Recently I was included in a text message chain by a friend. He is a member of the county party’s central committee. The conversation centered around the amount of money the local party was willing to spend on campaign items to be sold or given away during the next several months. In addition to the fair booth, this would be the county party’s only outreach between now and November. In the course of 45 minutes, I received text after text discussing the number of yard signs to purchase, the number of t-shirts, hats, and buttons to buy. In the end, they decided to use nearly 15% of the committee’s operating budget to purchase a relatively small number of items. I believe they wanted my validation, what they got was my silence – I wish I would have spoken up and here is why.
The goal of every campaign (political or advocacy) is to rally support around an individual or a cause. Whether you want to elect someone to the local school board, influence a member of Congress or to choose the next President of the United States, it requires real people, taking real action. It needs real people because:
Yard signs DO NOT vote! T-Shirts DO NOT talk!
I would venture to guess that the number of people in this rural county of West-Central Ohio, of voting age, who do not know who is running for President of the United States is minimal. What we don't know is how the voters of this small Ohio County are going to vote and who among them is planning to vote. But we could and we should! We find out by engaging voters and encouraging them to vote.
Issue campaigns are not much different, and we often see people debate the equivalency of t-shirts and buttons while deciding how to allocate their advocacy budgets. They spend dollars to increase their number of Twitter followers and the number of "likes" on their Facebook page but do not allocate dollars to move them from liking to engaging.
Successful advocacy campaigns depend on fruitful outreach to real people. They require that real people have the tools necessary to engage on their behalf. Success requires action. To build successful advocacy campaigns, we must move beyond yard signs and buttons into a realm that allows for human-to-human contact.
Imagine a campaign that delivered a supporter talking to a decision maker at their son's soccer game or a voter sharing a personalized story with real-life examples at a meet and greet. Imagine an advocacy campaign that delivered calls from impacted individuals into an elected official's office thanking them for their work on their issue. Then think about the number of yard signs you saw driving to work. Which do you believe has the greatest impact?
If you are looking for real people to have real conversations, 29:11 can help.