Organizing a Coalition
When initiating efforts to conduct a Pedestrian Safety Campaign, maximize resources and reach by securing a well-rounded group of subject matter experts, businesspeople, civic leaders and dedicated community volunteers. Enlisting the support of these allies could make the difference between a successful program and a mediocre one.
- Strength and power in numbers, leading to a wider reach.
- Added credibility to the community, when there is a coordinated plan, a united front and a consistent message.
- A public perception of tangible, broad community support.
- Media attention and public profile for organizations that may not otherwise achieve it.
- Increased access to policy-makers.
- Networking and partnership opportunities.
- Economies of scale and cost-efficiency.
- Division of labor and reduced duplication of effort.
- The exciting feeling of belonging to something greater than the sum of its parts.
A Pedestrian Safety Campaign coalition should be structured to:
- Involve all key players.
- Choose realistic strategies.
- Establish a shared vision.
- Build ownership at all levels.
- Institutionalize change.
- Publicize successes.
How to Start a Coalition
Begin by forming a core group of three or more organizations. Remember, as few as two or three dedicated members can keep a coalition going. Discuss possible dates for first meeting. Set a date. Send out letters announcing meeting date, time and place. The letter should briefly inform about the purpose of the campaign and your community's goals. The first meeting is informational. Propose a name for the coalition. Have a representative from each participating organization sign up as a group liaison volunteer. This will be your contact person within a given group. Tell the coalition the campaign goals you have developed for your community and/or invite coalition members to further define and refine goals. The second meeting should solidify goals, and develop strategies, tactics, job assignments, timeline and next steps. Meeting schedules and frequencies will depend upon proposed projects.
Recruiting Coalition Members
Determine which individuals and/or organizations can best serve your needs. Logical partners for your Pedestrian Safety Campaign are parties that have a stake in reducing pedestrian crashes. You will also need subject matter experts to contribute to your efforts. Previous coalitions around the country have included:
- Public safety officials.
- Local government officials.
- Local law enforcement officials.
- Public health professionals.
- School officials.
- Businesses (insurance companies, etc.).
- Health care providers.
- Public works or engineering officials.
Refer to Table 1 on page 13 for a more comprehensive list of organizations and individuals that may support this cause.
Conduct the Necessary Research
Before contacting particular individuals or groups, find out what their needs, interests and goals are. Match your needs to the needs, interests and goals of your potential coalition members. You will need to relate your campaign to their needs, interests and goals when you contact them. If you can show how helping this cause helps them, they will be more likely to join forces with you.
Prepare Your Pitch
When your invitation is accepted by potential coalition members, you will have to be respectful of their time. Your job is to convince them of the merit of the Pedestrian Safety Campaign in short order. Be prepared to explain:
- What the program is.
- Why it is important.
- What benefits they can reap by participating.
- What this particular person or organization could do to support the program.
Follow Up With Thanks
If you have gained a supporter, follow up with written thanks and next steps. If you have been turned down, it is still important to follow up with written thanks. You are creating the first impression of the program. You want the word-of-mouth generated within the community to be positive.
How to Manage a Coalition
The core group will keep everything going. The core group meets as often as necessary - once a week, three times a month - whatever is required. Communication is key. Use every means available. You might want to set up a group email and/or conference calls.
Campaign volunteers will have varying areas of expertise. They should be organized according to those areas. The following task areas should be assigned:
- Engineering and Planning
Engineers, planners and pedestrian coordinators are important because they have insight into the safe design of roadways and pedestrian facilities.
- Medical Community
Members assigned to this task area serve a twofold purpose. First, they can serve as a voice to the community. They can share firsthand knowledge of the consequences of pedestrian crashes with local schools and neighborhoods. Some may even serve as appropriate media spokespersons, if properly trained in message development and other media techniques. Second, they often are associated with hospitals and other healthcare institutions that have strong media contacts already established. These coalition members can be one of your conduits to a strong voice in the community. In addition, they have a very good idea of the health benefits and hazards associated with walking, as well as access to hospital data on pedestrian crashes.
