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Coalitions are Like Your Boyfriends

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Get the new guide here!

Coalitions are like boyfriends. Some don’t last long while others are pure magic. Sometimes you leave them, other times they leave you. Sometimes you get great things done together and then conscientiously uncouple like Gwyneth and Chris, while other times you leave a coalition in a NYC hotel room on his 40th birthday because he’s being a total jerk.

 

There’s strength in numbers, so you should constantly find new ways to develop and strengthen relationships with other organizations. By identifying, contacting and forging partnerships with other organizations your campaign will broaden its per­spective, enhance its credibility, expand its resources, and out-organize the opposition. For an outstanding read on successful coalition-building, read Michael Pertschuk’s book The DeMarco Factor, about Baltimore-based organizer Vinny DeMarco, on whom I have a serious organizer crush. It contains Vinny’s secrets to success around the country. Read it if you want to win.

 

Jim Shultz, author of The Democracy Owners’ Manual, calls coalition-building “an unnatural act between partially consenting adults with the lights on.” In practice, coalitions can take many different forms – from a very informal network, to an ad hoc group of organizations brought together for a specific, time-limited purpose, to more formal coalitions with a name, letterhead, and so on, and then on to permanent coalitions, with bylaws, dues, and other written agreements governing how they’ll function.

 

So why build a coalition? Tip O’Neill, the Massachusetts politician and long-time Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, once observed that, “Power is the appearance of power.” Coalitions represent large numbers of people; as such, they can provide that crucial appearance of power. Coalitions can also bring much-needed credibility and efficiency to organizing efforts.

 

Credibility—The more diverse a coalition is, the more legitimacy it has. Many coalitions exist mostly on paper and are comprised of organizations that work on very similar issues, but those are not the coalitions best suited to take on well-funded, powerful opponents. Environmental groups getting together to sign a letter is nice, but an environmental group joined by a sporting association, business owners and a church is better. In politics, strange bedfellows can be a powerful demonstration of the breadth of support for an issue.

 

Efficiency—Don’t waste your time recruiting your own individual members and forming new relationships when you can use other groups’ members and relationships. Pooling resources with other organizations is a smart move.

 

Determine whether forming a coalition will help you achieve your goals. Be sure a coalition makes sense at that particular point in your campaign. If the benefits outweigh the risks and you do decide to form a coalition, the right time to build it is about a year in advance. Shortly before your battle is not the best time to form a coalition. As the saying goes, you have to learn to walk before you can run, so working together in advance of a major fight yields better results.

 

Want to know more about the care and feeding of coalitions and what they can do for you? Download Power Up & Amplify, my free 6-page guide to coalitions, here. The guide covers

 

  • What groups to recruit
  • Where to begin
  • Who should attend your meetings
  • What coalitions do
  • How long coalitions should last
  • How to pick a good coalition name
  • Attracting diverse coalition partners
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions
  • Pitfalls
  • Y más!

 

Stay in touch about how it’s going!

 

P.S. 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

 

Wrestling With Pigs: 10 Tips for Debating Your Opposition

Ayelet Hines No Comments

It’s been said that debating the tobacco industry is like wrestling with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig loves it. If you’re considering debating an opposition industry, be prepared with these 10 tips.

 

 

