From policy development to strategic partnerships, we are preparing
to launch our biggest election-focused advocacy campaign to
date. Our advocacy team is ensuring your priorities and those of
all Canadian seniors are key planks in each party’s platform. To do
this, we will need a strong team of dedicated, committed advocates
working in their ridings right across the country. To build this team,
we need to consider how to connect our members to issues that
matter to them and their loved ones, how we ask them to participate
and how we inspire them to get more involved.
Federal Retirees has 176,000 members from coast-to-coast-to-coast,
but less than a third of those members are currently engaged in
our advocacy campaigns — with most taking only a single action.
Over 40,000 people have sent messages to the prime minister
and finance minister asking them to honour their promise from
the last election and withdraw Bill C-27. Thousands more have
participated in our provincial election pilot projects and our push for
the development and implementation of a national seniors strategy.
What we ask these members to do next, and how we ask them to
do it, will make or break our campaign strategy in 2019.
The most effective advocacy organizations leverage the success of
their campaigns in the follow-up — by acknowledging the contribution
members have made to achieving the campaign’s goal and asking
them to do a little bit more. Stand-alone, single-action campaigns miss
the opportunity to build momentum and commitment — not just to
that campaign, but to the organization as a whole.
This strategy is commonly referred to as the “ladder of engagement” — moving members from a place of unawareness to interest, through interaction and engagement, and finally to commitment. The member’s journey along the ladder of engagement to deep commitment to
Federal Retirees’ advocacy goals can and should take time, and should
begin with a series of low-pressure, low-commitment asks. A slow
progression that allows us to get to know each member, develop
our relationship with them and gives them many opportunities to
participate and get involved will produce stronger, more dedicated
advocates that are more likely to continue to be engaged over time.
Emerging policy issues and the need to activate our team can arise at any time and tempt us to skip rungs on the ladder, but asking for too much too quickly can turn members off. Just as with any exercise in relationship building, aggressive demands can foil an otherwise successful evolution.
For example, moving from welcoming a new member to immediately asking them
to email their member of Parliament in
response to an issue with which they are not
familiar can feel too intense and is therefore
unlikely to be successful. However, following
a welcome message with a request to “like”
Federal Retirees on Facebook, followed by a
single-question poll, followed by information
on the issue and the Association’s position
makes the eventual request for an email to
their MP more likely to be effective. As the
saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”
The Association’s advocacy team will be
working closely with advocacy program
officers and branch teams coast-to-coast
to successfully leverage the ladder of
engagement, with the goal of having
a strong and committed team in place
for the 2019 federal election. With the
advocacy team at national office doing
the heavy lifting on building its list of
potential advocates, digital organizing,
messaging and tool development, our
branch teams will be able to focus on what
they do best: providing local knowledge
and insight while building and leveraging
relationships with stakeholders, including
candidates, community leaders and new
This hard work and development
will not only serve our non-partisan
election campaign goals, but will allow
us to make an even bigger impact in
future campaigns. It can deliver an
excited and experienced slate of potential
candidates for branch executives, advocacy
program officers and national board
positions in the future. It can help the
Association grow its presence right across
the country and increase its influence
on Parliament Hill.
Federal Retirees wants to go far, so let’s
Members who would like to join the
Association's advocacy efforts can contact
Candace Jazvac is advocacy co-ordinator for the National Association of Federal Retirees.