- Law Enforcement
Law enforcement coalition members can also serve as a voice to the community. After working with your local law enforcement organizations, identify appropriate spokespeople, and encourage them to make presentations at local schools, associations and town meetings regarding the Pedestrian Safety Campaign. In addition, where appropriate, law enforcement should be involved with actively enforcing the locality's pedestrian laws. They also have access to police crash reports and data on pedestrian crashes.
|TABLE 1 Potential Coalition Participants|
Local Government/Law Enforcement
Transportation & Safety Groups
- Pre-Campaign Evaluation and Statistical Data Gathering
Data needs to be collected, analyzed, evaluated and summarized prior to the official program kickoff. The data group is responsible for comparing and analyzing the national and local data to present a more compelling case for local action. For instance, if pedestrian crash statistics exceed the national norm, your coalition has a built-in message platform to convey to the community and the media. Members assigned to this task area could include a representative from the office of your Governor's Highway Safety Representative (GR), enforcement officials and safety engineering professionals. Crash data is usually available from the police department.
If community support and corporate donations comprise a significant portion of your budget, fundraising is an essential task. Finding at least one or two professional fundraisers who will support the campaign and direct volunteer fundraisers is crucial to success. Local universities and charitable organizations are usually good sources to tap for experienced fundraisers.
- Public Relations
In order to secure placements of the PSAs, news stories and other materials, you will need individuals who are skilled at handling the media and generating media interest. These coalition members adapt the generic press materials provided in this kit so they have a local focus, contact the media to pursue press coverage, oversee production and placement of public service announcements (PSAs), manage production of all promotional items, and plan events (such as the program kickoff press conference and traffic safety fairs). Members assigned to this task area include local media representatives, volunteers from local advertising and public relations agencies and your organization's public affairs or media relations expert. A sample "pitch letter" to potential coalition participants is provided on page 16.
Although forming a coalition may sound like a daunting task, its rewards are many. The secret to success is recruiting a core group of dedicated individuals and then sharing resources. Some of the most successful resource-sharing tips are:
- Create a contact list
Ask yourself what types of skills you need that your core group cannot provide. Then ask that core group if they know individuals with those talents or skills. You will be amazed at how quickly the gaps are filled.
- Meet at regular intervals to share progress and resources
One group member may have found a particularly useful way to accomplish something that would benefit other task areas. Bringing groups of people together to brainstorm about possible ways of doing things (creating media attention, etc.) will ensure no resources are left untapped.
- Work the numbers
The larger the number of people you have working with you, the more likely your message will get out to the community at large (as long as that number is reasonably sized - you don't want the coalition to become unwieldy). Ask current coalition members to recruit friends, family and business associates to support your cause. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, so make it work for you by encouraging coalition participants to talk up the pedestrian safety project effort. Numbers count, particularly if you institute a letter-writing program or similar tactic.
Sample Coalition Pitch Letter
Mr. Joe Friendly
Dear Mr. Friendly:
Did you know that according to Anytown police statistics, 340 pedestrian crashes are reported every year? And that last year alone, seven Anytown pedestrians were killed?
Because we are concerned about the safety of our community's citizens, as well as the associated economic costs to Anytown, we are implementing the Anytown Pedestrian Safety Campaign , a public information and education program organized by Anytown's Mayor Carol Smith.
The goal of the program is to increase the community's awareness of pedestrian safety by targeting both pedestrians and drivers. We seek to educate the community about devices like crosswalks and pedestrian traffic signals that help to keep pedestrians safe and healthy. In addition, we hope to raise awareness among drivers and remind them to always look for pedestrians, especially at designated crossing locations.
I hope you will consider being part of the Anytown Pedestrian Safety Campaign coalition and would appreciate a chance to further discuss this program with you. I will call you in the near future to set up a time that is convenient for you.
This Pedestrian Safety Campaign is intended to be customized and therefore unique to each community, based upon local needs and resources. This Step-by-Step Guide is designed to guide each community in building a successful campaign, using the ideas and strategies provided.
The Pedestrian Safety Campaign can be customized for your community in a number of ways. One way to organize your coalition's effort is to schedule the following six elements based on a 6-day/6-week/6-month timeline. The duration of your timeline should be selected based on your coalition's interests, membership, resources and goals. It does not have to be a 6-event campaign. Be sure to check community calendars to avoid major events that would prevent media from covering your event. Talk to media outlets before setting a date for your kickoff and other important events. The materials provided are for your adaptation and use in implementing your campaign. This planner includes six important areas of focus. Your coalition may choose to focus on these events or may choose to vary them according to the needs of your community. You are not committed to using these six ideas. You can implement any number of them. The materials are designed to work with the following themes.
- Event 1: Targeting the Pedestrian: Traffic Signals & Crosswalks
- Event 2: Targeting the Pedestrian: Reflective Materials: What are They?
