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...
1. Engaging members to take an advocacy action.
2. Managing a member knowledge base and,
3. Educating members on policy issues.
Alliance for Girls (AFG) is an association of girl-serving organizations and leaders who provide a strong voice for girls across the San Francisco Bay Area. They have more than 60 member organizations that collectively serve over 90,000 girls.
Most people do not like to consider themselves political advocates. The word “politics” evokes power, the influence of others and exerting control. As we all know, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” And for many nonprofit executives I talk to, they don’t want to get caught in that crossfire. However, trying to avoid politics is like trying to avoid the need for fundraising. No one wants to admit they have to do it—but the hidden truth is that they do if they want to fulfill their mission, purpose, and bring change that helps their communities evolve for the better.
Do your various technology platforms 'Talk' to each other? Are you able to get a bird's eye view of the success of your grassroots campaigns, or are those valuable civic engagement insights getting lost in spreadsheets that have been exported from separate systems? If that is you, then you know you are losing not just the knowledge of who your best advocates are, but you are wasting valuable time, energy and resources on duplicated actions. That's the simple truth and what we all strive to avoid.
Getting members to increase their level of civic engagement is for their own good. The challenge for the professional association, advocacy group, or Chamber of Commerce is how do you get individuals to engage in a world where they are constantly inundated with those trying to capture their attention. The old proverb that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink has never been more true than today. That horse will not drink until it believes it is thirsty, and so that requires good old fashioned persuasion.
Any time you want to persuade an individual member to engage in an advocacy action, whether that is to vote, comment, email, or call their representatives about specific pending legislation, every extra step that they need to take can dramatically reduce the likelihood that they will take that action. We all live busy lives and are constantly inundated by requests and information. As an organization trying to mobilize your members for grassroots lobbying, you can't afford to have any roadblocks to civic engagement.
When I first founded Votility, I envisioned creating a platform that individuals could use to create grassroots lobbying and advocacy campaigns. By bringing the voice of the voter to the elected officials who serve them, we all become more civically engaged and help to build our respective communities.
Government relations and grassroots advocacy is often seen as a cost center and resource drain more than it is used as a value-add for membership in a professional trade association, industry group, or a Chamber of Commerce. Unless your organization's single mission is advocacy, government relations and issue management is just one of the legs of the stool for you.