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"Kitchen Cabinets" Build Strong Support in Advocacy Campaigns

Our last blog described Evangelists as the highest and most engaged rung on the Community Engagement Ladder. Forming a Kitchen Cabinet is one of the most effective ways to develop this highest level of dedicated supporters.

First used by President Andrew Jackson in the early 1800’s and originally thought of in derogatory terms, Kitchen Cabinets have evolved into valuable tools for federal/state/local leaders and candidates throughout the centuries. This group of trusted advisors includes people with varying areas of expertise who act as informal sounding boards on a number of issues.

Kitchen Cabinets Build Support

In advocacy campaigns, Cabinet members are your strongest supporters, stepping up to testify at public hearings, communicating directly with decision makers, and recruiting others to join the effort. They are also valuable third-party validators in media interviews.

Kitchen Cabinets are particularly useful in real estate development projects. Members share insights from their communities, provide feedback on development plans and give guidance on your outreach efforts. They can act as early warning signals when issues begin to surface.

Care & Feeding of a Kitchen Cabinet

  • Keep the group relatively small - with around 10 to 15 members – to maintain an informal and cohesive feel.

  • Include people from the various stakeholder groups impacted by your issue and invite each personally.

  • Maintain communications to keep everyone engaged, particularly during the ebbs and flows of a long-term development project. Unless things are evolving quickly, in-person or virtual meetings should be limited to quarterly or semi-annually. Personal phone calls and emails will help fill the void.

  • Consider Cabinet members as trusted advisors and treat them that way. Share new developments as they occur, preview your plans immediately prior to or after large community meetings and take their comments seriously.

Meeting graphic from


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