Manage and activate a community action network of advocates
This article is part of Advocacy Basics: Working with the Community.
What is a Community Action Network?
A RESULTS Action Network is a loosely organized pool of community-based advocates and supporters connected to a RESULTS group. Action Network members may not typically participate in regular group activities and meetings, but they take actions to support the group’s advocacy and organizing efforts and may participate in fundraising efforts.
Resources for Creating and Managing a local Action Network
- Review the Action Network role description
- Join the Action Network Community of Practice listserve and/or Facebook Group
- Attend our monthly webinars on the first Wednesday of the month at 8:00 pm ET (find login details in our Events Calendar)
- See the “Outreach & Planning” section of the Current Volunteers page on our website for resources to help you build your Action Network
How do I Create a Community Action Network?
- There is no magic formula to creating a Community Action Network, but a great first start is to figure out how you will contact and keep track of your network even before you find people to join it. Will you use an Excel spreadsheet to catalogue contact information and contact people by phone? Do you prefer Facebook? Do you like sending tweets? Figure out the method that works best for you and your network, and keep your list current and easy to reach. And our standard sign-up form might be a helpful way to capture information.
- Choose the best method to communicate with your network. Does e-mail work best? Facebook, Twitter or other social media? In some cases, a phone network is appropriate.
- Think about how often you expect to activate your network. Realistically, if an individual would like to take actions quite often, it makes sense for them simply to sign up for our national RESULTS Action Network. However, if they prefer only to be contacted for particularly important actions or actions that relate to your local RESULTS group, participating in your local Community Action Network could be perfect for them.
- Think carefully about who to include. Begin with your own RESULTS group and make sure your method of communication, as well as your contact details, are up to date and running smoothly. Then think about your relationships and affiliations and coalition partners. Ask yourself which individuals and groups might be interested in joining an action network that will be activated when there is an immediate, important advocacy action that can be taken? You don’t have to place anyone in a formal database kept in the DC office. If you wish, you can simply keep a current list of people who may want to be notified of local opportunities in the fight against hunger and poverty.
- Don’t overuse your network. By definition, people in your network are not wanting to take action as full-fledged RESULTS activist, so they are likely to tire of a relentless series of e-mails or calls each week. Instead, use your discretion in activating your network at key times with actions or information.
- Consider how you are cultivating your network along what we call the Ladder Of Engagement. Just like members of Congress, advocates can become champions, too!
- Be strategic. If the right local opportunities to reach out haven’t surfaced for your network in a few weeks, consider sending a link to a powerful article, an invitation to have coffee, or a thank you for being willing to stand at the ready. This allows people to also give you feedback, contact detail updates, etc. Just like you don’t want to overuse your network, you also do not want it to get stagnant.
- Don’t be the only keeper of the network. In your absence, the network may need to be activated. By sharing the responsibility with another trusted activist, you increase your ability to be nimble and timely in your management of the network.
- Keep the RESULTS door open. Many in your network may not yet have chosen to be a RESULTS activist in any capacity. When the time comes for your group to engage in outreach, invite your entire network. By persistently keeping the welcome mat out for your entire network, you increase the chances of someone taking you up on the invitation to become a RESULTS partner and/or donor.
For more great tips, check out Build a Coalition of Community Allies.