Following are the seven basic steps to carrying out a Democracy’s Path Forward Campaign in your community. Integrate these steps into community conversations you are already having, or start fresh.


Resources to help you will be available here soon.


Step 1:

Raise Questions

In this first step, we want to hear questions from as many people as possible - from all walks of life - in response to this prompt: What is your question about the future of democracy in America?  


Action Items for Organizers


Individuals and organizations that will be working together to have conversations on the most common questions on people's hearts and minds can launch their campaigns very simply:


  • Choose a variety of ways to invite people in your community to donate their questions: on your social media sites, through your email lists, during existing meetings, signs posted in common gathering areas, etc.

  • Determine ways that people can share their questions: post to the DPF website, send to a designated email address, post on social media, call a contact person, write on a wall in your lobby, write on flip charts during an event, etc.

  • Set up an Excel file or other type of document to store any questions you receive directly (those not donated directly to the DPF website).

  • Invite people in your community to donate their questions.

Step 2:

Explore Questions

In this step, you will gather community members together to explore all questions donated from your community, organize them by themes and build shared understanding of them through each participant's personal experiences related to the questions.  


Action Items for Organizers


  • Organize one or more events to explore the questions. Set a date, time and location, and invite a diverse group of participants.

  • Prepare question cards - one question per card - that can be used in the event to sort each question into groups of similar questions by themes and sub-themes.

  • Provide opportunities for participants to explore each set of questions, sharing how they each understand the questions and their own experiences that relate to them.

  • Have each group refine each set of questions by theme to arrive at a few powerful questions for each theme. 

  • Invite participants to share and come to agreement on the powerful questions that they want to explore further in this process.

  • Submit refined set of powerful questions to DPF for inclusion in the national conversation.


Step 3:

Learn Together

In this step, participants will begin exploring their selected set of powerful questions in greater depth. They will continue connecting with the questions and each other by considering each other's related experiences, and they will expand their understanding by exploring what scholars and others with professional expertise on each topic have to say.


Action Items for Organizers


  • Organize a series of small group discussions with diverse participants in each. 


  • Identify discussion group facilitators, and equip them with the tools they need to facilitate these conversations. Tools should include ways to build empathy among group participants and to integrate scholarly and other information into the conversation.


  • Plan how you will capture highlights and results of these conversations. You may wish to audio record all conversations with participants' permission, or you may wish to simply capture key points and decisions on flip charts. Choose the method(s) that will be most helpful for sharing results with your community and with the national DPF conversation. 


Step 4:

Imagine Solutions

Based on the conversations and shared understanding of the questions in step 3, participants will identify problems that need to be resolved and imagine an array of possible solutions.


Action Items for Organizers


  • Continue with existing discussion groups, setting new meeting dates, times and locations as needed.


  • Facilitate discussion first to reach agreement on one or more problem statements and second to brainstorm an array of possible solutions for each identified problem.


Step 5:

Select Solutions

This step involves narrowing the list of possible solutions to a set of solutions that is supported by all local discussion groups. The agreed-upon list may be used as a framework for local action (your action plan) and should be submitted to DPF for possible integration into a national action agenda.


Action Items for Organizers


  • Organize a joint meeting of all existing discussion groups in your community. Set meeting date, time and location, and notify/invite all discussion groups and the greater community.


  • Invite each group to share what they have learned so far, the problem statements they developed, and the list of possible solutions that they brainstormed for each problem statement.


  • Facilitate a process to generate a set of agreed-upon solutions for local action and to be submitted to DPF for possible integration into a national action agenda. Including a set of decision-making criteria in your preferred process is recommended.


  • Submit framework for action (initial action plan) to DPF.



Step 6:

Take Action

This step makes your action plan actionable. You will review the list of preferred solutions and determine who will be responsible for making them happen. Many different people and organizations may need to be involved in carrying out the solutions. Ideally, this array of possible local action leaders have been involved in the process from the beginning.


Action Items for Organizers


  • Shop local action agenda with individuals and/or organizations who could take a leadership role on one or more solutions identified in step 5. This could be done in individual meetings, or it can be done in an organized event designed to match community members and formal leaders with action items, like a resource fair.


  • Once solution leaders have been identified, share the information with your greater community and let them know how they can be involved.


  • Share with DPF your updated action plan with local solution leaders identified, and identify need for solution leaders at the national level.



Step 7:

Track Success

This final step before solutions are put into action is about knowing what success looks like and determining how you will track and report progress toward success. It is also the final piece to add to your action plan.


Action Items for Organizers


  • Work with local solution leaders to define what success looks like, based on everything that has been discussed with the community up to this point.


  • Determine appropriate measures of success for each solution, including specific existing data to track and any new data that is possible to collect.


  • Agree to who will be responsible for gathering data and how and when it will be gathered and reported.


  • Determine how progress reports will be shared with the community, including how often you will share these updates.


  • Finalize your action plan with above decisions, and submit to DPF.

  • Celebrate, and take action!