Toolkit: Community Engagement

Community Engagement

Elections are a good time to get all voters thinking about child care.

Speaking with voters directly is the best way to engage them on the issue. You can create opportunities for conversation in many different ways: leafleting on the street (mainstreeting); setting up an information table at a farmer’s market, local festival or other community event; or through door-to-door canvasses.

People expect political candidates to stop them for a chat. Often voters are even more receptive to hearing from non-partisan, issue-based campaigners like us.

Quick Tips for Success

  • Go with a group. Whether you are handing out information at an event or knocking on doors, always work with a friend or a group of friends and colleagues. It makes the experience more fun, safe and interesting. Take turns doing the talking and help each other tweak your messages based on the reactions you get.
  • Listen more than you talk. Community engagement is all about listening to people, trying to understand their priorities and making a connection between their concerns and child care.
  • Give out material.A short pamphlet is a good conversation starter and it can also be left behind with the voter to look over after the conversation.
  • Stay non-partisan. Our campaign is issue-based and non-partisan, meaning that we don’t tell people who to vote for or which party to support. We want everyone to understand the importance of child care and to tell their politicians and candidates that child care matters.
  • State what action the other person should take.  Ideally this is an action they can take right away – like signing a petition (included in this kit). Record names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers on the spot. Petitions give us a record of supporters and the information we need to re-contact them in the future.
  • Handling unfriendly people. Occasionally you will encounter someone who is vehemently opposed to public spending on early childhood education and care. (“Why should I pay for other people’s children?!” etc., etc.) Do not feel obliged to listen for long or engage with people who are highly resistant or rude. We probably cannot change their mind and the longer we spend debating them the less time we have to talk to someone who we could motivate to get involved in our campaign. To tactfully remove yourself from the situation just say something like, “Perhaps if I had your life experiences, I’d feel the way you do. Have a nice day.” Then head off, head held high 🙂
  • Have fun! Mainstreeting and canvassing are fun and friendly way to meet neighbours and people with similar interests.

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