Finding folks who will offer up verbal support for your organization’s causes can be a difficult enough task. But translating that support into effective action is an even greater level of struggle, one that is necessary to create meaningful, lasting change based around the principles of your cause.

While there is no easy way to gain commitment from others, there are some steps you can take to help increase your chances of success. You can think of these as the four C’s of mobilizing commitment: connection, context, commitment, and catapult. Let’s take a look at each one:

Connect: Making the Ask

One of the first and most common points of failure for seeking a commitment is taking that initial leap of asking for help. It’s easy to overthink or to worry that you’ll annoy someone. Even worse, both outcomes of asking for a commitment to action can feel overwhelming. If someone says no, you might feel the sting of having your request rejected; if someone says yes, you might feel added pressure on your own commitments.

If you’re dealing with someone who is already involved in your organization or who has expressed a connection to your cause, remember that you two already have a shared commitment to putting your organization’s values into action. With that in mind, you can work past any fear or hesitation at asking for more. Start by clearly introducing yourself and laying out precisely what you’re asking them to do.

Context: Helping Them Understand

Another bad habit that’s easy to fall into is obfuscating your language in an attempt to make it feel easier for individuals to commit. This should be avoided at all costs. Don’t downplay the amount of work that will be involved for specific asks, as this can mislead your allies and make them frustrated down the road when they realize how much work the commitment actually involves.

Instead, after making the initial connection, you should provide clear, concise background information about the specific commitment you’re asking for. Let the other party know exactly what will be expected of them, why the work you’re requesting is meaningful and necessary, and the exact ways in which you believe they can help achieve your goals. That way they can make a fully informed decision about whether to commit or not, which will serve both of you better in the end than half-informed choices that lead to unfinished work or negative emotions.

Commitment: Recognizing Hesitation

It may seem silly to list “commitment” as one of the steps of seeking commitment, but this is actually the most vital part. Once you’ve made your request and offered context, you want to get a direct “yes” or “no” response. And depending on that response, you may want to seek additional information. 

If the individual says no, ask if they’re willing to offer details on why they’re turning you down, and be sure to provide your contact information so they can get in touch if they change their mind. If they give a noncommittal answer, ask if there’s more info you can provide or if you can follow up at a later date. And if they give an enthusiastic “yes,” you should still take the time to confirm the specifics about any dates, places, or times tied to the commitment.

Catapult: Supporting Individual Action

The final of the four C’s might feel a little out of place, but make no mistake: “Catapult” is the perfect verb for what you’ll be doing if you successfully build on an individual’s commitment to action. Remember that effective action is not only about one-time results, but also about contributing to the growth of individuals and developing leadership.

For your purposes, this means building off of commitment to action and making the person who has committed feel supported and able to pursue more (and more meaningful) work as a result. This step can be as simple as asking if they’re able to get friends to commit as well, or giving them more responsibilities if they express a desire to take them on. It also means following up after the commitment has been fulfilled, both to thank them for participating and to provide details on the results that their participation helped achieve. 

Even when people openly and vocally support the same values as your organization, asking them to commit to action can be stressful. However, if you use the four C’s as a guideline, you’ll be able to better recognize those who are truly ready to offer a deeper commitment to action, which will in turn lead to more effective results and long-term growth for your organization.

Looking for more tips on organizing, improving your leadership skills, and helping to create effective action? Consider signing up for a Wild workshop today to gain more insight into mobilizing shared commitment.