So You Want to Start an Advocacy Campaign?
By Jessica Elle Rosa | Communications and Media Specialist | HAI Group and the ReThink: Why Housing Matters Campaign
Advocacy is about dedicating one’s self to changing ‘what is’ into ‘what should be.’ HAI Group is dedicated to protecting and preserving affordable housing, which is why we created an advocacy campaign, ReThink: Why Housing Matters, in addition to a number of advocacy tools to help others advocate as well.
To create a successful advocacy campaign, one must start with three essential elements. These elements are people, a purpose, and a plan. These are, in a sense, the pillars of the origination of an advocacy campaign.
The first pillar is people and gathering people that all support a specific cause could be the most challenging part of starting a campaign. If you are starting a local advocacy program for public and affordable housing or an advocacy program for anything else, it may seem a bit harder to gather people with a similar interest. Start by recruiting people you know, that want to be part of the solution, then invite them to invite others. Use social networks to create a group. Then, once you have established your group, reach out to other like-minded organizations that are working toward a similar cause. Building partnerships with other teams that are also working toward similar goals will stimulate collaboration and ultimately can bring changes that may not have occurred if the groups were working separately. After building these alliances, it is time to involve the community to reach your goals. HAI Group’s Advocacy Guide has an entire section on how to shape this group and where to pull individuals from. Click here to read more.
To achieve your goals, you must first recognize what your goals are. This is where the second pillar, purpose comes in. There must be one primary purpose or objective that your group is working toward fulfilling. This ultimate goal must be measurable and attainable. Start by asking, what does success look like for this campaign? Whether your purpose is to create awareness, impact legislation, or fundraising, it is important to outline what it is so that everyone knows what it is they are working toward and can make the campaign’s plans accordingly.
The final pillar is a plan or a design of how to accomplish the goal. There can be many pieces to this plan, and they will likely change and adapt organically as the advocacy campaign progresses. The same tactics may not work for everyone, but you can keep them in the plan and include it in your advocacy arsenal. A plan may consist of events, fundraising opportunities, accumulating resources to support the cause, connecting with the media, developing tools to showcase why your campaign is necessary, and other tactics. Once you have made a clear and achievable plan, you can then begin execution, and your thoughts and passion can turn into action!
For more on advocacy, check out HAI Group’s advocacy planning webpage.