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Tips for Using the VotersForPeace Pledge

Based on organizing tips developed by United for Peace and Justice http//www.unitedforpeace.org

Our vision is that a broad range of national, state, and local organizations will use the VotersForPeace Pledge to pressure candidates to take a pro-peace position and raise the political costs to pro-war candidates. By using the VotersForPeace Pledge, you can increase the pressure on all candidates in your Congressional district to adopt a pro-peace position. At the same time, the pledge can be used to build your group's membership base by identifying more people who support peace candidates. Read below for tips on how to successfully use the pledge in your organization.

Let's make this a movement that the politicians can no longer afford to ignore!

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1. Be prepared. Make sure you have all of the materials necessary for your pledge gathering.

- Pledge forms, which you can download and print here
- Clipboards
- Ink pens

2. Think strategically! Identify your target audience, location, tactics and goals ahead of time.

- Identify a constituency you expect to be receptive to our pro-peace message. For instance, polls indicate that antiwar sentiment is particularly strong among African Americans. Perhaps you want to focus on women with children, or young voters on college campuses.

- Identify where and when folks from this constituency congregate. Figure out the best days and times to approach the largest number of people in the least amount of time. Here are some ideas:

- At their homes in a targeted precinct
- Community concerts, fairs and picnics
- Neighborhood churches, schools, or markets
- Political events, town hall meetings, activist meetings

You can also ask your local coffee shops, retail stores, and co-ops to put the pledge on their counter!

- Decide which outreach tactics will be most effective in reaching the target constituency. A presentation at the church? Knocking on doors? The key is to make one-on-one contact. If possible, identify people trusted and respected within this community, and approach them directly to see if they can introduce you to others (this is called "credentialing") and/or suggest how you can most effectively approach members of the community.

- Develop concrete goals for the numbers of signatures your group will gather and a timeline to do that. If you are working with other groups in the same Congressional district, develop district-wide goals. Put all this into a plan listing who will gather signatures, where, how, and when.

- Avoid spending excessive time with any one contact, especially convinced pro-war people.

3. Educate your audience. Use and/or distribute educational material to anyone you ask to sign.

Carry with you the VotersForPeace Pledge FAQs to answer any questions about the pledge. You can find other materials on why we need to get out of Iraq and what people can do to end the war at www.afsc.org, www.war-times.org, www.nationalpriorities.org and other sites.

4. Follow-up on your leads! Build a list of contacts and ask pledge signers to attend your group's next meeting or action.

- Ask pledge signers to attend your next meeting when they sign (be sure to give them the info on paper), or follow-up with a phone call within no more than 3 days from the time they sign the pledge.

- Invite pledge signers to join your email list. (Adding people without asking their permission alienates them.)

5. Tell your candidates and the local media about the pledge! Make public your commitment to peace and demand a response from your elected officials and candidates.

- Stage a public encounter with Congressional candidates each time you reach a milestone in gathering signatures. Deliver copies of the pledges to them and announce the number of pledge signers in their district. Demand that the candidate respond to antiwar sentiment in their district by publicly opposing the Iraq war and other wars of aggression, or thank pro-peace candidates for their support.

- Phone bank and email pledge signers and allies to attend the action.

- Start a "cancelled check" campaign. Send a contribution to a peace candidate (in your or another district/state) and make a cancelled or "VOID" check to the pro-war candidate in your district/state. Send a copy of both checks to the local media and to your pro-war candidate with a statement that you signed the VotersForPeace Pledge. Organize ten friends to join you - and expect to get a call for a meeting!

- Invite the media to cover your event. Frame the action as part of the ongoing battle between grassroots antiwar sentiment and pro-war elected officials.

- Print an item in your group's newsletter or other publication about the pledge. Post a link to the VotersForPeace Pledge on your blog or website.

6. Keep us informed!

- Send in your completed pledge forms. You have two options for submitting pledges:

1. Mail them to: VotersForPeace, 6930 Carroll Ave, Suite 240, Takoma Park, MD 20912; or

2. Enter the names into an excel spreadsheet and email the file to [email protected]. Please use this spreadsheet as a template.

- Tell us what has worked in your area. Email us at [email protected] and share your tips, strategies and success stories.

 
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