Grassroots & Key Contacts

Every elected and appointed official is charged with representing people either from a specific district or across the city or state. These public servants are supposed to help government work for us and with us. Elected officials are especially keen on appealing to people who live in the district they represent because those are the people who literally have the power to hire and fire them at election time. Grassroots power, when organized and prepared, can overcome even the most well-funded corporate interests.  How does this connect back to the Three Key Questions?

Think about your answer to the third question. The minute you determine who your key decision-makers are, you will want to begin to find grassroots supporters in their district. There are lots of ways to do this, starting with simply asking your coalition partners, staff, funders, and others if they know anyone who lives in a particular district. Look for eating disorder support groups, body confidence clubs  in local schools, organizations that focus on safe screen use and youth organizations that have service requirements.

So-called “regular people” are often the most successful influencers. Participating in meetings with lawmakers, attending community conversations, and speaking to the media, or testifying at a public hearing are all great ways for a well-prepared grassroots advocate to help fuel a campaign. Resources for this grassroots work can be found here.

Most people do not know who their state representative, city councilor, or town meeting member is, so make it easy for them by providing a link to look up their own lawmaker. Or you can ask them for their home/voting address, and you can look it up for them. Make it a habit to ask for home/voting addresses at community meetings, coalition meetings, etc.

Youth can and should be engaged as grassroots advocates and leaders in a body confidence campaign. Click here for ideas on how to effectively engage youth as campaign leaders.

Grassroots advocates may also have personal stories they are willing to share. Ask your grassroots advocates to use this worksheet, Telling Your Own Personal Story about Body Confidence.

Your grassroots advocates can also become awesome campaign volunteers. Click here to learn more about possible Campaign Jobs for Grassroots Volunteers in Your Body Confidence Campaign

Key Contacts/Grasstops

Key contacts – or grasstops – are those who by virtue of their special expertise, position, or personal relationship are more likely to get direct information from a decision-maker. They are “influencers,” to borrow a social media term, and can have an outsized impact on lawmakers.

Key contacts can be cultivated through research into a lawmaker’s interests and affiliations and forming relationships with leaders in those organizations. Key contacts can also be discovered by asking your grassroots advocates about relationships they have with decision-makers or those connected to decision-makers. Ask all advocates to fill out a Who do you Know? Personal Relationship Profile (PDF). You may be surprised by the connections your grassroots already have to “pathways of influence” in your campaign!

Grassroots advocates appreciate being trained to learn more about the proposed policy change, the political process, and how they can help. Do your best to offer training through online webinars, conference calls, and in-person trainings and lobby days. Help them come up with their own “elevator speech” to help them make their case using the 27-9-3 Rule. Trained advocates are huge assets to any campaign and can help by meeting with lawmakers, testifying at public hearings, writing letters to the editor, and as social media influencers.

Finally, it’s important for campaign leaders to stay in touch with their grassroots advocates even when they aren’t asking them to make phone calls to their own lawmaker. Be disciplined about managing your contact lists and try to capture email, phone/text, and social media accounts of your advocates. Talk to them regular with updates, surveys, action alerts, and more. And never forget that the most important data on your grassroots advocates is their voting address because their constituent power is real.