Mobilizing Conservatives for Action

mobilization 2An old Chinese proverb says that “To know and not to do is not to know”.

The whole point of identifying and informing conservatives politically is so that they can ultimately have an impact on something they care about. It’s one thing to get people riled up about something, but it’s another (more effective) thing to point them towards an outlet.

In other words, mobilizing conservatives for a specific shared purpose.

Organize to Mobilize:

An essential element of mobilization is organization.  Once you’ve got a group of people identified and informed around a particular issue, the larger the group (or the scope of action), the more you need to break things up into manageable chunks that specific people can be responsible for.  The same goes for areas you might be working on or want to keep tabs on, (such as different state or local government meetings, etc.).

When you keep things simpler and smaller, you keep it more organized. 

People may have good intentions, but they’re more likely to “do” when someone is specifically tasked with following up with them. They will feel more accountable to do what they’ve said they would.

Find a Trigger:

Depending on what issue (or issues) you’re involved with, this could be specific government meetings (such as a local school board), a petition effort to change text books, a fight over a local bond referendum, or lobbying state legislators over a specific piece of legislation.

A trigger needs to be directly and understandably relevant to the overall reason people are involved to begin with.  They need to be able to directly see and understand how taking a specific action will have an impact on the thing they care about.

The more specific, simple and direct the “triggers” are the better results you’ll see.

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People are busy.  Part of the reason they’ll join with you and others is that doing so provides them a service, or a “shorthand” way of letting someone else do the investigating into what needs to be done, how, when and where. So give it to them.

They’re ready to take action.  Just make an effort to give them the details.

How to Plan Grassroots Organization

grassroots organizationSo just how DO you get started with creating a local grassroots organization?  It’s simple and doesn’t take a lot of time, but action is critical.

We all know the hardest part of “doing” anything is getting started.  Having a plan makes it possible.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Map out a plan of action that’s appropriate for your neighborhood, precinct or area you want to organize.  Use it to spell out exactly what sort of impact you want to have and what activities you’ll focus on to make it happen…(along with “who” can do “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”, etc).

Keep upcoming events on the political calendar in mind when making these decisions, (such as pending elections, important issues to lobby with local government, Republican Party organizational meetings, etc.).

Evaluate these items in coordination with other like-minded people that you plan to work with.

Three steps to planning grassroots organization

1) Decide “what” you want to accomplish

List the major changes you would like to help make happen in your area.  Why do you want to get involved?  What do you want to change?  Be focused and specific – but realistic.

2) Decide “how” you want to do it

Choose the kind of activities that will help you bring about the changes you listed above.  Play to your strengths and make sure they’re the kind of things you have the resources to accomplish.  Then list the action steps you’ll need to take to complete each activity.

3) Decide “who” else you want to work with

Multiply your efforts by involving and coordinating with others.  Remember, many hands make light work.

Planning in this way gives you a a better shot at creating a grassroots organization that can truly impact the things you care about – and help you avoid getting burned out in the process.

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You can find out much more about political organization in precincts, churches and online in my “Beginner’s Guide to Grassroots Politics“!

Three reasons for conservative online organization

online organizationGiven that politics is all about people, it’s a natural fit for the Internet and online social networks.

In many ways the Internet is the ultimate “precinct” in America’s politics, in that everyone “lives” there.  The overwhelming majority of registered voters have online access, and huge (and increasing) percentages of them regularly access political information online, which puts them only one step away from taking action – if someone offers them the knowledge and the opportunity.

That’s where you come in.

The fact that so many people are using the Internet for political information and activity means that you should see it as a natural extension of your activism. And while the Internet is becoming an increasingly effective tool, it’s also becoming easier to use, which puts everyone on a more even playing field.

All of the fundamental elements of politics, (identifying, informing and mobilizing), have been impacted by the Internet. And as technology continues to change it will have increasing political applications, which means that you need to make an effort to use that technology in order to be as effective as possible.

Three benefits of online organization:

1) Easy organization:

The Internet can aid your organizational efforts by allowing your supporters the opportunity to engage with your cause or campaign without having to come to a headquarters or go to a meeting. It makes it easy for you to be “found”, allows them to participate on their own terms, and lets them easily and more effectively “spread the word” to others they know.

The Internet also makes it incredibly easy to do one of the most important preliminaries to grassroots organization – identification and recruit supporters. You can’t really do much in the way of organizing people until you have identified “who” cares about your issue, and you get this done with simple sign-up forms on a website, or even with free online petitions.

2) Easy communications:

Communications is key to being able to inform and mobilize supporters to take action. Whether it’s websites, social media or email newsletters, the Internet makes it easier for you to provide important information to your supporters, and makes it just as easy for them to share it with others.

This also better enables you to inform bloggers and members of the “mainstream media” that may want to cover your efforts or provide “rapid response” to misinformation. The more of YOUR information that’s available online, the better you can help fill a factual vacuum that would potentially be filled by your opposition.

3) Simple fundraising:

Online organizing can aid with fundraising simply by providing a central place where supporters can make a contribution.

