You should be able to clearly articulate your goals for the project. This will be especially important when recruiting funders and partners.
We recommend you start locally and, if successful, move to a larger jurisdiction next time. Work with your partners and consider targeting municipal, county, or district elections, which will likely be an effective use of resources. Or, if you determine that state or national offices are most important, target specific aspects of the election, such as securing questions on afterschool in a candidate debate or orchestrating site visits for candidates.
There is little risk to nonprofits participating in a nonpartisan voter and candidate education campaign, if the activities are managed carefully; the goal is to elevate the issue of afterschool, not a particular candidate or political party.
Downloading and familiarizing yourself with the points in our Candidate Resource Guide on Afterschool
is a good start. The guide can be sent to all candidates as a primer on the importance of afterschool programs as a campaign issue. Remember, if you send it to one candidate, you must send it to all candidates for a particular office.
It is also important to know the political lay of the land in your area. Are statewide or local polling numbers available on afterschool? Do you know where the candidates stand on the issue? If any of them are current office holders, have they sponsored related legislation or signed resolutions?
Two basic communication tools are contact lists and a website. Your contact list will allow you to call or send out blast emails to your supporters and encourage them to take action.At the outset, you and your partners may want to pool your lists to create a master database. You should continue to build this list throughout the campaign by hosting voter registration, public education, and other “list building” events.
A campaign website will allow you to post event and campaign information, conduct polls and allow the general public to find out more about your issue.
Some organizations orchestrate campaigns to raise social issues in every election cycle. Find the organizations in your area whose agendas fit well with yours. Chances are they will be working on a broader issue, such as education or children’s welfare, but will welcome the chance to bring you (and your valuable grassroots contacts and supporters) in as a partner. Some examples of organizations to consider:
- Children’s Leadership Council
- Every Child Matters
- Rock the Vote
- Universities and public television stations that organize candidate debates and forums.
Remember to approach them early — offering your assistance can help ensure afterschool has a place in the event.
Show me the money!
Identify community trusts, local foundations and other groups that may want to fund an initiative like this. Remember, you are more likely to find funders when you undertake a campaign like this with partners.