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Community Power Map Guide

Assess your community to increase your power to win your campaign!

In this guide:

  1. Before you Power Map
  2. Make your Power Map
  3. After you Power Map

Everyone has made a Power Map unknowingly: e.g. getting someone to go on a date with you or getting Dad to give you the keys to the car. A Power Map is simply figuring out who has power, and then figuring out what will move that individual or institution to do whatever it is you want them to do. Most often, we use Power Maps to figure out how to get a decision-maker to vote our way on an issue--but Power Maps can also be used to convince an organization to take a stand, to persuade a foundation to give your organization a grant, or to compel a newspaper to write a favorable editorial. The good news is that in most social change campaigns, it's not necessary to move your target or any opponent to share your point of view--you just need to build enough grassroots power to pressure your target to do the right thing.

This guide shows you how to make a successful Community Power Map by brainstorming individuals and organizations in your community and assessing their influence over your target. You'll have to figure out what makes strategic sense for your particular campaign--always check with your Field Organizer or Regional Coordinator if you have any questions.

Anytime you see Build your Leaders in this guide, look for opportunities to delegate responsibilites to other members of your Council. Also be sure to check out the Community Power Map case study from MoveOn's health care campaign in North Dakota.

1 Before you Power Map

Build your Leaders

Ask a few members of your Council to take responsibility for the target research. This is a great role for members who enjoy researching, are computer savvy, and are up-to-date on local politics.

Step 1: Know your Campaign

Before you begin a Community Power Map, first make sure you understand the national campaign goals and strategy, as well as the local campaign goal and objective. Click here for information on the current MoveOn Campaign.

Your Community Power Map will help you identify key local players in the campaign and develop a strategic tactical plan based on the national strategy.

Case Study: MoveOn's Health Care Campaign in North Dakota

  • National Goal: Pass a Health Care Bill with a Public Option through a majority-vote in the Senate and 218 votes in the House.
  • National Strategy: Pressure members of Congress to pressure Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and President Obama to pass a Public Option.
  • Local Goal: Senator Conrad publicly commits to vote “yes” for a Public Option.
  • Local Strategy: Pressure Senator Conrad to commit to voting “yes” for a Public Option through local media, grassroots pressure, and the voices of key community leaders.

Step 2. Determine your Target

Before your Community Power Map session, determine the key decision-maker for your campaign or the person you want to influence—this is your target. To do this, answer the question: "Which single individual literally can make the decision or enact the change we want to see?" In most of MoveOn's campaigns, your target is a member of Congress—so you'll probably need to decide which of your two senators and your representative is the most strategic target.

Step 3: Research your Target

Find out your target's personal and professional connections and find information relevant to the current campaign. If you have a few potential targets, research all of them to determine who holds the most decision-making power, and who you are most likely to move or influence. You probably know more than you think--brainstorming with Council members can unearth a lot of useful information! Consider these questions as you research:

For more tips on target research, check out the MoveOn Target Research Guide.

Case Study: MoveOn's Healthcare Campaign in North Dakota

Research Outcomes: Small-business owners, farmers, and the legal community in Bismarck--his hometown--were very important.

1 Make your Power Map

Build your Leaders

Making a Community Power Map takes a lot of work and is a great opportunity to build leadership in your council. Here are a few suggested responsibilities to delegate.

Step 1: Brainstorm

A Community Power Map helps you determine the individuals and groups in your community who are affected by the issue and who can influence your target. Some groups and individuals may be affected by the issue but don't have much influence over the target. Others might have a lot of influence over the target but aren't directly impacted by the issue.

Start your Community Power Map by brainstorming all the individuals and groups in your community who are influential in your community and are directly impacted by the campaign issue. Here are some examples:

As you brainstorm, be sure to consider the following:

Step 2. Draw a Grid

grid from Danielle.

On butcher paper, draw a horizontal line with arrows on either end to represent the spectrum. Write Social Change / With Us on the left and Opposition of Social Change / Against Us on the right. Draw a vertical line with Decision-Maker / Target on the top and No Influence on the bottom. Check out the example to the right.

Draw your target's name at the top of the vertical line. Depending on where the target lands in terms of being "with us" or "against us," write his or her name somewhere along the top—toward the left if he or she is "with us" and toward the right if he or she is "against us." If you really aren't sure, put the name in the middle.

Step 3: Assess Influence

Go back to your brainstorm list. For each organization and individual on the list, ask yourself:

Based on this assessment, place them in the appropriate place on the Grid. If you aren't sure about your assessment or if members in your group disagree on how much influence a certain individual or group has, don't spend more than a few minutes deliberating. If you can't agree, just write that individual or group on the side of the grid and complete the research later.

grid from Danielle.

Case Study: MoveOn's Health Care Campaign in North Dakota

  • College Eco-Justice Club: with us, not influential – bottom left quadrant
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield North Dakota: against us, fairly influential – upper right quadrant
  • Small-Business Owners: with us, influential – upper left quadrant
  • John Birch Society of North Dakota: against us, not influential – lower right quadrant

Step 4: Determine Connections

Take a step back and review the network you’ve created. Some of these people and institutions connect not only to your target--but also to each other. Start drawing lines to connect individuals and groups that have something in common. This will help you see connections between your Council and the target!

Step 5: Determine Priority Relationships

Revisit your original list of community organizations and leaders. Draw circles around the individuals or groups you'll want to prioritize your outreach to. Typically, you'll want 5-10 top priorities--but you'll probably want to reach out to nearly everyone on your list. Ideally, these individuals and groups represent the range of these criteria from your Power Map:

For the individuals and groups that are "with us," consider how your Council can build relationships through your Council's current connections and activities.

Congratulations! You've successfully made a Community Power Map!

1 After you Power Map

Build your Leaders

Whatever your tactical plan, you'll want to delegate leadership to Council members who will coordinate a project and delegate responsibilities within each project to other Council members. Your Councils core group should create a follow-up plan and determine deadlines. The Council Coordinator should plan to have weekly phone calls with the coordinators of each project, and the project coordinators should have regular phone calls with the Councils members who take on responsibilities.

Step 1: Make a Strategic Tactical Plan

Now that you've made your Community Power Map, determine the next steps based on the specific campaign you are working on. This could include building support from influential allies or neutralizing oppositional groups. Make sure you look at your Council Building Plan and that there is time for Base Building with the organizations you prioritized in your Power Map.

Click here for the current national campaign plan and resources for your local tactics!

Case Study: MoveOn's Health Care Campaign in North Dakota

Tactical plan: Recruit 15 small-business owners, 3 lawyers and 5 campaign donors to sign a letter calling on Senator Conrad to support the Public Option. Organize a rally with these individuals and invite the local media.

Step 2: Evaluate & Move Forward

Once you have implemented the first stage of your tactical plan, it's important to reflect on your Power Map to see if you've strategically made use of the information you gained. At this point, you'll also want to consider what new information you've learned that you can add to your Power Map. Then reflect on how that should impact your ongoing tactical plan to build power and achieve your campaign goals.


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