Once you’ve got a fundraising page, you can link to it in email, on printed material, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Services like GoFundMe are great for most ad-hoc campaigns, or others like Piryx offer a cheap but more professional looking option for more involved efforts. They can also make fundraising viral, as it’s easier for your supporters to share a fundraising link with others, along with a message encouraging them to make a donation.

What to do?

You can approach online activity in one of two ways: either as an addition to what you want to do with an “offline” organization effort (such as precinct or church based), or as your only method of organization.

Good online efforts can help enhance and increase the productivity of your “offline” efforts, such as recruiting volunteers, sharing information, coordinating action and raising funds.

Whichever route your organizational efforts may take, you should plan to use the Internet as an integral part of your communications, organization and fundraising efforts.

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(Get more tips like these in my “Grassroots 101 Training Series“.  Check it out!)

Five Tools for Conservative Grassroots Organization

grassroots organizationGrassroots organizing is no different than pretty much anything else in life.  If you’re serious about doing anything, you need to make sure you have the right tools to get the job done.

Here’s a handy list of five of the most basic tools you should have at your disposal if you’re going to try and build a grassroots organization at the precinct level that can truly have an impact on the things you care about.

1) A list of all registered voters in your precinct

It’s hard to identify and organize if you don’t know who the registered voters are, (or aren’t), and in order to do that you need a recent copy of the voter registration list for your precinct (or whichever precinct you’re working in).

You can get this from your local election (or voter registration) board.

2) “Prospect” lists

Just like in sales, you make your job of finding the people you’re looking for easier if you have a “warm” list of prospects.

Conservative issue petitions, surveys or membership lists from conservative churches make great “prospect” list for potential conservative activists and voters.  They will make it easier for you to identify registered (and unregistered) conservatives by cross-referencing them with voter registration lists.

The result is that you know who lives in which precincts, and who is registered to vote and you could possibly approach about getting involved in your efforts.  You also find out who isn’t registered, so you can get them registered in the future.

3) Blank voter registration forms

Call your local voter registration office and get copies of your state’s voter registration form, (you may even be able to download it online, depending on where you live). You want enough copies for all of those unregistered conservatives you identified from your “prospect” lists.

If people aren’t registered, they can’t vote.  And if they don’t vote, they don’t count.

4) A map of the precinct

Having a map makes it easier to get an idea of who is where and how to get to them. You should be able to get this from your local planning commission or voter registration office, (or if not, they will probably know where you can).  Try to get one with street lines and names overlaid on it, to make it easier for you to use.

Remember, precincts are the building blocks of all other election districts, so you want to make sure your efforts revolve around individual precincts.

5) A political events calendar

Identifying conservatives and organizing them is one thing, but it is also important to keep them informed.  Set up a calendar to keep track of the dates of party primaries, general elections, special elections, school board, local council elections and meetings, as well as local political party meetings.

Let your people know what’s going on and how they can get involved.

Bottom line: do the basics

This is just a basic list, but that’s the point.  It’s “basic”.  Don’t get too distracted by anything that would keep you from focusing on the basics until you get them done.

(Find out more about grassroots organization in my training series!)

Three methods for conservative grassroots organization

grassroots organization

Whether you’re organizing for a campaign, a group or just an issue you care about, there are three areas where it pays for conservatives to focus their time.  And each area has different benefits and challenges.

1) Precinct Organization

Organizing by precinct is more geographically focused and as a result can have a more direct and greater potential impact on a specific area.

Political power in American flows from the precinct level upward, because precincts are the building blocks of the American political system.

Virtually every election district, from the school board on up, is a combination of various precincts.  They’re like the small pieces in a bigger jigsaw puzzle, which means that if you’re organized in the precincts you can influence an election – or have influence on an elected official who is interested in running for re-election.

2) Church Organization

Organizing in churches allows you to work with people you’re probably more familiar with, and are likely to have more in common with.  As a result, you may be able to get things moving more quickly.

Since a typical church’s membership may be spread across multiple precincts, focusing on churches also has the benefit of helping you “sow seeds” of activism in more than one area, (which means church organization can quickly feed “precinct organization”).

3) Online Organization

Online organization can exist on its own or as a compliment to church and/or precinct organization, (ex. online “groups” via Yahoo, Google, Ning or Facebook; or online petitions and campaigns at AktNow – or a combination).

And when you organize online, you make it easier to share information with others and for others to find you.

Online organization is also a great way to being to build a list of supporters that you can contact and keep informed.

Where to Focus Your Time?

In order to determine where you should focus your time and efforts, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What specifically do I want to impact or accomplish? Is it more educational and/or issue related, or is it more political?
  • Where do I know the most people who think like I do, and who are willing to help? (Hunt where the ducks are!)

Whichever type of organization you plan to focus on, remember that it all comes down to people. Politics is people.  And when you get enough people together with a common purpose, you’ve got grassroots organization. 

Real grassroots organization leads to political impact!

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(You can find tips like this and much more in my “Grassroots 101: Grassroots Training Series“.)