  1. Whatever your issue, you’ll likely hear the same 3-5 opposition arguments over and over. Have your succinct responses ready.
  2. Never make anything up in the heat of the moment. If you don’t have a ready response, reiterate your key points so you’re controlling the conversation rather than reacting to your opponent or the moderator.
  3. It can be hard to win debates with your opposition. A risk you run in a public forum is that your opposition may have the opportunity to confuse the audience. Find out beforehand who you’ll be debating and research that person, get the moderator’s questions in advance if possible, and don’t be afraid to decline an invitation to appear if you think the event will simply be a platform for your opponent to advance his or her views.
  4. Role-play with your team so you’re not intimidated when it’s show time.
  5. If you use facts in anything (if you don’t you have a wee problem)—be it a press release, a report, blog post or anything else—use citations. It’ll save you lots of work and embarrassment later. You don’t want someone asking where your facts came from and you don’t know, or you have to go look it up, or it turns out your source isn’t reputable. If your confidence in a factoid is shaky, remove it, even if it’s a factoid you’re in love with.
  6. Sometimes you have to say yes to a debate because you don’t want your opponent on that platform alone. If that’s the case, be very familiar with what they’re going to argue and how you’ll respond. Inoculate your audience to what you predict your opponent will say: “My opponent will say this, but here’s the truth.”
  7. Industry arguments are remarkably similar from one issue to another. For example, if it’s a problem involving youth, the problem isn’t the industry, it’s education. Have an answer ready for that. Or it’s the parents’ fault, so have an answer for that too. Or there will be an individual freedom argument, or a job loss argument, or a pocketbook angle. Have responses ready for all of these. As you go through this list you may notice gaps in what you know, so fill them in. If you don’t have a response to the opposition’s jobs argument, you need to get one from a credible source. When I worked on national forests logging in East Texas, I didn’t have an answer to the jobs argument, so I had to come up with the funding to hire an environmental economist to write a report that filled that gap.
  8. You may think that you’re right, and if people just had facts they’d agree with you. But knowledge doesn’t typically lead to behavior change. You’re fighting for the minds and the hearts of your audience, which is why you need to frame your issue in a way people care about.
  9. “He’s lying” isn’t a sufficient response to your opponent.
  10. If possible, arrive in the room two hours early. Talk to people at the coffee station in the back of the room. Know where the restrooms are. Get a sense for the energy of the room and staff. Why? Because then when it’s show time, you’ll own the space. Your opponent will arrive on your turf and you’ll feel more comfortable and confident. This is also a good practice when you’re just giving a presentation.

 

Got any tips to share about debating your opponent? I’d love to learn from you, so please post them 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

How to Pass a Bill With No Supporters

Ayelet Hines No Comments

When I worked on a campaign to curb youth exposure to alcohol advertising, we had no members, no mailing list, and three years to impose restrictions on one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, DC. What do you do if you have no supporters and no reputation? You borrow someone else’s. Here are five steps I took to help build a movement that passed a bill to keep a gigantic industry in check.

 

  1. I called organizations that seemed like natural allies, introduced myself, said I was coming to town in a month, and asked if we could visit. I called groups that worked on substance abuse prevention, children’s advocates, teachers association, victims’ support networks, law enforcement groups, religious organizations… Any membership group that had an interest in kids and preventing problem drinking.
  2. I made a presentation and accompanying materials that I could not only show my audience, but that could be easily replicated, with a script, so any supporters I encountered could become presenters themselves, and engage their networks when I wasn’t around.
  3. Starting on my second trip to those places, I asked the groups that seemed interested in collaborating to join me in meetings with local lawmakers—city council members, attorneys general, state legislators and more. I handled all the logistics for the local advocates, who benefited from developing relationships and being seen as the local go-to group on a national issue.
  4. I supplied local advocates with a sample city council resolution, which gave them a fresh organizing tool around which to engage their supporters. When resolutions passed, local advocates showed them around back home to demonstrate support while I showed them around Washington, DC.
  5. I wanted to invite policymakers in Washington, DC to an event where they could learn about the issue and see there was broad support for it. Our campaign had no name recognition, so we asked a big national group with an aligned mission if they would host a breakfast for us. We handled all the logistics, but the invitation came from them.

 

 

Borrowing resources from other organizations helped advance our common goal of keeping the alcohol industry from targeting children with ads. There’s still more work to do, but some of those organizations I recruited around the country still work together, 10 years later, toward that and other shared goals. Do you have experience rallying support from scratch? I definitely want to learn from you, so please tell me about it 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

3 Easy Places to Unearth Political Champions

Ayelet Hines No Comments

So you’ve taken the enormous problem you want to solve in the world (like climate change), pulled a winnable issue out of it (like shutting down the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in your area), and you’ve identified what decision-makers can give you what you want. You’re ready to organize the individuals and constituencies the target decision-makers listen to, but your work would be a heck of a lot easier if you had a political champion.

