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Grassroots Lobbying

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Hardcore Grassroots Lobbying:

At one time or another you’ve probably heard about groups mobilizing their grassroots for some cause. “Grassroots” are citizens actively working to influence the political and legislative systems to achieve their goals. If you can demonstrate to legislators that their own constituents are genuinely concerned about an issue, you have done more to advance your issue than anything else including lobbying and campaign contributions.”

Although there is safety in numbers, the quality of grassroots efforts can be far more important than the quantity. One letter or phone call from a constituent who has developed a close relationship with a legislator is more effective than numerous form letters.

Organize grassroots activities (from letter-writing campaigns and district meetings to Capitol lobby days) into one grassroots program. Design the network to give advocates the tools they need to develop and maintain effective relationships with elected officials and enhance input on legislative proposals that affect your cause.

There are five initial steps that must be taken to effectively lobby on your issue:

1. Identify the undecided elected official(s).

2. Determine how he or she makes decisions. (i.e. what kinds of influence works, constituent requests, media stories, business leaders, other politicians, the party leadership, emotional appeals, humanitarian concerns, or a combination of these and/or other factors).

3. Recruit 10-20 registered voters in the official's district as your activist base, if you don't already have one.

4. Educate these activists on the importance of your issue. Make sure they fully understand the position and the arguments, both pro and con, so they can be effective advocates of their position.

5. Ask each of the activists to recruit three other people. They must live within the official's district and preferably be eligible to vote.

Once organized, each member of the network should make phone calls to the official's district office expressing the position. The organizers of the effort should then arrange a meeting with the official in the district with 5 or 10 activists a couple of weeks later. At the meeting, get the official to commit to speaking to a larger group of the activists. Send a thank you letter signed by everyone who attends. Organize the speaking event with the elected official's office. Invite the media. After the event, send a thank you letter and begin the process all over again until the elected official adopts your position.

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