4 Ways that ONE Helped Pass the Electrify Africa Act

Written by Sean — March 26, 2016
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When it comes to the world of petitions, getting Decision Makers to pay attention to your issue often requires a multi-channel effort, using both online and offline channels of communication in a coordinated way. This can be especially impactful when we’re talking about members of government, who are often at the receiving end of petitions.

ONE, an international advocacy organization — co-founded by Bono — that works to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, knows this well. By combining a mix of online and offline campaigning strategies, ONE drove incredible awareness and impact with its petition that asked Congress to pass the Electrify Africa Act, which will provide 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa with first-time access to electricity.

The Electrify Africa Act was introduced in Congress in 2013; it seeks to prioritize and coordinate U.S. government resources to achieve electricity in Africa. ONE has since rallied an incredible 135,000 (and counting!) individuals to sign their petition, effectively raising public awareness and pressing political leaders to support the Electrify Africa Act.

The Electrify Africa Act was passed in the Senate in December 2015 and it was passed in the House this February. President Obama signed the the bill into law on February 9, 2016.

This is a huge victory for ONE’s campaign that could not have been possible without the support and commitment of ONE members. Here’s what you can take away from its success so far and four tips on how to replicate it.

1. Engage your current supporters
ONE knows that in order to demonstrate a show of force on a campaign, it is critical to leverage its passionate and engaged supporters — both online and offline.

On the digital front, ONE looked to its robust, online support base to move the needle on the Electrify Africa campaign by sending supporters emails that asked them to sign the online petition — which also provided an opportunity to cultivate its existing online supporters.

Offline, ONE relied on its incredible, nationwide network of grassroots volunteers, who work passionately to mobilize others. In the case of the Electrify Africa campaign, the volunteer network has been key to offline recruitment and petition delivery (but more on that in just a bit!).

2. Promote your campaign to new supporters who care
On top of engaging their current supporter list, ONE also took the opportunity to find new folks who were also passionate about bringing more electricity to Africa.

One way they did this was by promoting its Electrify Africa Act petition on Change.org, where ONE connected with more than 77,000 people who signed and supported the petition. This connected ONE with thousands of new supporters who ended up becoming activists in the fight against poverty and preventable disease.

3. Create momentum on different channels
This is where ONE’s incredible network of volunteers comes into play. Its volunteer network and Field Team have been critical in creating offline momentum for the campaign. In particular, volunteers managed a comprehensive ground-game on university campuses as well as at concerts, coffee shops, home events, and farmer’s markets.

Knowing how impactful letters would be, they also gave people the ability to write handwritten notes to their representatives — which provided a personalized, impactful touch when it came time to deliver the  thousands of letters.

And this element of personalization is key — especially across multiple channels. ONE volunteers wrote letters, called their Representatives, and tweeted at them as well.

4. Deliver petition signatures in-person
What’s next after you’ve gained your list of signatures? Well, a good petition delivery strategy is key to any advocacy campaign, as it provides the opportunity to highlight the momentum that has been built up around your campaign.

An incredible 426 House petition deliveries were made by ONE. Yes, they delivered petitions to 426 offices(!) — including all 100 Senators’ district offices throughout the U.S. — which broke ONE petition delivery records.

Organizations might be inclined to deliver all the petition signatures to congressional offices on Capitol Hill, but consider taking a more local approach. ONE delivered to district offices in all 50 states, all over the course of a couple  weeks! These local petition deliveries handled by the volunteer network had an incredible personal touch — showing members of Congress just how much their constituents cared about the Electrify Africa Act face-to-face.

You can check out the photos of the deliveries here.

At the end of the day, there’s no question that using multiple channels to draw attention to an issue that tons of people care about has maximum impact. Keep it personal, consistent, and face-to-face — and suddenly that message becomes very hard to ignore.

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