What were the goals?
In 2016, our firm worked with a small band of community leaders of a small town in a very conservative state. We were asked to help pass millage campaign to expand the public library that would cost taxpayers over $25 million.
What did we do?
Previous millage campaigns for community works projects in this community were run as friends and family affairs. We were asked to help build an effective grassroots support campaign that would weather blistering attacks from national political organizations that opposed any public works reform or expansion.
We combed through mountains of data to identify high propensity voters, and mounted a specific targeted campaign four specific voter profiles:
- Pro-growth business leaders
- K-12 Public School Parents and Grandparents
- Progressive Activists
- Home-School Families
We leveraged attitudinal data to understand which specific messages would appeal to each group and compel them to take action on behalf of the library. Through social media, community visibility events, street marketing and traditional media, we communicated with each audience the benefits of expanding the public library and information about how they could show their support on election day.
Our final task was to bring operational structure to the hodge-podge volunteer efforts to make them an efficient and effective election day turnout machine. We initiated call centers staffed entirely with volunteers, letter writing campaigns with local activists, and fundraising events with high and low level campaign donors. We even sent staff to man high volume polling places to monitor turnout and make final appeals to undecided voters.
How did we win?
On Election Day, in the middle of a tumultuous political cycle, the voters chose to increase their own property taxes by a 59 to 41 majority. From the outset, we knew that the millage campaign was quite literally half the battle. The remaining funds $24 million would need to be raised in private donations. We made the strategic decision to run the public outreach campaign in a manner that positioned the library as one of the community’s most valuable resource — an asset worthy of significant private investment. The community continues to love their library, and fundraising efforts to ensure the library expansions is completed are underway.