Civic Engagement and Advocacy Blog

Brent Willis

People want to be heard other then just voting every 2,4, or 6 years. Groups that engage them and measure it are positioned to win the public policy battles of the future. My vision and mission is to revive the civic engagement of the American citizen in government relations; at the federal, state, and local level.
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Recent Posts

Why Grassroots Advocacy?     Advocacy = Donations

Posted by Brent Willis on 2/3/16 7:14 AM

Is your organization looking for more revenue?  Which one isn't, right?  

The simple answer is, if you create more value, the organization will realize more donations.  Sounds straight forward, doesn't it. Well, it can be...


Advocacy is about Action, which means it's really about Marketing!

Posted by Brent Willis on 12/7/15 12:40 PM

How can your members know your organization is involved in advocacy and what advocacy actions to take unless you tell them?  The answer is, they can't.  That's why an advocacy marketing plan is critical to your grassroots advocacy efforts BEFORE you launch your advocacy campaigns.


Critical Do's and Dont's of Advocacy Action Alerts

Posted by Brent Willis on 11/16/15 3:45 PM

 So, you want to get your members engaged in advocacy, do you?  Well, there are some tricks of the trade you need to be aware of so your efforts don’t go in vain.

Being in the advocacy software business, we have customers, often donor / member-based organizations, who use our software to engage their members in grassroots advocacy—meaning, they want them to take some sort of action to help further a common cause. We have daily conversations about ‘best practices’ with the staff and leadership of these groups and the long and short of the story is: some get it and some don’t.

For those who have ears to hear, here are some Do's that will better ensure your advocacy success.


Votility / iMIS Integration Now Available

Posted by Brent Willis on 10/14/15 9:16 AM

Votility Launches iMIS Bridge for Grassroots Advocacy Efficiency and Effectiveness.

Votility, Inc. and technology solutions partner, Association Technology Solutions (ATS), today announce the availability of the iMIS Bridge connecting the Votility Advocacy Platform and all versions of iMIS Association Management Software from 10.6 through 20.2. The bridge maximizes staff efficiency and allows for member advocacy action enabled by Votility to be tracked and analyzed in iMIS.


How to Evaluate an Advocacy Platform – Part Two

Posted by Brent Willis on 9/22/15 1:01 PM

Specific technology for your business model is a love/hate thing.

You love it when it’s all installed and working correctly, but could certainly dislike the process of getting to that point. It often means more demos, more research, hours of contemplating and analyzing, often with multiple team members whose schedules don't match up with yours, etc., etc… It can be frustrating and, if you're the point person making the decision, there can be a lot at stake, too. Even though the process can be all of these things, spending time asking the right questions and reaching the best conclusion for your organization is worth the time expended.

If you conduct advocacy and need your members to get involved in order to affect public policy, how can you effectively evaluate a technical solution?

Here are some broad points many will already understand:

  • It starts with the end in mind. What's the organizational goal for this particular piece of software? What are we trying to accomplish? What are our essential requirements versus nice-to-haves?
  • Does this need to be integrated with our primary organizational software or can the advocacy platform stand alone?
  • Who are the industry players in this area? Research their sites for features and benefits.
  • Set up demos and analyze the features and functions, and map what each vendor offers to your requirements.

Evaluating Advocacy Software, an Admittedly Biased View – Part One

Posted by Brent Willis on 9/4/15 11:26 AM

Technology... LOVE it or HATE it...

It is what it is—critically important.

So, the question is, "How do I evaluate the many options on the market and not make a critical mistake?" Well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that mistakes aren't usually revealed until after the license agreement is signed. The good news is that we're going to try and help you with some questions to ask prior to that agreement being signed, so everyone's on the same page. But, how to decide among different software platforms, especially if you don't have a technology-minded staff? We're going to try and help.

Before we get to the questions you should be asking, we need to examine the structure of your organization and how you make purchasing decisions. This often determines how you're buying in the first place.


From Zero to 60 with Grassroots Activism: Arkansas Learns Case Study

Posted by Brent Willis on 7/8/15 12:32 PM

The Financial Challenge of Grassroots Activism

It has been said that “We can always live on less when we have more to live for.” Nowhere is this sentiment tested more than nonprofit work (and especially grassroots activism). While there is no doubt that our passion and utilizing our base of volunteers can fuel an impressive amount of progress, the “living on less” part can turn from a practical reality into a stiffling momemtum killer.

Yes, nonprofits are often asked to do more with less. And arguably, they need to be smarter with their decision making than for-profit organizations, simply because they often don’t have the resources to pay for their mistakes.

With the stakes so high, many nonprofits are looking to work leaner and smarter than ever before. And many are counting on technology to help them succeed.


Why is advocacy so important for businesses?

Posted by Brent Willis on 6/16/15 8:30 AM

Many businesses face operational challenges due to legislation and regualtion on the local, state and national levels.   These are policies that affect their buisness operations, for sure BUT, the can also affect their employees and their families, the heart of their businesses.  At some level, we all know legislative issues are important to businesses who are looking to grow.... and what business isn’t?

But it is typically not until a regulation, law, or ordinance impedes that growth that most business owners start to see the need for grassroots advocacy and its importance to their bottom line.


Civic Engagement Best Practices for Legislative Action Centers

Posted by Brent Willis on 5/29/15 7:00 AM

Top 3 challenges we hear from government affairs professionals: 

1.  Engaging members to take an advocacy action.

2.  Managing a member knowledge base and,

3.  Educating members on policy issues. 


Advocacy Software Update: SSO Integration with BillTrack50

Posted by Brent Willis on 3/18/15 3:02 PM

Save Time with Legislative Tracking Software

Hours can make the difference in a grassroots advocacy campaign. Knowing when you need to activate a grassroots advocacy campaign requires constant monitoring.