the media and planning how to follow up afterwards.”

 

Be sure you’re asking people to do something that both interests them and is appropriate for their skill level. Don’t ask a new and inexperienced volunteer to run a press conference and don’t ask a former CEO to sharpen pencils. If you bore or overwhelm your volunteers they’ll go away. Managing volunteers’ expectations about how difficult it will be to win your particular campaign is important too. Little victories can help retain volunteers and boost morale for the long haul.

 

The ask-thank-inform-involve cycle is just the first step towards building a relationship. Don’t treat your supporters like they’re on an assembly line. You still have to find your energetic, reliable (and possibly overworked) volunteers and get to know their individual self-interests. Avoid relating to supporters like they’re tools toward your goals. Remember, people do things for their reasons, not for yours. Find out what’s in it for them. Do they want to develop new skills? Make new contacts? Look good to their bosses? You should help them get there.

 

What have you done to retain or repel volunteers? I want to hear about it.

 

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(1)

Help! My Boss Thought He Needed An Organizer But He Was Wrong

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Every couple of months I have an exchange that goes something like this:

 

Well-intentioned person: What kind of work do you do?

Me: I’m an organizer.

WIP: Thank goodness, my closet is a mess! I’ve been looking for someone to help me organize my shoes.

 

It’s safe to say that most of my family doesn’t know what I do for a living or know what an organizer is. During the times I’ve been a registered lobbyist, I’ve told them that I’m a lobbyist, and though they may not understand what that means, at least it’s a word they’ve heard of, even though they equate it with “sleaze bag.” You might expect more from employers, but I’ve been hired by two organizations when they thought they needed an organizer, but actually they didn’t.

 

The first time this happened I was hired to organize a campaign to change policies that were pushing certain workers out of the workplace. Let’s say they were hot-dog vendors. I reported to work and asked what policy change would help keep hot-dog vendors in the workforce so I could run with it, convene stakeholders, write a campaign plan, and make things happen in the field. But they didn’t know what would keep hot-dog vendors from being forced out of their jobs. So I got to know every expert on hot-dog vendors—the go-to people who regularly draft legislation pertaining to them—and even they didn’t know what kind of policy proposal would keep hot-dog vendors employed. Without a policy proposal there were no clear targets because it’s hard to get people to give you what you want if you don’t even know yourself what you want. “Fix this big messy problem, though we have no clue how” is not what you bring to policymakers.

 

After months of floating ideas from the top hot-dog vendor experts, none of which were right, I decided that the project was still in the think-tank phase of coming up with a policy solution, and not ready to organize the right people at the right time around the right requests. So I found a hot-dog vendor policy expert, suggested she take over, and I moved on with no hard feelings. They just weren’t ready for an organizer.

 

The second time I was hired by a group that thought they needed an organizer but didn’t was when I was brought on board to organize people of a certain profession around the country. For privacy’s sake, let’s say these people worked as live mannequins. My employer had regional offices around the country, so during the first week on the job I called staff in all those regional offices and said, “Hi, I’m Ayelet, and I was hired in Washington, DC to organize live mannequins in your area. How about we start with those you’re already in touch with?” Across the board they said, “Who are you? And why would I turn over my list of live mannequins to you? I’ve been developing those relationships for a decade.” Which is exactly what I would have said if I had called me. Fortunately there were many other jobs that needed to get done on that campaign so I worked on other things, but no one involved in hiring me anticipated that outcome.

 

Not the first time in human history that a group didn’t get buy-in from their field staff for a Washington, DC-based organizer.

 

New jobs are like new relationships, houses, cities and schools: they may look like great fits on paper, but you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you’re in it. If you find yourself working at a place that doesn’t need you, see what else needs to get done and build your skills in other areas. It’ll pay off later. If there’s nothing else to do, have a frank conversation with your boss. I recommend going to the highest boss you can get a meeting with because those people tend to understand what staff turnover and underutilized employees really cost the organization.

 

Have you ever been hired to do something the organization didn’t really need? Have you ever worked as a live mannequin? I want to hear all about it.

 

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

Why Your Job Must be Chief Sorting Officer

Ayelet Hines No Comments

At some points in your campaign you’ll need to persuade people to agree with you, like your primary targets and the secondary targets who influence them. Other times you’ll need to pressure people to take action. But when you’re first starting out, your job is to sort people. The bigger the challenge you take on, the bigger your core team needs to be. Sorting people is how you identify who is in your coalition of the willing to help you get the work done.

 

Early in my career I clocked hundreds of hours sitting at information tables for Amnesty International gathering petition signatures and collecting handwritten letters to help political prisoners, with the added benefit of getting in to U2 and R.E.M. concerts for free. Most passersby never stopped at my table. I put them on the What’s Wrong With These People? list in my mind. Many people did stop, took the actions I asked of them, and gave me their contact info on my sign-up sheet so I could get in touch with them later. Their names ended up on my list of people to call if I needed lots of warm bodies for a big event. Then there were two distinct types of humans who stopped at my table and engaged with wild enthusiasm. The first type shared personal stories about why human rights work meant so much to them and made it onto my list of potential leaders whom I invited to planning sessions and called upon to delegate organizing tasks to and build their skills.

 

But the other group of wildly enthusiastic people stopped by my table to debate. It took me a while to recognize this other time-sucking subspecies. They cared as little about my issue as the people who didn’t stop at all, but I let them take up too much of my time for too long, because I didn’t realize then that sorting people is a critical part of organizing.

