Advocacy doesn't happen all the time, and when it comes to grassroots advocacy, the more educated your members, stakeholders, volunteers, and other constituents are, the more likely you are going to be able to motivate them to take action. The more grassroots advocacy action you can generate, the more likely you are going to be able to get lawmakers attention.
How fast can you ready to mobilize your members and stakeholders?
I don't think anyone who is involved in government relations and advocacy is surprised by this legislative calendar graphic from TrackBill that shows that between now and the end of April is the busiest time of the year for most state sessions.
Alliance for Girls Awarded Free Votility License at #ASAE14
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.
On my drive home last week, I listened to an NPR story describing Glenn Beck and his “a live, interactive ‘night of action’ against the Common Core State Standards.” Glenn Beck has argued vocally against the educational standards that are now in place in 43 states.
Efforts to inspire a grassroots campaign
The story goes on to describe Beck’s mission to inspire a movement by creating a documentary movie on the subject, called "We Will Not Conform." Reporting from a number of theaters where the documentary was aired, the commentator describes how Beck plays on emotion as he tells parents, teachers, administrators and other movie viewers that our nation's most valuable asset, our children, are at risk. He appeals to logic, discussing how the Core supports corporate interests with several panels of experts and activists.
Every night, after the movie ends, Beck asks viewers to stand up and discuss their thoughts and ideas. If this is Beck’s plan to start a movement—to educate, engage, and mobilize individuals—he is missing a big piece of the puzzle.
Grassroots advocacy is key to your fundraising strategy
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.
How the National Resources Council of Maine Engages Members to Become Grassroots Advocates
Since today is Earth Day, I was reminded of a recent presentation I attended by Lisa Pohlmann, the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, regarding what it takes for an advocacy organization to engage communities and get citizens active and involved.
As a lifelong Mainer, protecting our natural resources is very important to me. So I was especially interested in hearing about how NRCM managed such a tremendous and crucial task. What I learned is that many of the same traits, strategies, and tactics they have can be applied to other organizations.
Engaging your members at the right times in the process is critical to your ongoing success
The legislative process can at times seem long, convoluted and rife with movement, delays and highly publicized maneuvering. However, all bills introduced into the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives follow the same basic path. A working knowledge of the process will allow your organization to organize and execute initiatives that will engage and inspire your members to get involved when you need them to in order to affect the result.
As always, the further upstream your advocates can get involved in shaping the language of a bill or influencing changes along the way, the happier they (and you) are apt to be with the result.
We’ve identified the 14 crucial steps in the legislative process that provide opportunities for grassroots advocacy organizations to influence outcomes. This post is part one of a three-part series examining the 14 steps of the legislative process in detail and providing an overview of the best avenues for member engagement.
The legislative process: Steps 1-5
Anyone may draft a bill. (In recent years, organizations have increasingly taken the lead in crafting the language of bills introduced in the House and Senate.) However, the formal introduction of legislation can only be done by members of Congress. By doing so, they become the bill’s sponsor(s). A piece of legislation (a bill, joint resolution, concurrent resolution or simple resolution) enters the legislative process when it is assigned a number — H.R. signifies a bill introduced in the House of representatives and S. signifies a bill introduced in the Senate. The bill is then printed by the Government Printing Office, then…
2. Referred to a committee
Almost all bills are referred to a standing committee in the legislative body where the bill originated. When the bill reaches a committee, it is…
Which 20% of your membership is doing 80% of your grassroots advocacy work?
Many of us are familiar with the 80/20 Rule which states that, for many situations, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Here are some popular applications of the 80/20 rule as it relates to businesses:
• 80% of a company's profits come from 20% of its customers
• 80% of a company's complaints come from 20% of its customers
• 80% of a company's profits come from 20% of its staff’s time
• 80% of a company's sales come from 20% of its products
• 80% of a company's sales are made by 20% of its sales staff
The same principals apply to your membership organization and grassroots advocacy campaigns. The key to successful results is 2 fold. First, you have to know which 20% of your members are your best advocates. Second, you have to make sure that you focus your grassroots advocacy campaign planning and launch to focus on that 20%. Instead of maxing out staff resources to cover every possible member and channel, you can focus on the 120% that will take care of the remaining 80%.