Civic Engagement and Advocacy Blog

Turning Public Policy Advocacy into Membership Gains

Posted by Brent Willis on 10/16/14 1:57 PM

The Chamber of Commerce Executives of Missouri (CCEM) asked me to speak at the fall conference on the subject of advocacy. Naturally, I was flattered since I don't consider myself to be either a public speaker or an expert. So, I gathered a combination of Chamber executives who do advocacy now as well consultants who help organizations form and execute public policy and communication strategies to help discuss this topic.  It’s a topic that clearly concerns the chamber executive and that concern can lead to fear and fear can lead to inaction.


Issue Advocacy Tips for Younger Chamber of Commerce Members

Posted by Brent Willis on 5/7/13 6:22 AM

What younger citizens can bring to your Chamber of Commerce, association or advocacy organization.

Obviously, they bring time! The younger the person, the more years they likely have ahead of them, and that means the more years they can be a dedicated, active member of your group. More often than not, your younger demographic has more free time and with the right member engagement strategy could be your most driven volunteer! 

Another consideration is capital. While in most cases younger people have less money on hand, and therefore less to donate even to the best causes, they have endless earning potential, and could become great donors and even patrons of your organization. The earlier they know about the benefits of your member organization, are engaged and offering their input through a program that actually requests and utilizes their input transparently, the more likely they are to stick around in their earning years.  


7 Membership Marketing Ideas for Chambers of Commerce

Posted by Brent Willis on 4/30/13 12:13 PM

Plus Online Membership Management Best Practices

Attracting new members to your organization can be achieved in a variety of ways. While methods vary, all efforts to grow your membership need to be based on a few simple concepts, namely:


5 Reasons Online Advocacy Software is Not a Good Fit

Posted by Brent Willis on 3/13/13 1:02 PM

It might seem counterintuitive for a company that designs and builds online advocacy software to write about all the reasons our software won't work for a business or an organization.


How to Rally Your Organization After the State of the Union Speech

Posted by Brent Willis on 3/1/13 10:58 AM

With only 33.3 million viewers, this year's State of the Union speech was the lowest watched since 2000.

There are a lot of reasons for this that range from voter fatigue to absolute disgust with the current administration, congress, and the political process in general. Indeed, the attitudes and proclivities of the average American voter present some major challenges for organizations seeking to increase their member engagement this year. Still, these challenges are not insurmountable and with some careful consideration and planning they can be overcome.

Now, if your organization has any interest in the 2nd Amendment and gun rights, you can stop reading this article right now. Your base and anyone who would be interested in your message is already fired up following the speech. Indeed, the NRA and firearms manufacturers are so hot right now that the only thing they need to do to mobilize their membership is say "Hi, please call..."

For everyone else, it is going to be a little trickier and will require a little more finesse to increase member engagement this year.


Top 5 Online Advocacy Tools

Posted by Brent Willis on 2/26/13 1:04 PM

Before taking a closer look at some of the best online advocacy tools currently available for advocacy purposes, let's take a closer look at just why these tools are of such importance for advocacy groups, trade associations, chambers of commerce and a whole range of other organizations.

Essentially, the key factors of successful advocacy are recruitment, education/ information on, retention of, and two-way communication with members. Invariably based on the formation of relationships - whether through inter-personal friendships or branded messages - these factors combine to fuel participation in the attempt to influence political/ policy decisions, fundraising efforts, volunteering campaigns and voting.

Employing online advocacy tools like social media networks; petition sites; RSS feeds, instant messaging and, of course, specifically designed advocacy software enables educated male or female members of the public to rally adequate support in order to influence local, state and even world-wide decisions/ policies.


New Technology Makes Contacting Your Congressman a Breeze!

Posted by Brent Willis on 2/7/13 8:30 AM

Throughout history, American citizens have joined together in interest groups - from advocacy groups through chambers of commerce to trade unions - to make their views, needs and ideas known to their respective elected officials. Their missions were aided by American politics' formal structure, as well as the informal traditions, the combination of which provides fertile grounds for such groups.

Groups are encouraged to form and subsequently empowered to publicly address and act upon issues of concern - which may involve laying out their positions to members of Congress - by a combination of factors.


Purchasing Advocacy Software vs. Building an In-House Advocacy Tool

Posted by Brent Willis on 1/17/13 10:35 AM

When running an organization today, you have to not only focus on growing your bottom-line, but keep tabs on federal, state and local legislation that affects how your organization operates.



How to Choose an Advocacy Management Agency

Posted by Brent Willis on 12/27/12 7:30 AM

Organizations are often faced with ever-changing federal, state and local city/county legislation that affect their main purpose.

When such legislation arises, it's imperative that the organization educate its members about the pending laws so they can organize; to rebuke them before they are passed or to help push for their passage. But where do you turn when such a need arises?  If your advocacy software provider doesn’t have a Managed Services division, then you hire an advocacy management agency. They specialize in obtaining pertinent information, distributing it to members and effectively stopping legislation that will negatively impact the mission of the organization. Before you hire such an agency, here are some key questions that you should have answered before entering into a contract.