Attracting Elected Officials as Champions
*Adapted from “National Youth Service Day: Taking Service to Scale. Lead Agency Effective Practices,” 2005. Youth Service America.
If you want to involve elected officials as champions of your initiative, here are a few tips to attract their attention and commitment.
Take Your Event to Them
Hold your kickoff event at the state capital or other site where influential elected officials are located.
Invite Them Early
Elected officials need a lot of lead time to place an event on their schedules. Once invited, have your point person working with leaders and champions follow up regularly until the officials have let you know whether or not they can attend.
Diversify Your Invitation List
Invite national, state, and local officials to participate in your event. Sometimes, the presence of one official will lead to others wanting to attend.
Make it Easy to Attend
To make it as easy and convenient as possible for an elected official to attend:
- Have the date, time, location and specific event information available before you make your invitation
- Draft talking points if the official will have a speaking role
- Provide extra help that will make things go smoothly such as a parking permit, a map to the location, and someone to greet them when they arrive and guide them throughout the event
Provide Options for Involvement
Speaking at the kickoff, serving at a project, or writing a letter of support are great ways for an elected official to participate. Also consider asking an official to do something only he or she can do such as issuing a proclamation that shows the community’s official support for your MLK Day initiative.
Thank Them in Creative Ways
For example, send them photos or media clippings of the event. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper thanking the officials who participated. Send them a memento of the day such as a framed photo of their service or children’s artwork created at the event.