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Power Mapping 101

Power mapping is simply a way to identify who has power in the community, and to figure out what will move those individuals or institutions to do whatever it is you want them to do.
Published: May 17, 2023

Power mapping is simply a way to identify who has power in the community, and to figure out what will move those individuals or institutions to do whatever it is you want them to do. Creating a power map will help you answer these important questions:

  • Who are some key potential allies in your community—individuals and organizations who are likely to be on your side and who have the ability to influence others?
  • Who might oppose your plan, and who is in the middle who could be brought over to your side
  • What are effective ways to communicate with your community?

10 Steps to Community Power Mapping

  1. Be clear about the goals of your campaign.
  2. Figure out who is the key decision-maker or person/institution you want to influence to achieve that goal (there can be more than one).
  3. Research your target’s personal and professional connections.
  4. Brainstorm with your Community Connections Committee to determine which individuals or groups in your community are affected by the issue and could influence your target. Think broadly of all possible links to the target. These can include work, political, family, religious, and neighborhood ties. Anyone who can exert influence on this individual should be mapped.
  5. Start thinking about who these individuals or groups are connected to.
  6. Draw a grid on chart paper, with a horizontal line bisected by a vertical line. Write With Us on the left of the horizontal line, and Against Us on the right. Write Decision-Maker/Target at the top of the vertical line, and No Influence at the bottom. Depending on where the target lands in terms of being “with us” or “against us,” write his or her name somewhere along the top—toward the left if he or she is “with us” and toward the right if he or she is “against us.” If you really aren’t sure, put the name in the middle.
  7. Assess the influence each individual or organization on your brainstorm list has on the target, and place them on the appropriate place on the grid. Ask: Are they with us or against us? Do they have a lot of influence (upper half) or less influence (lower half)?
  8. Some of these individuals and institutions connect not only to your target but to each other. Draw lines to indicate who has something in common.
  9. Prioritize your list. Draw circles around the individuals or groups you most want to direct your efforts towards—probably the names on the upper left quadrant (the ones who are most With Us and who have the Most Influence)
  10. Now that you’ve made your Community Power Map, determine the next steps based on the specific campaign you are working on. This could include building support from influential allies or neutralizing groups who oppose you.

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