 

What’s that, and how do you find one? A political champion is someone who will shepherd your issue through the political process. It’s someone who will stick her neck out for you because she’s committed to your issue. Preferably that champion will be in the same governing body that will be making the final decision on your issue, but she doesn’t have to be. Your champion just has to be someone who has influence over your target decision-makers and is willing to pressure them.

 

Here are three ways to figure out who might champion your issue.

 

  1. Look to see who has previously introduced related legislation. If you’re trying to make change at the national level through Congress, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php where you can search for legislation by key word. See who the original co-sponsors were on bills related to your issue and start there. Legislators who co-sponsor a bill might be supportive, but they may not be as committed as a legislator who originally introduced the bill. State legislatures and city councils may have similar online databases that can at least point you in the right direction.

 

  1. Look to see what committees any policymakers sat on in whatever legislative bodies they served in before, whether it’s city council, county council, a state legislature, executive branch or somewhere else. What were their pet issues before they assumed their current role?

 

  1. Talk to people. Movement-building is about relationships. Ask staff on the relevant committees who has championed legislation on your issue. Once you have a name or two, approach the policymaker and her staff, present the problem and your solution, how your solution would get paid for, and listen for signs of support. If that policymaker won’t champion your cause, ask if she knows someone who might. You should also think about who has the most to gain from being your champion, particularly in terms of an increase in jobs and money in her district. Who can use your issue to make themselves look good?

 

Once you find a political champion, you can ask that person to send supportive letters to other members of that governing body (which you write for the policymaker to make that person’s job easier), call the target decision-makers who can give you what you want, talk to policymakers in person during work sessions of the governing body, appear at press conferences, sign her name to a letter to the editor of a newspaper or an op-ed, submit comments for the public record, talk to reporters, host briefings for you so other policymakers and their staff can learn about your issue, convene hearings about your issue, and more.

 

If you’re working in lower-income countries there may not be a sophisticated online archive to mine, so you’ll have to ask people with long political memories who potential political champions might be.

 

Got questions or comments? Let me know 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 partners10
  • Leadership & structure of coalitions

 

Shiny New Penny Syndrome: Why the Left is Losing

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Can we back it up for a moment? Pull some things apart and take a hard look? I want to shine the light on a gap you don’t hear about much. It’s part of the reason the Left has been on the ropes the last 20 years, losing some of the big socio-economic fights for things like a fair minimum wage, reproductive rights, immigration, climate change and other campaigns that should be easier wins because they affect all or most of us. It’s not that the emperor has no clothes exactly, but the emperor is scantily clad, with many wardrobe malfunctions.

 

That emperor is online organizing, and all the tech tools progressive campaigners depend upon like Facebook fan pages, online action alerts and petitions, and Twitter virtual town halls. These are great low-cost, widely available tactics for building lists, raising money, and connecting otherwise isolated activists, and they absolutely have a place in a multifaceted campaign, integrated with offline tactics. But my fear is that we’ve raised a generation of hard-working, truly progressive activists who think winning tough campaigns will happen online.

 

Campaigns are won through relationships. Lighter lifts can be won through the low-investment actions people take through social networks. But the tough campaigns, the ones that will really change the socio-economic factors that will ripple throughout society, require greater investment that is only possible through relationships between real humans who talk to each other.

 

Supporters of online organizing believe social media have opened up civic engagement like the Gutenberg press opened up knowledge. Detractors of online organizing see a dependence on social media as a race to the bottom of political engagement. Today you absolutely need to do both online and offline organizing, but do most campaign staff know how to take things offline? What do you have supporters do when they step away from their screens? Are organizers taught how to extract a winnable issue from an enormous problem, frame the issue in a way regular people care about it, identify which specific policymakers can give them what they want, who they listen to, and what tactics they can do to them that will really move the needle?

