What is Grassroots Advocacy?

 
The first three words of the United States Constitution are: “We the people…”  A simple description of what Grassroots Advocacy does is the ability of we – the people – to influence policy and regulations.  It can be done at any level whether it is a local district, local government, or at the state or federal level.

At GrassRootsOnCall we’ve been accused of being a one-trick pony. Guilty as charged. Our initial mission statement was to create a tool using today’s technology (primarily cell phones and email) to make it easy and affordable to influence change. We’ve continuously added features that add value to our clients but our goal hasn’t really changed – we want to make it easy for you to influence change or, at a minimum, make sure that your voice is heard.

Traditionally grassroots advocacy was to garner the interest of a group of individuals and have them talk to or send a standard letter about an upcoming change in the law (whether in support or opposition). Sadly this method, no longer works.  Representatives recognize ‘canned’ letters and discount them.  You would be surprised at how few Americans even know who their representatives are.  Another problem with a canned grassroots advocacy campaign is that depending on the organization or individual creating the campaign, you may be missing your target.

We did our research in creating GrassRootsOnCall. We talked to one representative at the state level who received a lot of letters calling for support on a bill he authored. Of course he supported it, he wrote it.  Legislative staff are also keen on recognizing a blitz campaign of the same letter over and over.  They are also adept at spotting letters from people outside their district. An assemblyperson in Northern California isn’t necessarily concerned with what someone in Orange County wants or thinks. With our grassroots advocacy tool, we have done a lot of the homework for you.  We map individuals to their correct representatives at the local city and county, state, and federal level ensuring that you are targeting the correct people.  If the action you are concerned about is in a subcommittee, you can tailor your grassroots advocacy campaign to address only those individuals.

To our thinking, the most important aspects of Grassroots Advocacy are doing your homework.  Policy changes and new or modified regulations have a finite lifetime.  They can’t linger at the board or state level forever.  Action and deadlines are mandated by law.  Knowing what is in the pipeline, who’s involved, and when they intend to act are crucial. One of the most important features of GrassRootsOnCall is the ability to create custom letters.  Using our software you create multiple versions of the same letters calling for action.  No more cookie cutter letters.  We ‘scramble’ each of the paragraphs to create multiple versions of a letter calling for action – while keeping the call to action intact. We’ve also built in personal paragraphs that can be added to the campaign to introduce the individual and explain why the representative should act on their recommendation. You can also add logos for your grassroots advocacy campaign members.

With our software, individuals interested in participating receive a phone call asking for action. Regardless of whether you are doing an email or letter writing campaign, they simple enter a number: 1) send a letter on my behalf; 2) call me, I have questions; or 3) opt out of the campaign.  The person initiating the campaign see these results live as the campaign unfolds. You can make the phone calls to provide additional information or possibly change the mindset of the individuals opting out and give them a second chance to participate.

If you are part of a group or organization wanting to influence change, GrassRootsOnCall should be in your toolbox. Grassroots advocacy is more important than ever.  In California, they just swore in nearly 100 new legislators at the state level. Legislators will produce 3,000 new bills this year alone.  Some will be negligible or ‘feel good’ bills.  But, if even one newly introduced bill will negatively or positively impact you and the people in your group or organization, don’t you want your voice heard?