- Event 3: Targeting the Pedestrian: Child Pedestrian Safety
- Event 4: Targeting the Pedestrian: Elderly Pedestrian Safety
- Event 5: Targeting the Driver: Look and Stop for Pedestrians
- Event 6: Targeting the Driver: Unsignalized Crosswalks and Mid-Block Crossing
Each event can be a separate focus for your campaign. Further, each event could have one or more activities associated with it. For example, your event plans might include:
- Event 1: Targeting the Pedestrian: Traffic Signals & Crosswalks Program kick-off event in local town center with speaker. Speaker could be a victim of a pedestrian crash. May be related to recently installed/improved pedestrian facilities. Send out a program kick-off press release. Distribute campaign materials.
- Event 2: Targeting the Pedestrian: Reflective Materials: What are They? Scheduled speaker at City Hall explains why pedestrians need to be visible at night and how reflective materials can help. Send out a reflective materials/event press release. Distribute reflective items/brochures.
- Event 3: Targeting the Pedestrian: Child Pedestrian Safety School event distributing reflective stickers or pins, offering an opportunity for local law enforcement to speak to children about the importance of visibility and other safe pedestrian behaviors, such as crossing techniques and the meaning of the pedestrian signals. Send out a press release about child pedestrian issues. Work with teachers to include this topic in curriculum and prepare materials for parents to get involved.
- Event 4: Targeting the Pedestrian: Elderly Pedestrian Safety Event at local senior center offering an opportunity for local law enforcement to speak to seniors about special considerations for their safety when walking. Could also offer an opportunity for a local senior to address the public/press about the importance of driver cooperation and attention to senior pedestrians. Invite media by sending out a "vulnerable road users" and event press release.
- Event 5: Targeting the Driver: Look and Stop for Pedestrians Event coordinated with law enforcement to stop drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Media invited to film the operation and speak with community officials about the operation and its impact on pedestrian safety.
- Event 6: Targeting the Driver: Unsignalized Crosswalks and Mid-Block Crossing Campaign closing event featuring a victim as speaker. Wraps up the campaign. Use a campaign-closing press release. Distribute campaign materials.
Each campaign coordinator can use these ideas as they relate to an individual community's needs and resources. You may want to create a fast and hard-hitting schedule, or you may want to stretch activities through changing seasons. The campaign materials provided can be successful in many different formats.
For a 6-day timeline, your activities will have to be quick, easily understood and rapid-fire. Each day is a different unit or focus. To be successful with this timeline, secure a media partner, or partners, first. The media partner(s) should commit to running a story or PSA every day of the campaign. The 6-day timeline could work well for school-related activities. The 6-day timeline could be any 6-day period you choose.
Spread the campaign out and encourage local organizations to conduct their own activities with this timeline format. Each week is a different focus. Week one could include a pedestrian parade through town with the Mayor and other local officials, with events at schools, public transportation sites and local businesses the following weeks. The 6-week timeline could be any 6-week period you choose.
- 6-Week Example Timelines:
- First week of March to the second week of April
- Warmer weather increases outdoor activity.
- Third week in April to the last week of May
- Warmer weather increases outdoor activity and message coincides with the end of the traditional school year.
- Last week of October to the first week of December
- Daylight savings time begins and darkness falls earlier. Days continue to shorten.
A 6-month timeline could be most effective for a coalition with extensive membership and resources. Each month is a different focus. There is more time between activities, offering the coalition ample opportunity to coordinate large events/projects. The 6-month timeline could be any 6-month period you choose.
- 6-Month Example Timelines:
- Winter to Summer
- December, January, February, March, April, May
- Complements the traditional school year calendar.
- Spring to Fall
- April, May, June, July, August, September
- More useful for a broad campaign that does not require school partnerships for distribution of message.
There are a variety of ways to obtain funding for the Pedestrian Safety Campaign. Following are some suggestions - however, we recommend that you contact your State Department of Transportation for more information on funding options.
General descriptions of two Federal funding categories follow:
Surface Transportation Program (STP)
Under the current Federal transportation funding bill - the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) - the Surface Transportation Program (STP) is a category of funds that is apportioned to each state. A pedestrian safety awareness campaign to improve compliance with traffic control devices (pedestrian signs, pedestrian signals, crosswalks, etc.) is eligible for STP funding and falls within the eligibility requirements of the STP Safety and Transportation Enhancements set-asides. TEA-21 requires that 10 percent of these STP funds each be set aside for infrastructure safety and for Transportation Enhancement activities. State highway or transportation agencies are charged with administering the Federal aid program and are the contact points for discussing STP funding requests.