 

If you’re lucky enough to go through in-person training programs like Midwest Academy, Wellstone Action, Green Corps, Direct Action Resource Training Center and a handful of others, you probably do. Thing is, most progressive activists will never get there because the cost, geography and convenience barriers are too high. This is one area where private industry is way ahead of us. For 25 years, you’ve been able to go online and learn everything you need to know about how to maximize corporate profits through online MBAs. There’s no equivalent for progressive organizers; there’s no one place organizers can go to get the 360-degree view they need in order to know which levers to pull when. Flipping the classroom and putting training in this skillset online while saving valuable face-time for solving problems and planning could do this relatively cheaply.

 

If you’re using an online petition to build your mailing list and raise money for your campaign, great. Be honest about that. But to think that directing thousands of identical form letters to a policymaker, sometimes even from people who don’t even have the option of voting for that policymaker, is delusional at best and misleading at worst. You’re wasting the good will of your supporters by leading them to believe they can make a big difference that way when one personal letter from an invested constituent means tons more. I’d rather see you pick up the phone, call constituents of the target decision-maker, and work on passing a city council resolution instead. Because then you can build the relationships that movements are made of. That’s political power far beyond any amount of Facebook “likes”, or the one-off successes of online petitions.

 

The Left in England recently had its ass handed to it by the Tories. I’m curious what the reaction of young, progressive idealists in the UK will be so I’ve been following the #RadicalAssembly as they try to form a movement in response. What I’ve observed there, like I’ve observed here, is a kneejerk turn toward either social networks or marches in the street, without much discussion of the many power-building options in between.

 

I’m fortunate to have a bird’s-eye view of advocacy. Because I’ve worked across the spectrum I can tell you when would be a good time to talk to legislative committee staff or hold a press conference or blockade a road or insert funding into the president’s budget proposal or hold a rally. I draw on that bird’s-eye view in every campaign I work on. Organizers should know how to direct money to programs they care about, whether it’s to keep air clean or public schools well funded or fair housing laws enforced. They can and should know why it’s important to become best friends with the people at the Office of Management and Budget who oversee how much money presidents asks for to fund government programs. Well-funded organizations may have policy departments where that knowledge lives, though that information often isn’t transmitted to organizers. Many local- and state-level groups don’t have the luxury of having policy and organizing departments, because they depend on very few people to get all the work done, and there’s often not funding to hire consultants to fill the knowledge gaps.

 

Online organizing exponentially increases the number of weak social connections affiliated with a cause. Somewhere among those weak ties are a few people who would take more meaningful action offline. (Of course, if you want those with lower income, less education, the elderly, or ethnic and racial minorities to take action, that’s another kettle of fish.) It’s a numbers game: the more people you ask, the more likely you are to find someone to agree to take meaningful action. That means you need to not only maximize your reach into social networks, but you need to have meaningful things to do for those who want more than point-and-click. It’s our job to equip those who recruit online with the 360-degree view of all the ways those online connections could be asked to engage offline.

 

The question to ask is not whether Arab Spring was a “Twitter revolution” or whether point-and-click activism is a waste of time. Instead, you need to ask what the offline social, political and economic context is of the digital tactics you have at your disposal. You can only measure the success of an online tactic against the offline context. Integration of offline and online is key, and to do that well, progressive organizers need to be trained in the bird’s-eye view. Until we fill this gap, we’ll leave young organizers ill equipped to solve the most pressing challenges of their generation.

