More than ever, communities must produce smarter tactics to promote school bond referendums. Failing to do so will result in a lack of voter support and an unsuccessful bond initiative. While there are no guarantees, a positive outcome is much more likely to occur when an organized, thoughtful approach is in place.
6 Essential Success Factors to Garner More “Yes” Votes
- Build trust – The relationship between the community, board of education, administration, faculty, and staff is crucial. The connection must be sincere and built up over time. As we know, the existence of trust does not promise success but the absence of it might indicate defeat. Without trust, the chance of a vote failure is high, no matter what other action takes place.
- Listen to stakeholders – Understand the needs of every stakeholder group and include them in the planning process. Appropriately involve them as the initiative advances and keep in mind two-way communication is critical. Consider launching regular surveys to understand the goals of community members and act on the feedback when you get it. After all, investing time to collaborate with the community will pay off.
- Personalize the message – You will need to do some selling to gain support. First, learn about the different groups that make up your district. Then, understand what they need to know about the school bond referendum based on their goals, priorities, and interests. Thus, it will be easier to develop specific messages that appeal to their interests and priorities. Reflect on the unique needs of each group you are trying to reach.
- Use numerous styles of communication – Ignoring critical channels of communication could potentially make or break the campaign. Present your message on local news media outlets, direct mail, social media, and face-to-face to influence all stakeholders. Answering people’s questions, addressing their concerns, and keeping them informed throughout the process is key.
- Community groups – Often, it’s small community groups that do the most effective selling. They represent the stakeholder groups. The individuals who live amongst and regularly engage with voters have the best chance of connecting with people in a personal way. Contemplate capitalizing on these community groups and encourage them to host neighborhood meetings. Intimate Q&A sessions are a proven way to build community understanding and support.
- Public information meeting – Consider holding a public information meeting at the school. Think about organizing the event with each table representing a specific facet that may interest stakeholders; education, finance, building, superintendent, the board of education and PTA. This way community members can walk around and pursue targeted information. The individuals at the tables must be effective in leading one-on-one conversations. This added touch carries a sense that every question is important and will contribute to overall voter turnout.
Securing School Funding Requests
A successful school bond referendum campaign is not the result of the final push. To be effective, you must start from day one crafting the message and fostering support. It’s all about the way you communicate. Trusted relationships and an informed community are keys to a winning outcome.
Author: Jerod Engler | Vice President of Construction | Bush Construction