Section 402 Highway Safety Funds
The Section 402 Highway Safety Program was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1966 and is codified within 23 U.S. Code 402. This Act directs that every state has an approved highway safety program designed to reduce traffic-related fatalities and injuries. State 402 Program funds are administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through funding to the Governors' Highway Safety Representatives in each state.
Section 402 funds can be used to develop countermeasures that include addressing a wide array of highway safety problems related to human factors and some roadway-related, non-construction countermeasures. Examples of these might include projects designed to increase compliance with traffic control devices (such as pedestrian signals, signs, and markings). Any Section 402 funding requests must be directed to the State Governor's Representative. If a pedestrian safety campaignrelated project request is approved by the Governor's Representative, the following are examples of activities that can be funded with those Section 402 funds:
- Salary for a program site coordinator.
- Clerical support.
- Selective law enforcement.
- Observational surveys.
- Statistical tabulation and analysis.
- Subcontracts with public relations and/or media firms.
- Production of bumper stickers, buttons, and other promotional items.
- Travel expenses for meetings and presentations.
- Postage, printing and photocopying.
- Program-related telephone and fax expenses.
(This section is for informational purposes only and not meant as an endorsement by the Federal government.)
Fundraising for your program takes effort and enthusiasm from you and your volunteers, but there are also many benefits of raising your budget through your own work. Aside from the financial gain, you also gain self-sufficiency and independence. It is also a way for you to enhance the strength of your organization and rally around a cause for which the community has already voiced support. Finally, good fundraising creates its own publicity and allows you to highlight your Pedestrian Safety Campaign with key audiences and local media.
You may raise funds by putting on special events or by simply approaching local corporations and the general public. Many publications contain information that can help you develop a fundraising plan. Here are some useful fundraising hints:
- Make sure you have volunteers with fundraising experience or professional fundraisers as part of your community Pedestrian Safety Campaign coalition (see Organizing a Coalition for assistance). Create a fundraising committee or add these individuals to your special events committee and ask them to brainstorm ways to raise funds. Make it a topic of a committee meeting and review suggestions.
- Solicit companies by targeting business organizations that are involved in, or highly concerned with, highway safety - such as insurance companies, or businesses with a high number of employees that commute by car. Review the economic statistics with these groups to stress that the public's compliance with traffic controls will ultimately benefit them (insurance companies save money in reduced claims, large companies eliminate the productivity losses caused by absent employees, etc.). Some companies will benefit simply because their sponsorship of a program that is good for the community will earn them goodwill and media exposure they would not otherwise get.
- Practice talking about the program and asking for money. Most people find asking for money difficult, and usually a potential donor will not offer money on their own.
- Be prepared to meet with potential contributors at their convenience and make the most of every opportunity. Be ready for short-notice meetings by doing your homework prior to your first contact.
- Some foundations or organizations make what they call a matching grant, which will provide a set amount of money if you raise a specific amount in a given time period.
- If you decide on fundraising events, plan activities and events that are fun. It is important that you and your volunteers are having a good time and look forward to the event. Negative attitudes on the part of fundraisers may affect the effort put forth.
- Make sure you invite the media to your fundraising event. This is an ideal time to promote the cause of the fundraiser.
- Many foundations have funding for public education programs. Investigate foundations in your community.
Many companies and organizations may be more willing to donate items and time rather than money, and sometimes this may be even more valuable. Whenever you can, approach companies for donations of this type. Printers and publishers are the most obvious sources to explore, but also look for creative communications methods that can be donated. Marketing, advertising, and research companies may help develop your phone survey list and actually do the calling for you. Public relations agencies often seek pro-bono clients to promote their services, and may offer to assist you in creating media lists, or writing and editing your press materials. Colleges and universities are potential resources to assist in pre- and post-program analysis. Research or marketing departments are often interested in "real life" projects for students as part of the class curriculum. Even grocery chains or snack food companies will sometimes donate food and drinks for a special event that benefits the community. Local sports celebrities often donate their time to promote events in their community.
If you have doubts about which companies in your community to target, you may try sending letters requesting support to the "Top 100 Businesses," a listing which is published in many cities' newspapers or magazines. Your letters do not need to specify what type of support you are requesting, but you should follow up in a timely manner with a phone call to discuss options. Whenever appropriate, recognize donations of this type in your media materials and inform the organizations' community affairs representatives that they may receive media coverage if they work with you.