 

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

Why Public Education Campaigns Are Not Enough

Ayelet Hines No Comments

The neighborhood pool opens in a week and I plan to get in shape by then. You know, get back to the 5-lbs. underweight I like to be because I was raised on Seventeen magazine. Surely I can lose two dress sizes by then. And because sitting is the new smoking, it’s also time to fire up my treadmill desk. For decades we’ve heard public service announcements about how exercise is the cure for what ails us, from diabetes to depression to heart disease. We see Michelle Obama harvesting vegetables from the White House garden with her ripped arms that could tie me in a knot, and ad campaigns featuring hot old guys on basketball courts telling us “This is how I do 60.” Yet two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Obviously we need more ads.

 

Or not. It’s difficult to reach all people or large groups with ads. And just because people know about something doesn’t mean they’ll change their behavior, as my favorite geometric shape, Dr. Thomas Frieden’s health impact pyramid, explains.

 

Public education isn’t enough. You must change public or private policy if you want long-term, enforceable change. Let’s look at some of the big wins, like, say, clean drinking water. You don’t have to convince me that drinking clean water is a better choice, because it’s the only choice, and it’s the only choice because that’s the law. Overconsumption of alcohol is still a problem, but it’s less of a problem because Candy Lightner and the good people of Mothers Against Drunk Driving changed the way we view alcohol, bringing about the 21 year-old minimum purchase age and tying states’ maximum blood alcohol content limits to federal highway funding. It’s passing public policies, like cities banning trans-fats so the industry has to offer healthier products, or banning sugared drinks in high schools so kids only have healthier options, that makes a difference.

 

Countless heroes have helped bring about changes in cars and clothing and communities and the environment, making the world better for all of us. Sometimes these changes have come about through the tireless work of a single person or small group of people. But the bigger the change, the more we need to organize a broad array of support. And to do that, we need to sharpen our campaigning and organizing skills. I want you to run successful campaigns to change policy, and will give away as much knowledge and as many tools as I can to help you win.

 

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 Expert Communications Tools to Win Your Campaign

Ayelet Hines No Comments

I’m amazed at the jargon that crops up in politics and business that people use to sound more in the loop than the next guy. If you’re talking to me about “onboarding” you’d better be teaching me how to water ski, and if we’re “top-grading” I want an A+ on my report card. I prefer “spreading good ideas” to a “diffusion strategy” and reserve “deliverables” for pizzas. It’s easy enough without jargon for plain-talking organizers to lose people when we’re talking about an issue, so here are 10 communications tools you must have to make it easier to tell your story and get people to act.

 

 

  1. One-pager — The most basic, compelling information about your campaign, limited to one side of one page. Must include the problem, solution, and action a policymaker should take. Any data you have on how the problem you’re solving affects the people who vote for your target policymaker will make this a stronger piece.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) — This answers the most commonly asked questions and provides general background about your issue and organization.
  3. Myths vs. Facts — You’ll hear the opposition’s same few arguments over and over. This is where you debunk them and say, “The tobacco industry’s representatives will tell you X, but the truth is actually Y.” Be prepared for your opposition to have arguments about how your campaign victory will cost jobs, encroach on someone’s personal liberties, or how it’s the individual’s problem, not the industry’s problem. Limit to one double-sided sheet.
  4. Economic Report — If you don’t have a report that shows how solving your problem will pay for itself by saving the government money, you should consider finding an economist in your field to write one. Politicians don’t want to throw money down a hole so show the economic benefits of your solution. This will really come in handy when I show you how to get government to direct money to programs you care about.
  5. PresentationCan be digital or hard copy but should be something with visual appeal, limited text, compelling graphics like maps and charts, the solution, and action a policymaker should take.
  6. 30-second SpeechI used to call this an elevator speech until I trained organizers who had never been in an elevator. This is a 30-second summary of your campaign that’s meant to capture the listener’s attention quickly. So, if someone asks what your group does, don’t say, “We’re a network of professionals who work to bring evidence-based solutions to the field in order to reduce morbidity and mortality.” Do say something like, “ChildSave helps save lives by connecting the most vulnerable children to clean water and medicine. There’s an important vote in the Senate tomorrow that could mean life or death to thousands of kids. Will you vote yes?”
  7. Persuasive Speech Should be three to five minutes in length, with a problem, good guy, bad guy, victim, solution and an action someone can take to help you win your campaign.
  8. Report/White Paper This makes your complete case, including original and reproduced research, charts, graphs, and maps. For those who want all the details.
  9. Photos/Video Of the people and places affected, to put a face and personal story on the problem.
  10. Briefing Book A notebook or folder you leave with a policymaker, their staff or a reporter that you update as you develop new materials. It gives you a reason to stop by, gain authority on the issue, and provides the recipient with all your arguments at their fingertips.

