A crucial aspect of your work is mobilizing afterschool supporters—they are one of your greatest assets. They should be encouraged to vote and to ask candidates where they stand on afterschool.
Start with your own list of supporters and contacts. Convene and brief members of the afterschool community and the broader children’s community, including local elected officials, practitioners, parents, PTA’s, etc. As you organize meetings and gauge interest from like-minded organizations in your area, it may be useful to think about the size of their databases and strength of their existing grassroots networks. This can and should be a factor when deciding on partners.
As soon as you start talking publicly about the campaign and creating new resources for the field, you are going to need a website to post information. The website also serves as a means of gathering additional contacts for your database. Your website should be live on the day of your campaign launch event and should provide background information about the campaign as well as a place for visitors to show their support.
Facebook and Twitter
In today’s world of social networking, having a Facebook site is almost as important as having an official website. While your official site should list information about your campaign, Facebook should be used mostly for publicity, awareness and outreach. Set up a fan page so that people can “like” your campaign or organization. Include information about your campaign and a link to the official site in case people want more information. Update your status with recent developments or compelling information; the more people who “like” your status, the more publicity that status—and your campaign—will get. Facebook is perhaps most useful for event publicity, as you can create a page specifically for your event and use it as an electronic invitation. Event pages should mirror the actual events you plan and are a great way to spread the word. Invite all of your Facebook fans and encourage them to invite all of their friends.
Twitter is another useful site to have when you run a campaign. Tweet short blurbs as often as you want, updating your followers about any progress you make, meetings you attend, links to articles to which you want to draw attention, candidate information, etc. Really, you can relay anything related to your campaign to your supporters in a short, digestible post. Be sure to follow other organizations, public figures, people, etc. that affect your campaign. Check to see if your candidate has a Twitter profile; if they do, monitor their posts for afterschool-related posts and other general updates.
Get Out The Vote
In addition to hosting events and using the Internet to rally support around afterschool, it is important to make a push to turn out voters through targeted materials. Items such as palm cards, fliers, mock ballots and other election related materials can be distributed to your supporters in the community and atLights On Afterschool events. This material should also be easily accessible on your website.
These materials should note the day and date of the election, as well as the issues you are urging voters to
support. Again, whenever possible, your materials should advocate an issue, not a particular candidate.