Here at thedatabank’s offices in Minneapolis, there is snow outside. It’s generally the time of year when people stay indoors with a cup of hot cocoa and relax. While the Federal Legislature appears to be in perpetual session, most State Legislatures are out of session, but will begin soon. This makes it the perfect time to get your 2012 advocacy campaign in order and start warming up your activists and getting your goals for the upcoming year in order.

A great way to kick off your advocacy campaign is with a test of your advocacy software. Here are three ways to get your advocates engaged and enthused:

1. Ask Advocates to Update Their Contact Information
Unless you’ve performed a recent National Change of Address update on your list of activists, it’s likely that 13% of your database is out of date. Another potential difficulty is that you may have an address for a person which is not their primary residence. By asking them to update their address themselves, you ensure that you are getting the most accurate address information. Although for most of the country, redistricting will not play a role in their advocacy campaigns for this upcoming session, it can also be valuable to remind your activists who their current legislators are.

2. State Your Goals for the Upcoming Session
Instead of abruptly issuing your first action alert of the session, give your activists the big picture. What is the change that you are trying to effect? Remembering that a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end – lay the ground work for the beginning of your story. Recapping what happened last year will create context and increase enthusiasm for your upcoming campaign.

3. Solicit Feedback From Your Advocates
You like that your activists are opinionated and not afraid to tell someone what they think. Use that to your advantage and ask them what they think. By soliciting feedback, you not only learn what’s important to your advocates but also give them the opportunity to be heard – something that is very important to them.

You can accomplish these objectives and more in a single usage of your advocacy software. Create and send an action alert which states your objectives for the upcoming session, provides a link to update their address information, and instead of targeting a legislator, target yourself to receive any feedback from your constituents. A helpful by-product of this engagement is that it will also refresh you and your constituents memories of how to use your advocacy software.