 

I give every communications piece I make the Mom Test. If my mother won’t understand it as I’ve written it, I need to use different words. Don’t use acronyms. Every piece should have your contact information easy to read and find at the top. Go to fiverr.com and for a few bucks you can find a graphic designer to make your tools look professional, or use canva.com and make it yourself for free.

 

Which of these do you have, and which do you need to make? How will you weave your campaign message throughout them? I’m happy to review your messaging if you post 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

BBQ Penguin, or Do You Have an Organizer’s Personality?

Ayelet Hines No Comments

Have you ever wondered whether you’re cut out for advocacy? Whether you have the personality to connect with people and move a campaign forward? There are so many critical roles in a campaign that you’re sure to find a comfortable role for yourself. For example, if you’re good with spreadsheets, we should work together, because I’d rather have a sharp stick in the eye than make an Excel formula. In fact, I was hired once to be a grassroots organizer, which isn’t what the organization needed at the time, so I ended up lobbying for them instead. When that was handled, the next tasks to get done were analyzing the Department of Commerce science budget line items. My eyes just crossed when I wrote that, by the way. I went to my boss and said, “This town is crawling with people who would love to analyze budgets for you, and I’m not one of them,” and I amicably resigned. I organize people to take action, whether those people are neighbors or policymakers or reporters, and none of that happens in cell D24 on a spreadsheet.

 

So while campaigns need people with different talents, people who fare better as organizers can roll with the punches. Organizing is subject to infinite variables—personalities, political realities, current events—and you need to be agile. I got my training in agility being the daughter of a circus vet, so nothing surprises me. I’ve seen everything.

 

Me: “Where’s Abba?” (That’s “father” in Hebrew, for you righteous gentiles.)

Mother: “He’s outside roasting a penguin on the grill.”

Me: “Oh, OK.”

 

That was when the penguins at Sea World were dying from a disease like scoliosis, and my father wanted to look at a spine from one of the diseased birds so he cremated it on the grill.

 

Or partying with carnies when your parents move to the middle of the neighborhood where Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus spends the winter:

 

“Ayelet, I’d like you to meet my neighbors and trapeze artists, the Flying Wallendas, and Mr. Johnson, the human cannonball. He’s the one with the cannon parked in his driveway.” It’s not as big up close as you’d think it would be.

 

Agility in campaigning is just as important as optimism. Those with eternal optimism make good organizers.

 

But you know who don’t make good organizers? Procrastinators. Ask my bosses and they’ll tell you that sometimes I get things done faster than they want me to. How? I keep running lists in my iPhone notes of things I need to get done in a day, organized by the value of each activity. Then I go through the list, spend about 15 minutes on each item and knock stuff out, getting to the high-value activities first. I pick up the phone and ask people to do things, without waiting for emails to go back and forth. I keep in mind that the end is near, not in a dark way, but in a there-are-not-enough-hours-left-in-my-life-to-be-idle way. Like when my gentleman caller Jon says to me, “There are not enough hours left in your life to scrub the baseboards” and I stop, because he’s right. Organizers’ desire to see things happening quickly can sometimes conflict with researchers’ and scientists’ interest in collecting and analyzing data, and not releasing it until it’s ready, so it’s important for the data people and organizers to understand one another.

