This first phase of the campaign is where you lay the groundwork that will ensure your success. It is where you recruit key advocates to your cause and ensure that they remain engaged. To start, think about these questions:
- Who are likely to be your strongest allies?
- Who can be your spokespeople? Who has the greatest credibility on this issue? To whom will decision makers listen?
- What organizations are likely to partner with you? What do they bring to the table?
- Who are likely to be your opponents? Who are their regular opponents?
- Where do members of various ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, disability, and racial groups in the community regularly congregate?
- What are the organizations in your community that advocate on behalf of different racial and ethnic communities? How can you build authentic bridges to those groups to engage them in your campaign?
- What are the organizations that work with youth with disabilities? How can you build authentic bridges to those groups to engage them in your campaign?
- Are there any alliances with community planners or developers, doctors, dietitians, nurses, researchers, school nutrition association, teachers, coaches, school boards, Parent Teacher Associations, or academics that could be explored?
- Who do you want to be your “everyday advocates,” the large group of people who speak out about the issues at hand?
- Do these “everyday advocates” represent the diversity of the communities most affected by the need for policy change?
- Where can you gather stories to share about your issue and how it affects your community?
Remember to consider reaching out to both organizations and individuals who might be interested in supporting your campaign. Reach out to these potential advocates via all channels available to you: social media, existing member databases, personal emails, blogs, paid advertisements, community outreach, tabling at street fairs and festivals, public announcements at places of worship, etc.
Be sure to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate materials; the wider you are able to cast your net, the more likely you are to recruit a diverse audience that cares about the changes you want to make. Stretch beyond your comfort zone.