Building a Successful Advocacy Program - Case Studies from Around the Country


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This presentation outlines some key tactics and strategies used to build successful grassroots advocacy programs.

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Building a Successful Advocacy Program - Case Studies from Around the Country

  1. 1. Building a Successful Advocacy Program – Case Studies From Around the Country Mike Dean Tipping Point Strategies
  2. 2. Challenges Facing Higher Education • Increased pressure for limited state resources • Cost of Higher Education continues to rise (health care and energy costs put a strain on budgets) • Oversight increasing from the Legislature, Governor, and Federal Government
  3. 3. Advocacy Programs are Critical to Addressing These Challenges • Better explain the value that Higher Education brings to the state • Identify multiple ways to educate and engage decision makers • Legislators listen to constituents
  4. 4. The Three Legs of Advocacy • Lobbying • Media • Grassroots Without all three legs – the stool falls over
  5. 5. Why is Grassroots Advocacy is Necessary? • Legislators listen to constituents • Educates and empowers major constituents • Unfiltered communication with audiences • It has become much easier to develop a network of supporters • Everyone else is doing it
  6. 6. Everyone Else Is Doing It - Business Southwest Airlines
  7. 7. Everyone Else Is Doing It – Local Governments Oklahoma Municipal League
  8. 8. Everyone Else Is Doing It – Local Governments “NLC and its grassroots network played a key role in defeating a multi-billion unfunded mandate-- estimated at $25 to $85 billion--to clean up MTBE- contaminated water in the energy bill, which passed last year.” - National League of Cities Newsletter
  9. 9. Everyone Else Is Doing It – Higher Education
  10. 10. Benefits of Grassroots Programs • Grassroots members can more effectively distribute messages into their community • Helps create a sense of community behind the institution • Alumni can be more likely to give financial support • Creates a Personal Face
  11. 11. Two Areas of Advocacy Programs • Traditional Grassroots • Grasstops
  12. 12. Gopher Football Stadium – Challenge • Gopher Stadium last on priority list at the Legislature • Strong opposition to public funding of stadiums • Concern that the request would pull money from academic requests • Frustration from Memorial Stadium decision
  13. 13. Gopher Football Stadium – Strategy • Build grassroots organization to educate legislators about U’s proposal – Use passion of alumni and boosters to build support. – Created contests to encourage people to spread the message – free things. • Spoke to them in their language • Empowered them to become political
  14. 14. Gopher Football Stadium Step 1 Recruitment Campaign • Develop a theme • Make it fun • Give away free things
  15. 15. Gopher Football Stadium Step 2 Contact Legislators • Create Urgency • Make it easy
  16. 16. Gopher Football Stadium Victory • After 2 ½ years • We sent out over 40 e-mails to supporters
  17. 17. Gopher Football Stadium – Results • Quickly built a list of 15,000 advocates in six months • Sent thousands of letters to legislators • Moved from last to first in legislators and the publics mind • Passed the stadium legislation • Excited big and small donors
  18. 18. Gopher Football Stadium – Results quot;I guess grass-roots advocacy really works. This is something so close to our hearts, bringing Gopher football back to campus.quot; - Margaret Sughrue Carlson, Chief Executive Officer University of Minnesota Alumni Association Star Tribune Newspaper
  19. 19. Georgia State – Challenge • Government Relations staff was limited • Untapped powerful alumni base
  20. 20. Georgia State
  21. 21. Georgia State – Strategy • Engage powerful alumni to advocate on behalf of institution • Alumni are chosen by campus president
  22. 22. Fresh Air – Challenge • Losing the public debate on the statewide smoking ban • Media covered personal stories of bar and restaurants going out of business • Legislation had stalled
  23. 23. Fresh Air – Strategy • Reframe the debate on health • Have bar and restaurant employees tell their personal stories on why they support smoke- free ordinances • Create a network of employees
  24. 24. Fresh Air – Strategy
  25. 25. Fresh Air – Results • Successfully reframed the debate • Recruited over 100 employees to tell their story • Won the Public Affairs Council Technology Grassroots Innovation Award
  26. 26. Lessons Learned From These Case Studies • Have a balanced approach • Technology makes it much easier • Quality vs Quantity • Use a theme to build excitement and support • Provide “Inside Information” • Engage supporters year-round • Create tiers of supporters
  27. 27. Other Key Lessons • Create a strategy and a plan • The more you put in the more you will get out • Internal constituents help shape public opinion – They can become your evangelists – If they are not talking to people about how great you are, then no one is
  28. 28. More Information Visit
  29. 29. Question and Answer