Grassroots advocates are those who have a connection to elected officials because they are constituents. Hearing from constituents is important to lawmakers; just a handful of letters or phone calls from grassroots advocates can make legislators take notice and act on an issue. While the internet has changed the way that organizations run grassroots campaigns, web-based "point-and -click" action networks should be viewed as a great way to introduce people to grassroots advocacy. Your organization can use online networks to help identify grassroots advocates who are willing to take offline action through phone calls, letter writing and visits to decision-makers.
Understanding why grassroots advocates are connected to your organization or issue will help you engage them. Ask grassroots early on why they are personally invested in your issue – what they share can become a way to transform them to leaders that you rely on to build relationships with decision-makers, convey your message to media, and share their personal stories in support of your issue.
Grasstops (or key contacts) are those who by virtue of their special expertise, position, or personal relationship are more likely to get direct information from a decision-maker. Grasstops can be cultivated through research into a lawmaker's interests and affiliations and forming relationships with leaders in those organizations. Grasstops can also be discovered by asking your grassroots advocates about relationships they have with decision-makers or those connected to decision-makers. You may be surprised by the connections your grassroots already have to "pathways of influence" in your campaign!