 

If you aren’t naturally a people person, and you don’t automatically start conversations and maintain curiosity about people and their lives, you can learn how by doing it. So much of organizing is learned by doing, including how to expect the unexpected, and the optimism that comes from knowing that the world is forever changed once you’ve taken action.

 

Does this describe you? Should we hang out, or maybe even buy land together? I’d love to know so post your comments 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

Is It Possible to Work With Corporations?

Ayelet Hines No Comments

One of the most fun but completely ineffectual actions I’ve ever taken part in was singing anti-corporate Christmas carols at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. God, that was fun.

 

[to Jingle Bells]

“Shopping at the mall, lots of things to buy, we just want them all, but we don’t know why,” or

 

[to Twelve Days of Christmas]

“Rampant, corporate greed! Nine cents an hour, slave-labor shoes, toys made by kids. All gifts made in sweatshops overseas.”

 

That may have also been the time we handed out coupons to mall-goers for 50% off anything in the Disney Store made in the USA. Shoppers scurried in, only to discover…

 

Fast forward to modern times. I’m often asked if corporations must be adversaries, particularly now that so many have “sustainability” programs. I think it depends on the company and situation. It’s certainly possible to cooperate with corporations. They aren’t inherently adversarial. But it takes a lot of trust and innovation to build a relationship and develop solutions that work for all stakeholders. Environmental Defense Fund is really good at that, in a way that even passes my Earth First! sniff test. I spent some time in the no-compromise environmental movement, and one of our mottos was “No F-ing Compromise.” Environmental Defense Fund is a mainstream, buttoned-up group that works with corporations in a way that meets the no-f-ing-compromise test. They bring together industry, economists, scientists, attorneys and others who spend their entire careers thinking about one issue and come up with solutions that don’t sell out the environment while helping businesses’ bottom line. To see an example, you can read here about their partnership with Wal-Mart to phase out toxic chemicals form its inventory. Even a tiny concession by an industry giant like Wal-Mart can ripple through the business world. EDF excels at incentivizing good behavior, whereas other organizations are better at punishing bad behavior.

 

Some fields just can’t cooperate with corporations though. For example, how can public health advocates cooperate with tobacco companies? The conflicts of interest are just too big. Same goes with alcohol companies. If everyone drank at reasonably safe levels, alcohol companies would lose at least half of their sales. Groups working on obesity are trying to figure out how to work with food companies, because, unlike alcohol and tobacco, people actually need food to live, but many question how badly we need 96-oz. Big Gulps, for instance. The global boycott of Nestles products in the 1970s and early 1980s over Nestles’ marketing of infant formula is another example of conflicts of interest between food companies and public health. And in the case of prescription drugs, the industry does valuable research but prioritizes satisfying its bottom line, a motivation that leads to actions that are not always consistent with public health goals. In the early days of the HIV epidemic in particular, there was substantial campaigning and organizing around this issue. So there’s a continuum of engagement that appears possible, but conflicts of interest are a problem.

 

I think I still have the lyrics to all those Christmas carols. Let me know if you want me to dig them up 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

11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns

Ayelet Hines No Comments

If you want to solve global warming or world hunger, please don’t run out and print T-shirts. Seriously, I’ll cry. Instead, start with the 11 Proven Steps to Designing & Winning Campaigns tip sheet. Why? Because you need to write a campaign plan if you want to win, and contained therein are the steps you need to take. Get this tip sheet and make it your own. Give it to your staff, volunteers, board members, members, interns and anyone else you’re relying on to help deliver your victory, whether you’re working at the local, state, national, global, or kibbutz level. Use it as a quick reference guide when you sit down with your team to write your campaign plan. I’ll help you do that in detail later, but this is a great start. Read this and you’ll have a clue for things you should pay attention to, or even assign to someone so they come prepared to your planning session having already done some research.

 

Got any questions or comment about the cheat sheet? Leave them on the Facebook page and I’ll respond ASAP.

 

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) 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

2) 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

Shifting Power, Building Movements

Ayelet Hines - Change University

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

About Me

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