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How To Take Your Cause To the Next Level

So your fledgling grassroots movement has taken off. Good work. … But now what? Use this momentum to make your cause a lasting force for change.

Instructions

  • Step 1: As your group grows, you will likely discover existing movements dedicated to the same or a similar cause. Network with them, and with any other organization or individuals who are sympathetic to your cause. You never know how you may be able to help each other now, or how you might combine forces in the future to effect change on a larger scale.
  • Step 2: Register as an official, legal entity to receive aid from multiple sources and maintain your legitimacy as a charitable organization. Check your local laws to see what's required in your area. Becoming official may qualify you for grants and assistance, like the Google Grants program, which gives free advertising to charitable organizations to help drive traffic to their web sites.
  • TIP: Boost your video's visibility by adding relevant "tags," or search keywords, and give it an honest but attention-grabbing title. Track its performance on YouTube with Google's Insight tool to make sure your target audience is finding it.
  • TIP: Make sure your alliances are sound ones; don't give or receive aid from someone affiliated with anything that could conflict with your movement.
  • Step 3: Raise money. The ways to do so are as varied as the ways your group will likely need it. Add a secure method for web site donations, and try social-networking applications like Facebook Causes. Sell merchandise that can double as advertising. Ask companies to donate as part of their corporate social responsibility plans. Stage a mobile-phone fundraiser. Host a creative event with an entry fee that can also raise awareness.
  • FACT: Invisible Children, a charity helping children ravaged by war, went from raising $300,000 in its first year of existence to $7 million in its third!
  • Step 4: Whatever you do, once you've raised money, use it wisely. Your group might have risen from its humble beginnings, but its mission should always remain as clear as the day you started.
  • Step 5: Using footage from a past event, or images that best represent your cause, edit a short, strategic video that dramatizes the power of your message. Overlay it with simple graphics that define your cause, and issue a call to action. Post the video on social-networking sites, your site's homepage, YouTube, related message boards, and sympathetic blogs. Blast it to your members and ask them to pass it on.
  • Step 6: Seek media attention. Send a press release to media outlets – local and international, online, print, and broadcast – that details your cause, news from any events you hosted, and measurable indicators of your success. Make your release personal and impassioned by including the stories and voices of those impacted by your cause.
  • TIP: Expect some criticism and dissent. Not everyone will agree on what went well and what could be improved, but hearing everyone's ideas is critical to keeping any grassroots movement healthy.
  • Step 7: Reach out to members and event participants via e-mail, text, social-networking sites, and forums. Their feedback should help shape your group's future, set a precedent for open communication, and keep enthusiasm up.
  • Step 8: Establish an infrastructure and delegate responsibilities. Approach the people who have been the most effective thus far and ask them to take on leadership roles. Putting this structure in place now is critical to growing in the future; as you expand in size and scope, you'll need help running the organization.
  • TIP: Ask members to take on specific roles that suit their talents and skills, like heading up membership outreach, fundraising, event planning, or public relations.
  • TIP: Set priorities for all your short-term items now, and review your progress frequently.
  • Step 9: Have your new core group examine feedback to help define your cause and its goals. Once you've reached consensus on what you want to achieve, create a short-term and a long-term action plan to focus on what needs to be done within the next six months – and what you hope to accomplish in the coming years.
  • Step 10: Strike while the iron is hot. Whether you've organized a successful event, your membership is skyrocketing, or your cause is in the news, your group is getting buzz. Act fast to capitalize on this visibility and heightened awareness.

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