Working with Allies

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Definition:

Working with allies means developing strategic relationships with individuals and groups in our community that expand our resources. These resources give us more power in relation to our targets and move us closer to our goals.

Key Principles

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  • By working with allies, we build more power, expand our pool of resources, and build both organizations simultaneously. Working together means we have more access to media lists, community members, organizations, policy knowledge, and congressional connections—so our organizing is more powerful.
  • By working together we're creating a bigger progressive movement. MoveOn members and community leaders in general usually wear many hats and care about many issues. By working together, we are creating a more unified movement for change.
  • There are many groups and individuals who are possible allies.
    • People directly impacted by the campaign issue

    • Community and social justice organizations

    • Students, parents, teachers, Parent Teacher Associations, school boards, faculty and administrators at local colleges and universities

    • Organizations that represent voters (i.e. AARP, Democratic clubs, and unions)

    • Organizations with political capital (i.e. they helped elect the target)

    • Small-business owners, Chamber of Commerce, and other business institutions

    • Elected officials, donors, media outlets, celebrities

    • Stockholders and board members of companies

    • Clergy and religious leaders, churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions
  • Working with allies is different than working in a coalition. Working with allies can be described as developing relationships with people and organizations individually. Working in a coalition is a group of individuals and/or organizations with a common interest who agree to work together toward a common goal.
  • Working with allies is a two-way street: We need to help our allies with their campaigns as much as we ask for help on ours. This reciprocity defines a strong partnership.
  • We don't always have to work with allies. For some events or campaigns, it might be more strategic not to work with allies. Consider the opportunities and challenges of working with allies before you jump in.
  • There are different types of allies.
    • Endorser: You can build a list of endorsers to create credibility and breadth to your campaign. Allies may do little beyond adding their names to the supporter list. This might look like: signing a petition letter, sending out a recruitment email to their member list, making announcements at each others' events, staying up to date on each others' efforts, or sharing a location or meeting space.

    • Associate: Allies are encouraged to play an active role in the campaign, but decision-making still rests with you. This ally is more active, with occasional meetings to share information and make plans together. This might look like: hosting media actions together, speaking at each others' events, lobbying elected officials together, or crafting local strategy for recruiting other potential allies.

    • Partner: Groups work closely together and make strategy decisions together on the campaign. This might look like: formal decision-making meetings and coordinating media and recruitment work at the local and national level.

How to

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  • Make a list of organizations and partners to approach. Consider the challenges and opportunities of partnering with each group. Organize your information in a spreadsheet.
  • Make initial contact. Find out what they are working on. Lay out the campaign and why they have a stake in it. Talk through ways in which they could be involved and play an important role, and what that would specifically look like. Be sure to have a follow-up plan for your next meeting.
  • Secure their endorsement or involvement. When you have a specific ask (endorse a petition, co-sponsor an event), make the ask. Every organization has their own decision-making process—so you might need to wait a few weeks to hear back.
  • Maintain structure and communications. Update your allies as the campaign progresses. This might mean a quick phone call, an email, or attending a meeting.
  • Use the relationship to strengthen upcoming events.

Take-Aways

 

  • 1. By working with allies, we build more power, expand our pool of resources, and build both organizations simultaneously.

 

  • 2. Working with allies is a two-way street.

 

  • 3. When contacting potential partners, clearly lay out why it is of interest for them to be an ally, define the expectations, and set up definitive next steps.