1/Laying the Groundwork

Give yourself the best chance of success by starting early enough to do the necessary research and build a broad base of support.

Educate Yourself

Before launching a conservation funding measure, you will need to do some background research to determine what type of measure to propose, which upcoming election promises the best chance of success, and how to get the measure on the ballot. To develop a successful strategy, you must understand your jurisdiction’s political landscape and voters’ conservation concerns, and identify potential allies and opponents. Before setting up the official campaign committee, you need to learn the legal, technical, and financial requirements.

Go to Background Research for a series of questions that will get you started on the following key campaign elements: Deciding on the Measure; Getting on the Ballot; Setting up a Campaign Committee; Campaign Message Research; and Strategic Groundwork.

For in-depth research, go to Campaign Services.

Build Political Support

By approaching officials before a campaign becomes public it is easier to develop a strategy that addresses any political concerns and enjoys the support of all factions. Ideally, you have at least one elected official who is a strong champion from the outset.

As a general rule, conservation campaigns should not endorse candidates for political office. Avoid having your ballot measure become a partisan or campaign issue for opposing candidates. Instead, you should seek endorsement of your ballot measure from all candidates and political parties to help spread your campaign message and win additional votes.

In a contested election, political parties often mount extensive grassroots efforts for their candidates. If they endorse your measure on the slate of recommended candidates (called a “palm card” in some parts of the country) that is typically handed out on Election Day by volunteers at the poll.

Begin Assembling a Coalition

Ideally, land conservation measures will be supported by local elected leaders from all sides of the political spectrum, and at every level of government, although campaigns have succeeded even when they were not able to get elected officials on board. Core supporters often come from local conservation, farm, parks, recreation, or planning boards, and from land trusts or environmental organizations. Support from the business and farm communities can be particularly helpful.

Assess Potential Opposition

Do not worry about every bit of opposition. All campaigns have opposition. You should attempt to neutralize opposition that is particularly credible and persuasive, or is bringing substantial resources (money or mouthpiece) to bear. What groups might oppose the measure and would they be able to mount a campaign? Use your knowledge of the community to gauge the power of a potential opponent.

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