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Local Advocacy: Get Local Now or Clean Out Your Desk Later

by Ayelet Hines, Founder and President, Change University

Have you checked out Salsa's new database of local and county elected and appointed officials?

Of course you did, the day it was released. Now what? This blog series will dig into how to make that database a game-changer for your organization's battles, whether your target decision-makers are local, state, federal, or global. Winning those battles could mean the difference between you, future giver of TED talks, and you, future lugger-of-box-of-desk-contents-to-your-car.

Since I want you to end up a worshipped TED lecturer, I'll start out by saying that policymakers at any level of government can be organized much like anyone else—and tip the scales in your favor. Local officials can influence policy clear up to the White House. I've gotten city councilmembers to turn up the heat on members of Congress, and I've gotten members of Congress to throw their weight around on local issues.

In key ways, local and county elected and appointed officials are like any volunteers—I want to make it easy for them to say "yes" to my request, and when they do say "yes," I thank the heck out of them and persuade them to increase their involvement over time.

But I can't spend my days scrabbling the interwebs trying to find out who these officials are and how to reach'em. That's where the new Salsa database comes in.

With that database, all kinds of things become possible. Are you a national group with local volunteers? Sic them on municipal and county officials. In a nice way. There are lots of things local electeds can do for you that will support your work at the national level. And remember, national media loves a local story.

Coming up are four blog posts that lay bare the strategies by which leading organizers have Aikido'd much bigger targets by tapping the power of local officials. If you haven't already melded your local and national campaign strategies, tune in to this series, which will include expert interviews and best practices. If you're already leveraging the power of local electeds, please let us learn from you by telling us about your wins in the comments section below.

Local officials. You're going to learn to love them, they're going to learn to love you, and with any luck, you'll be delivering a TED lecture on how Salsa made it all possible.

Topics: Advocacy