Intro to Campaign Organizing

GSAs work to raise awareness, push policies and educate their campuses through workshops, assemblies, days of action and campaigns. When you see student rights are not being implemented, it is our duty to hold our schools and communities accountable and create change. Sometimes you see a little change. Sometimes you see a lot.

But what are the magic steps that turn your activism from small steps into big impact?

This resource and accompanying tactic guides will help you think through a campaign strategy to win the rights you deserve, like gender neutral restrooms, restorative justice practices, or anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and race.

Creating a GSA Campaign Strategy

Before you start your campaign, there are a few key things you should identify. It’s easiest to figure out your strategy in conversation — so we’ve created a sample text message exchange, where we ask you the questions you need to answer with your GSA. Fill out the worksheet on the next page and, if you have trouble, use the example text exchange on the third page for help. You can also contact GSA Network for support to set up a strategy session with a local organizer near you.

  1. Identify your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound, Evaluate, and Readjust goals are precise and clear, rather than overly broad or ambiguous.
  2. Identify your target.
  3. Identify your strengths, opportunities, supporters and allies.
  4. Identify your improvements and threats.
  5. Identify your tactics (Use our Campaign Tactic Guides to choose and plan your tactics).
  6. Start your campaign & WIN!
Identify your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal:

First you need to know what you’re trying to change. Do you have a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal or outcome in mind for your campaign?

Think of something you can achieve. If your broad goal is to eliminate transphobia, for example, your campaign goal might be getting a gender neutral dress code or restroom.

Identify your target

Who is the person that has the decision-making power to change the situation? Are they on your side, against you, or in-between?

Some groups choose to use a “Power Map” [see Power Mapping Activity] to determine the best target and landscape of their allies and supporters.

Identify your strengths, opportunities, supporters and allies

Great, that should be your target! Now, who are your allies? Who can help support you to get to your outcome?

Allies and supporters can help you achieve your goal. PEOPLE POWER is a great asset in a campaign: the more people you can get, the more power you have when unified.

Identify your improvements and threats

What are some of your areas of improvements? What is threatening your club from succeeding in your campaign?

Be honest when coming up with your list of improvement and threats. They help you plan to strengthen your club.

Identify your tactics

There are many different ways to pressure your target to achieve your goal, including letter-writing, direct actions, and petitions. How are you and your allies going to influence your target?

Learn about specific tactics and how to plan them as part of your campaign with GSA Network’s Campaign Tactics Guides.

Related Resources: