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The importance of a plan

Okay, you’ve researched and you’ve picked a strategy.

Now it’s time to plan what you’ll actually do.

Again to Tools for Radical Democracy by Minieri and Getsos, “Without a campaign plan, you are more likely to engage in unfocused activities that do not contribute to getting targets to meet your demands.”

There are many formats for campaign plans out there. I’m very impressed with the The Just Enough Planning Guide. Which planning format you use matters less than that you create a plan. It should include:

  • Your goals;
  • A roadmap for how you will get those goals met;
  • A timeline with objectives that you can measure your progress against;
  • Your message;
  • What resources you have;
  • What allies you want to bring on board and what adversaries you will have to deal with.

The important this is that after you create this plan, you keep looking back at it.

Yes, it will probably change as you move forward, but looking back at it will make sure you don’t spend three weeks trying to get a visit with a newspaper’s editorial board if your plan tells you that getting the support of union reps is more important.

Research. Choose a strategy. Plan your actions.

Then do!

Why do we always start from scratch?

If you want to open a Subway franchise, the company will walk you through the whole process from marketing plans to HR policies.

When community organizers plan campaigns, we often are making it up as we go.

For example, right now at ICPJ  mobilizes a Washtenaw County coalition for the Health Care for Michigan Campaign, we’re on our own for creating a campaign plan that includes outreach methods, coordination, media, volunteer, and funding.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Why can’t we have access to sample campaign plans from other campaigns like the Massachusetts health care campaign or the Florida minimum wage campaign?

One of the exciting developments in the human services sector is an effort to learn from effective programs and standardize their lessons. For example, the DC Central Kitchen has developed a kick-ass program for training formerly homeless people kitchen skills so that they can become competitive workers and have a sense of accomplishment when they finish the program. Now, they have standardized this program so that other communities can copy it.

Consider it open-source social services.

Why can’t community organizers go open source? Why can’t we post our campaign plans (after-the-fact of course) as well as an analysis of what worked and what didn’t?

I would love to see as many successful grassroots campaigns as there are successful Subway franchises, but we won’t get there if we always have to make  up our campaigns from scratch.