Kaye Beach

GRASSROOTS INFLUENCE

In activism on November 10, 2010 at 7:03 am

What is a Grassroots Advocacy (Lobbying)?

Grassroots Lobbing is simply the application of pressure on lawmakers or those holding public office that have the power to deliver what it is you want.  The corporate or paid lobbyists are definitely the pros.  Fortunately we have a few bargaining chips that they don’t have.

GRASSROOTS INFLUENCE

There are five main reasons that your elected representative cares about your priorities: voting, contributing, volunteering, visibility, and communication.

Voting Let your legislator know if a particular piece of legislation is a priority to you! If you are a constituent your priority is their priority. Nothing trumps the power you have as a voter to when it comes to establishing legislative priorities for your district.

Contributing Money-They have to have it. Even small donations are noticed and they raise the possibility of future support

Volunteering A third way to get the ear of a current or potential legislator is to volunteer for a candidate’s campaign. Volunteers are seldom forgotten.

Visibility People who are highly visible may represent and can influence a legislator’s constituency and contributors by virtue of being opinion leaders in their communities.

Communication. If you are a voter, a campaign contributor, a volunteer, or a community leader, then your elected officials want to make you happy, but they cannot read your mind. They depend on you to communicate your issues. Providing substantive information about specific legislation is a very valuable and influential way that constituents can interact with their legislators.

We sometimes assume that legislators simply count letters or phone calls related to an issue and don’t really care to about our individual experiences or arguments. Elected officials need and usually appreciate anecdotal, local stories to make the numbers related to a particular initiative come alive.

*Adapted from The One Hour Activist by Christopher Kush

How to be an Advocate

1.     Pick your issue

2.     Identify legislation

3.     Support or oppose it actively

What do Grassroots Advocates do?

•          Take action on alerts

•          Make calls

•          Visit with lawmakers

•          Provide testimony

•          Attend events

•          Recruit friends

•          Be a media liaison

Policy is changed one vote — one politician — at a time

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