By James Whelan
A process guide to be used in training workshops and planning sessions to develop campaign strategy and tactics. A printer friendly PDF can be downloaded from the box at the bottom of this page.
- Introduce participants to lobbying in an experiential way: drawing on existing experience and incorporating a role play
- Identify lobbying as just one tool in a community organiser’s toolkit of skills and techniques for change
- Provide resources and information for future reference
Copies of ‘Lobbying: a tactic for social change’ developed by Lois Levy or other relevant resources on lobbying.
How it’s done
Ideally, share the resource material before your workshop.
2. Opening and check in [15-20 minutes]
Explain the objectives and scope of the min-workshop. Effective lobbying is not something that can be learnt in an hour or so but a skill that’s an integral part of campaign strategy that can take a long time to acquire, through experience and reflection.
Invite people to share their interest in lobbying. How is lobbying important to a campaign you’re involved in or thinking about? Invite a few participants to share brief stories about their experience. If someone in the group has been lobbied (as an elected representative or other decision maker) it’d be interesting to hear their experience.
You might ask people to talk in pairs first, then share with the group.
3. Lobbying in YOUR campaign [10-20 minutes]
Ask people to think about the campaign they’re involved/interested in and to spend 10-15 minutes writing notes on the following questions:
- Who is your target (decision maker)? In your campaign, is this person a primary or secondary target?
- How can they help your group achieve your campaign objective?
- What’s your ask? (Specifically – what are you asking them to do or commit to?)
- Why would they say yes?
- Why would they say no?
- What’s your fallback ask? (If the target won’t agree to your ask? This could be just another meeting).
- If your ask is agreed to what else will you ask for?
If any participants look lost, check they have a specific campaign objective in mind and understand the issues and context well enough to identify one or more targets to lobby.
4. Small group role play [20-40 minutes]
Break into small groups of 3. Ask participants to identify the campaign they each focused on in their writing time. If possible, break into small groups around campaigns people have a shared interest in. In each group of 3, one person take on the role of the lobbyist. This should be someone who knows the campaign reasonably well. One person will play the role of the target. They may need to be briefed by others who know more about the campaign and about the position they (the target) are likely to take.
The third person in each group will be the observer. Provide them with a print copy of the following prompts:
- While you’re observing the role play, keep these questions in mind. We’ll invite your observations first when we debrief the role play.
- What did the lobbyist say that increased their chances of impact and success?
- What did the lobbyist say that decreased their chances of impact and success?
- What was the most the lobbyist might have hoped for, under the circumstances?
- Was the lobbyist prepared with a useful or fall-back ask if they couldn’t get the target to agree to their primary ask?
- How could the lobbyist have demonstrated enough power to secure a commitment to their ask?
- What forms of power did the lobbyist draw on? (eg the power of facts, the power of numbers (of constituents)? The power of moral authority?
The small groups will need at least 10 minutes to prepare for the role play. The participant who is playing the role of the lobbyist needs to ensure the target knows enough about the issue and the person they’re playing. Let people know they can be creative. It’s ok to invent ‘facts’ to embellish the context. For instance, you might like to tell the target how many of their constituents are members of your group or that you’ve surveyed voters in their electorate to gauge support for your campaign.
Prompt the small groups to begin their role play, provide any clarification and support people need, and make sure each group manages at least a short role play. If people finish quickly, they could discuss how it went and try again. Were there opportunities that the lobbyist didn’t take advantage of? Any obvious mistakes to avoid next time?
Bring the small groups back together for a debrief. Consider inviting the observers to share first, based on their prompts. First, they’ll need to let the group know what the campaign was and who characters in their role play were. Invite the ‘lobbyists’ and ‘targets’ to talk about how it went from their perspectives. The targets may have some constructive feedback – ways the lobbyists might have increased their impact and prospects of a ‘yes’ to their ask.
Download a printer friendly PDF from the box below. The PDF includes the the companion handout – Lobbying: a tactic for social change.
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