 

Have a clear picture in your mind about who you are, what you want, what your goal is, and what kind of people you want to work with. With that in mind, people will sort themselves out. For every one person who wants to waste your time, there will be six who want to help. Be equally clear about who specifically you’ll need to persuade and pressure when you intend to have those conversations. You don’t need to pressure or persuade everyone.

 

Do you spend your limited time talking to the right people about the right things? Tell me all about it.

 

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 Lies

5 Lies Organizers Tell Themselves

Ayelet Hines No Comments

We all tell ourselves things that may not be true, like when I say, “If I eat small pieces of this pie throughout the day, I’ll still be able to fit into my pants.” My brain tells me one thing, while the pile of pants that must have shrunken fill a thrift store-bound bag on my closet floor. Do you ever tell yourself that lie, or any of these others?

 

1) “I’m a really good communicator.” We all like to think we have ideas that we effectively communicate to others, that the listener understands. No offense, but you’re probably not as good a communicator as you think you are. I’ve concluded that about myself after 25 years of talking to people and asking them to do things, and that’s after I’ve taken workshops, seminars and trainings in communications. We can always improve there, so it’s something to keep working at. A related lie is

 

2) “I’m a really good listener.” Listening is more than just not talking; it’s about finding the meaning of what people are saying. Good listening is when you say, “Tell me more about it, explain it further, and give me some background.”

 

3) “We’re winning.” I spent some time on the West Coast, working as an editor for the newspaper of the far-out environmental movement. Frontline activists would send us their stories about actions around the country and we’d print them. Get enough articles like that together and you’d think most of the world agrees with you. Turns out, most of the world didn’t, and not only were we creating an echo chamber, but we led people to believe a movement had more momentum than it did, and was more clever than it was. Some people took those beliefs in an unskillful direction, burning things down and landing themselves in jail for many years. Lesson: Don’t believe your own media. And for god sake, don’t burn things down.

 

4) “We’re losing.” Celebrate your victories along the way. But they have to be real victories, like things that wouldn’t have happened anyway.

 

5) “I’m not attached to the outcome,” of a meeting or phone call or effort. If you walk into a meeting feeling needy or desperate for a yes, like you want to coerce someone, then you’re attached and are probably not listening to what the person across from you is actually saying. If you were truly detached, you’d listen for how you can help make someone’s life easier or help that person meet a personal or professional goal, even if it doesn’t involve you. You’ll have better luck—and less stress—being detached. Being detached doesn’t mean you don’t care, it means that you’re letting events unfold without having a stranglehold on them. You can shape events without clinging. Ask the Buddha, he knew.

 

Have you ever told yourself a lie we could learn from? I’d love to hear about it.

 

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

 

 

setback

What You Must Do After a Campaign Setback

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Maybe things aren’t going your way on your campaign. I’m really sorry, buckaroo. Here’s what to do next:

 

  1. Interview people involved in the campaign, from volunteers to staff to policymakers to funders. Ask them how they think the campaign ended up where it did. What worked and what didn’t? If you interview people both inside and outside of your campaign, not only will you will get a good sense for what’s missing but you will also get buy-in from the people you talk to and they’ll be more likely to move forward with you. Invite lead volunteers to strategize and recalibrate with you, which in itself can be energizing.

 

  1. Walk back through the steps of your campaign plan. I know you wrote one because you can’t run a campaign without one, and if you get my emails I’ve even given you my campaign plan template. Did you frame your issue well? Did you build a broad enough coalition? Did you have the right messengers? Did you miss something that the polling was telling you, or is there another piece of polling you could do that would be more targeted to particular districts?

 

  1. Celebrate even the smallest victory with a celebration and a press event, get your coalition members there, and keep organizing.

 

  1. If your big win seems far off, work on smaller wins to keep people motivated and engaged. Keep recruiting and training leaders. That’s how campaigns build power for the big wins.

 

  1. Try another branch of government. If you’re not going to win in the legislature any time soon, try winning with another branch of government (executive or judicial), or at another level of government (local or county).

 

  1. Consider changing your ask. If you believe you have to change your ask, run your ideas past your most critical supporters like policymakers, funders, key staff and volunteer leadership.

 

  1. Set realistic goals for yourself. Accept that a victory might take years, even decades, and that your campaign may take two steps forward and one step back for a while. Make sure you’re working on something tangible and winnable. Try to take the long view that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did. Read his work and that of Henry David Thoreau and Emma Goldman or whoever inspires you, and see yourself as an heir to their legacy. Surround yourself with people who share your vision and those who believe that anything is possible. Do your part to train the next generation of activists, because there are some horizons you’ll just never reach yourself. Remind yourself that sometimes this work is like giving money to a person on the street who asks you for it. Will he drink it or smoke it? Who knows, but often what matters is your generosity and character in the moment. And if all that doesn’t work, call me at (202) 270-7365 and I’ll be your cheerleader.

 

  1. Look at failures as areas requiring more thought. You’re not “failing”, you’re gathering data.

 

  1. Find what’s hopeful out there. There are always things happening in the world, even on other issues, that can shore you up, if you can figure out how to find them. Just the fact that people have not given up on making change can give you hope.

 

Are you facing a setback? Have you overcome one? I’d love to hear about it.

 

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.

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