Rocky Mountain Chapter

Build Your Own Conservation Campaign and Make It a Chapter Priority!

Anti Nuclear Power Rally
A rally against nuclear power in Pueblo in 2011- a member's idea for a campaign that won.
Photo credit: Ceal Smith.

Every year, the chapter selects from the best priority conservation ideas that the chapter's members and volunteers outline (if you're not currently a member, or your membership has lapsed, join us now.)

If you have a great idea for a Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter priority conservation campaign, then be sure to tell us!

Here's the outline for how to proceed:

  1. Think of a conservation idea that impacts a region or the state (local ideas should be discussed at the local group level if a group exists in that area) and complete an application to establish a new chapter conservation priority;
  2. The chapter's Executive Committee reviews all applications and the budget available for them, and makes decisions in January;
  3. The approved campaigns proceed to be implemented by the shared-leadership core team (applicants and any volunteer leaders recruited) leading it.

Chapter priority conservation campaign application details:

The purpose of this form is to set your team up for success on your Chapter Conservation Priority Campaign. By answering these questions, your team will have the information needed to develop a team charge and a clear strategy for accomplishing its goal(s). Your campaign application answers will seed the start of a campaign plan and team-building. The Executive Committee (ExCom) will decide which proposals will be approved as Chapter priorities.

(Note: Chapter Conservation Priority Campaigns are a prioritized set of campaigns that are distinguished from the Conservation Advisory Committee’s (ConsCom’s) on-going, non-priority campaigns and efforts. Designated chapter priority campaigns work within an approved budget allotment, separate from the ConsCom’s budget for other ongoing, non-priority efforts.)

Criteria for Establishing a Campaign Priority:

  1. Is conceived in positive and solution-oriented terms;
  2. Will make a significant difference in measurable real-world outcomes*;
  3. Can actively appeal to the membership and the public;
  4. Will help build chapter capacity of members and leaders;
  5. Has significant existing or potential volunteer recruitment, organizing capacity and activism;
  6. Is aligned with Sierra Club’s mission and has significant potential to benefit Colorado’s public health and environment, and, when applicable to the proposed campaign topic, aligns with national Sierra Club’s priorities**.

* The definition of “outcomes” is intended to coincide with the national Sierra Club Conservation Department’s definition of “External Outcomes: The ultimate, measurable changes in the world we intend to achieve through a given set of activities.”

** If a national campaign or program has funded a staff organizer in a particular chapter’s territory, it is smart for that chapter to formally establish this work as a chapter priority in order to fully leverage the work of staff (paid for by their campaign) to achieve shared goals and build the chapter’s visibility and organizational capacity through that campaign work.

Application annual timelines:

The Executive Committee will consider applications mid-year in rare necessary circumstances, but funding for approved mid-year applications will only be 1/3 of that available at the beginning of the year (unless there are additional unallocated funds in the priority campaigns budget).

2014 application cycle begins with discussion at the October 2014 ExCom meeting.

  • 10/11/2014 - Application window opens, but you can get started on a draft earlier.
  • 12/1/2014 - 1st draft optional application review deadline, for friendly coaching to make improvements to the application so it has the best chance of being approved. Submit this to Matt Reed at matt.reed@sierraclub.org.
  • 1/2/2015 - Final applications due. Submit this to the RMC Executive Committee: rmc-excomm@lists.sierraclub.org (ExCom reviews applications between the due date and the ExCom meeting).
  • 1/17/2015 - January ExCom meeting: final decisions on 2015 chapter conservation priorities.

(Helpful hint: Take advantage of the associated tutorials linked within the application.)

How do I apply?
Read this page for instructions, and download the application here:
2015 Application to Set a Chapter Conservation Priority

Why go through this process?
Chapter priority conservation campaigns receive a higher level of support from staff, gain access to higher levels of financial resources, get a higher level of organized volunteer recruitment directed towards it, and are generally given a higher level of priority in the chapter with things such as membership and media outreach.

What is the time commitment?
The campaign will be run by the volunteers who propose it and any additional volunteers recruited for it. The amount of time put into the campaign is determined by yourself and the rest of the volunteers with the time they have. If there are seven people on the core team who are all putting in 4 to 5 hours per week of work on the campaign, then there's 28 to 35 hours of work being done every week!

When can I work on a campaign? I have a day-job and a life!
If you're passionate about a conservation idea, and you want to carve out some hours to work on it within your schedule, then you can probably work on the core team's leadership. It will take a commitment from you to simply follow-through on anything that you say you will do as part of this team. It's less about setting a schedule, and more about simply following through on what you say you will do in the time you've said you would do it. You're in control of your schedule.

What if I don't know how to build and run a conservation campaign?
Sierra Club has a great history with training volunteers. We not only have self-tutorial activist handbooks, but if your conservation idea is approved as a chapter priority, you will get specialized training by Sierra Club staff at the chapter and national level (national Sierra Club offers periodic trainings via phone and webinar). You will be coached at every step of the way, and depending on how self-sufficient your team becomes, the Chapter Director can start you out, facilitate your team's first meetings, and then move towards a support role as your team becomes stronger. The important thing is to recruit an interdisciplinary core team, and get the team to the point that it can operate on its own.

How do I recruit a core team?
First, you should think about what types of skills a team like yours, working on your conservation idea, would need to be successful. Then, if you don't know of people who can fill those roles, the chapter will help you recruit them. We already have a large database of people who have expressed interests in volunteering on many issues. You're giving them the opportunity to step-up just by outlining what you need them to do!

Who makes decisions? Who leads the team?
Ideally, once the core-team of four to seven volunteers is recruited to some specifically-outlined roles (like "organizer," "media specialist," "researcher," et cetera), the team would be coordinated by one person, and decisions would be made by consensus. How the team makes decisions would be up to the team, though. One of the first things the core team would decide together is how to make decisions- by vote? by consensus? by one individual? The team would outline its operating procedures as one of its first activities.

How often does the team need to meet?
This, too, is up to the core team. The team could decide to have monthly or weekly calls. It could decide not to have calls, and just work online and/or in person. However, successful teams with an active set of goals will likely have a weekly or every-other-week series of calls that serve to coordinate the work being done between calls.

Will I have to pay for the expenses of the campaign?
No. The expenses for the campaign are outlined in the application. If your application is approved, then your approved expenses are reimbursed by the chapter. When needed, you can request a check prior to an expense, but this takes additional time to process- you may not want to wait and instead prefer to pay for "it" and get reimbursed afterward.

Additional questions?
Contact joshua.ruschhaupt@sierraclub.org

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