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Crafting Successful Influence Strategies: The Big Four

Developing a strong influence strategy requires thinking through four critical elements:

  1. A clear sense of the decision(s) that need to get made;
  2. An understanding of who makes these decision(s);
  3. An informed hypothesis about how the decision(s) will get made; and
  4. An understanding of how the organization can influence the decision-making process and a game plan for making that happen.

First, organizations need a clear sense of the decision(s) they want individuals, lawmakers, or other entities to make. Perhaps this is a behavior change, such as a person deciding to wear a seat belt or a bike helmet. Or a policy change that outlaws texting and driving. Or even a business decision, such as a company opting to offer transit benefits to employees. Or a series of decisions, such as becoming a more sustainable company.

Here are some questions that can help identify these decisions:

Want Influence? Eliminate Blind Spots

Organizations working to make the world a better place have strong ambitions. They want to reduce gun violence in the wake of Sandy Hook, get Americans off the couch and active, and keep children safe from climate change. These groups need to wield influence to succeed—not in a Machiavellian way but in a public interest way. Yet often, they can’t articulate exactly how this influence will happen. It is a missing link in their plans to create change. When there is no clear idea for how influence will happen, it often doesn’t. Social change remains elusive.

Charting influence is a tricky proposition. It is made trickier when organizations don’t approach planning with a clear idea of what the possibilities are for cultivating and using influence effectively. Rather than clarity, they have blind spots in their change strategies and these blind spots can undermine even the most worthy campaigns. Spitfire Strategies has developed a short guide to help nonprofits and foundations navigate a trail of influence by identifying—and eliminating—blind spots before they sabotage change strategies.

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