Developing Your Campaign Strategy
Now that you’ve decided to start your own campaign, it’s time to develop a campaign strategy and begin hammering out the details. In six steps, we’ll teach you how to develop a rock-solid strategy that will help set up your campaign for success.
1. Define your campaign’s goal
After answering questions #2 and #3 from the last post, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re hoping to achieve by running a campaign on Causes. Before you read on, take some time and summarize your goal in a single sentence. If it helps, complete the sentence “I want to…”. Not only will this be used during the campaign creation process, but it will also help you conceptualize what success looks like. Here’s a few examples of some great, definitive goals:
- “Eli Zucker wants to get medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot in Florida”
- “Organic Consumers Association wants to stop New GMO ‘Agent Orange’ Crops”
- “Movement for Justice wants to demand the UK grant asylum to Nigerian LGBT activist”
2. Research your issue
In order to be an effective campaign leader, you need to know your issue inside and out. Learning everything you can not only helps you craft a better campaign, but it also helps your supporters learn about an issue they may not know much about. Just make sure you stick to credible sources like Wikipedia, reputable news sites, and government sites. There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet.
Pro TipKeep all of your research handy. The articles, videos, and photos will make for great material that you can post to your campaign after it’s launched.
3. Set a deadline
Setting a deadline allows you to draw a line in the sand and work backwards from there. Oftentimes, campaign goals are tied to a specific date or event (for example, a campaign to get marijuana on the FL ballot in 2014). When that’s the case, setting a deadline is an easy task. However, some campaigns are working to resolve an issue with no end date, such as human trafficking. If your campaign falls into that category, we recommend setting a deadline that occurs sooner rather than later (by default, we give each action a duration of 60 days). This creates a sense of urgency and inspires others to act quickly. On the other hand, make sure you allow adequate time for your campaign to reach its goal. Even at the speed in which the world moves today, change doesn’t happen overnight.
Pro TipAlthough we’ll ask you to pick a specific end date, you’ll be able to modify it after launching your campaign.
4. Choose an action(s) that aligns with your campaign’s goal
After defining your goal and doing some exhaustive research, it’s time to decide which action(s) will help achieve your goal. There are three action types on Causes: petition, pledge, and fundraiser. Here’s a brief explanation of each one.
In short, a petition is your best advocacy tool. Asking people to sign a petition is a great way to put pressure on a decision maker. On average, they get the most support on Causes and the most effective way to change laws, corporate policies, etc through collective action.
Selecting a petition target
Your petition target should be an individual or group of decision makers who have the power and influence to do what your petition is asking. Hundreds of thousands of signatures are great, but aren’t as effective when your petition isn’t targeting the decision maker(s) who is in the position to do what you’re asking. For instance, if you want to change a state law, you should probably target that state’s governor. However, if you want to change a local law, targeting the governor probably won’t be as effective as targeting the city’s mayor. Let’s look at an example of a specific, well-targeted petition. The below petition asked Florida Governor Rick Scott, along with Commissioner Adam H. Putnam and Director Grea Bevis of the Florida DOJ and DACS, to revoke George Zimmerman’s concealed weapon license. Collectively, these three people held the power to issue and revoke concealed weapon licenses in Florida. With over 30,000 signatures, this petition helped hold Florida officials accountable, protected the public, and kept guns out of the hands of an unstable and violent individual.
Sometimes, you might need people to do more than sign a petition. That’s where pledges come in. By taking a pledge, a person is committing to do something meaningful. Some common pledge asks include:
- Attending an event, such as a rally or town hall meeting
- Tweeting at or calling your state representative
- Making a behavioral change, such as biking to work or not texting while driving.
Whatever the ask, make sure you provide enough information and make it really, really easy for pledge-takers to act on. For example, if you want people to pledge to start composting, you could include an infographic that teaches them how. If you want people to tweet at a politician, you could include a link to their Twitter profile along with some suggested tweets. The easier the task, the more likely people will do it.
There are tens of thousands of nonprofits working to solve a variety of problems. Sometimes, the most effective way to make a difference is to help fund a nonprofit whose mission aligns with your campaign’s goal. Fundraisers allow people to raise money for a US-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, registered on Guidestar. Keep in mind that fundraisers are a high-barrier ask. Most people won’t give money to complete strangers. For that reason, it’s important to strategically sequence your campaign’s actions (we’ll cover sequencing below).
Pro TipImprove your action’s credibility by including relevant information, such as a news article that discusses why the issue is a problem. This educates potential supporters, encourages them to take action, and increases the likelihood of your campaign being a success.
Once you’ve decided which actions will contribute to your campaign’s success, it’s time to…
5. Sequence your campaign’s actions
It’s important to remember that you’ll be asking real people to support your campaign. Therefore, you need to be very strategic about how you begin building a relationship with them. Like any relationship, it takes a few interactions to build trust and establish a connection around shared values that will motivate action. With that in mind, try to sequence your campaign’s actions in a way that helps you develop a relationship with each person, especially if your campaign involves fundraising. We recommend leading off with a petition or pledge. This allows you to begin engaging your audience with a low-barrier ask and sets up a foundation for your relationship. After they take action, you can start sharing updates and posts to keep them engaged and deepen your relationship. Once your supporters are invested in your campaign, you’ll find that they are more likely to donate or dedicate some of their time and energy to helping your campaign succeed.
6. Find a compelling cover photo
This may not seem very important compared to the other strategic tactics we’ve discussed. That is, until you learn that humans process imagery 60,000 times faster than text. Think of this photo as the front door to your campaign. It will be featured prominently at the top of the campaign page and appears in the newsfeed/timeline when shared on Facebook and Twitter. A compelling photo increases the chances that people will stop aimlessly scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline and click-through to your campaign. For best results, our designers recommend using a campaign photo that:
- Is at least 1000 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall. This will make sure images don’t pixelate on devices with high resolution screens.
- Has very little or no text on it. This makes your campaign goal and description easier to read.
- Doesn’t have a lot of white or light colors. this will also make your campaign goal and description easier to read.
With a robust strategy in place, the next step is to start a new campaign on Causes!
Pro TipIf you need help finding a photo, you can use the advanced search features on Google Image search and Flickr to find photos that are available under a Creative Commons license. Typically, these photos are not subject to copyright laws as long as they are used in a manner stated by the photo’s Creative Commons license. If that’s all too complicated, use a photo that you own. Anything shot on an iPhone or Android in landscape mode will do just fine.