What is it? In a nutshell, mobilizing means getting people to take action. At The Borgen Project it’s usually used in reference to mobilizing people to email their Congressional leaders. Swarms are when multiple people email or call a Congressional leader on the same issue.
1Email friends and family. Create an email template that you can personalize and send individually to your contacts. Don’t send a generic “Dear Friends and Family” email that goes out to everyone at once, those rarely result in anyone taking action.
2 “Do your Day.” What is “Do your Day?” Simply put, it’s going about your daily routine and mobilizing the people you interact with along the way to take action.
- During breakfast, have your roommate email Congress.
- While driving in the car with friends, have them call Congress.
- While at work, mobilize co-workers to email Congress.
3 Tabling. Setup a table where people can learn about The Borgen Project and take action. Have a laptop with the email Congress page open and ready to go. Try a catchy sign like “Help Africa in 30-seconds without donating.”
4 Find Places Where People are Bored and/or Relaxed. Where do people wait? Where are people relaxed and open to talking to people? Make a list of these places in your area and tailor your approach. For example, most people on ferries are somewhat bored and their life is temporarily on hold until the boat reaches its destination.
1 Know Why It’s Important. People are usually happy to help once they understand why it’s so important. The Call Congress page explains how Congressional offices track and tally each time a voter contacts them in support of a bill.
2 Know Why People Don’t Email Congress. Understanding why people don’t take action will help you build a proactive approach to engage them. These are the most common reasons people don’t email Congress when asked to:
- Information Overload: Computers, smartphones, TV, radio, magazines, etc. The average person has lots of information crossing their path each day.
- Skepticism: We’ll be honest, in the early days of The Borgen Project we were very skeptical that people emailing their Congressional leaders mattered… In fact, we didn’t encourage it or have the advocacy software to do so on our site. Damn were we wrong on that one! After a zillion lobbying meetings with Congressional leaders, friend and foe, we became huge believers in it because it does make an impact.
- Don’t Care: Not much you can do with these folks. The goods news is there aren’t too many people who fall under this category. Even many that do, can be engaged when the information comes to them the right way. We found it interesting that many people who are against immigration, were starting to call on the U.S. to let more Syrians in as the bloodshed worsened in 2015. Many who fail to sympathize with people who flee poverty, are able to sympathize with those fleeing violent and unthinkable conditions in vulnerable communities.
Help them email… Do it for them. Is it silly that most people won’t take 25-seconds to contact their leaders in support of a bill that will help millions of people? Of course it is! However, that is the reality that you must work with, so finding ways to make it simple is crucial to your efforts. Many have found success by getting permission to fill in the email form for their friends or family… Make sure you have permission.
Hey Tammy, can you do me a quick favor (25-seconds)? I’m trying to mobilize 30 people this week to email their Congressional leaders in support of the Education for All Act. It’s an amazing bill! I just need you to fill this out. Takes about 30-seconds. Or if you’re busy right now I can do it for you.
67 People Mobilized in 15 Days!
Ayusha Shrestha, an exchange student from Nepal won The Borgen Project’s Top Mobilizer Award in August of 2016. Ayusha attends Kennesaw State University and is a Political Affairs Intern for The Borgen Project in Georgia. In 15 days, Ayusha mobilized 67 people to email Congressional leaders in support of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. Watch the video to learn how she did it.
Mobilizing = Leadership
Being able to lead people to take action is the core of being a good leader. While mobilizing people to email Congress or to make a donation might seem challenging, try to keep things in perspective… People aren’t being asked to go on a hunger strike, march across a country or face imprisonment. We just need them to send a quick email!
Mobilizing Words We Live By:
- Lead by Example
- Educate Them
- Engage Them
- Include Them
- Coach Them