Photo credit: Shutterstock

Top 10 Tips for Developing Effective Biking & Walking Advocacy Organizations

Photo by Sam Javanrouh, used under Creative Commons licensing. Photo by Sam Javanrouh, used under Creative Commons licensing.

Excerpted from the Alliance for Biking & Walking's blog with permission So you want to lead a great biking and/or walking advocacy organization? We can help. These 10 recommendations come from the Alliance’s many years of experience developing bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations and avoiding typical problems. As an advocate, you can overcome common challenges by following these recommendations. 1. Choose board members carefully. All successful organizations are started by a few dedicated leaders. It is essential to move out of this stage as quickly as possible by bringing in more board members. Choose your board members carefully because one self-serving individual can paralyze the organization. Look for leadership skills (e.g. an ability to compromise, a commitment to the organization, a broad vision), management and/or business experience, and dedication to the success of the organization. 4. Run three achievable campaigns at all times. Through strategic planning, develop a mission, vision, and goals for your organization with your board. Consider the most pressing needs for improving the bicycling and walking environment in the communities your organization serves. You and your board will come up with a long list. Pick the items that will make the most progress toward your organization’s mission and vision. Honestly assess each initiative’s fundraising potential and determine the abilities of your staff, board, and volunteers, as well as your organization’s administrative infrastructure (e.g. office, phone, computer, database). Then pick the goals that are most achievable with your organizational capacity. You should end up with two that make obvious changes on the ground in the short term, so you can draw new partners and members into your organization through promotion of your success. One campaign should be long term, maybe a legislative agenda or an intensive program like Safe Routes to Schools. These long-term initiatives bring substance to your message and your history in the community. As you achieve these successes, fold in new, achievable campaigns. Each year, create a work plan and budget around these campaigns that guide your staff and board. Attend an Alliance Winning Campaigns Training to learn best practices and key elements to plan, implement, and win your campaigns. 7. Members and donors are the most dependable and sustainable funding source. By bringing in members, you build the foundation of your organization and nurture volunteers, new board members, and major donors. Before you seek members, you must first have a system in place for prospecting, recording, thanking, renewing, and keeping track of member dues and donations. Asking for donation without the means of recording those donations or showing appreciation is a critical mistake. With those systems in place, your membership and donor base are sure to grow and become vital funding sources. Read the other seven tips at the Alliance for Biking & Walking.