Eight must-know grassroots concepts

For every position there is an opposition. It’s what makes our democracy work. If you lead a nonprofit organization, there’s no doubt an issue or candidate can influence how effectively you raise money or advocate for systemic change. Some even argue an investment in advocacy is an “upstream solution” and preferable to isolated direct service downstream.

The One-Hour Activist: The 15 Most Powerful Actions You Can Take to Fight for the Issues and Candidates You Care About presents a nonpartisan, thorough checklist of tactical best practices for engaging in advocacy on behalf of issues and candidates you care about.

Author Christopher Kush has distilled the essential activities that will help you understand how your letter, email or request for a face-to-face meeting with your lawmaker can be heard above the noise. He covers nuances in relating to your elected officials, leveraging the media, navigating public hearings, analyzing bills, joining public interest groups and much more. The book title may say 15, but Kush highlights 20 specific actions that can advance your cause.

In Part One of Kush’s book, he emphasizes eight important grassroots concepts and I’ll share them with you:

1) Voting isn’t enough. Once you’ve gotten your candidate elected, you can’t expect issues to go your way; the work has only begun.
2) Geography is the single most important thing about you and your issue. If you live in the elected official’s district, he/she wants to make you happy. Period.
3) One angry letter won’t change the world.
4) Instant grassroots (like signing online petitions) is not especially effective. Personalized letters with individual anecdotes and stories are.
5) Money is part of the game. If you refuse to take out your checkbook, you’re leaving an important weapon out of your arsenal.
6) Elected officials are real people with all the complexity and imperfection that implies. Genuinely try to understand who your elected officials are.
7) One successful grassroots campaign will not settle your issues once and for all. The issues worth fighting for will be ongoing, long-term battles.
8) “Staying on message” is the ultimate law of grassroots activism. Everyone who cares about a given issue must make the same exact request, no matter how individualized his/her justification for that request is.

Watch for more highlights in the coming weeks about The One-Hour Activist by Christopher Kush.

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