Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I finally found it!: Government Relations Assessment Tool

Several years ago, the ASAE GR Council put together a really fabulous assessment tool for any government relations program. Problem is, it got lost on my hard drive. And I mean really lost. I've been meaning to share this with folks FOREVER and I finally found it! Yippee!

This really useful piece has several "self-assessment" questions that are relevant to any lobbying entity or advocacy campaign. Highlights include:

  • Does the association have clearly stated goals and objectives in place for the government relations program? How often are the goals and objectives reviewed and is this procedure aligned with the association’s strategic planning or budgeting processes?
  • Do you have a method of tracking grassroots actions taken by your members? Can you name 100 members who have taken action in the past six months? 50 members? (can vary the number depending on size of membership) In the past month?
  • How is the relationship between the national/state/local chapter organizations? Is information shared equally? Are advocacy efforts coordinated between the units?
So, if you'd like to share in the joy, click here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Want input on how citizens communicate with Congress?

Check out the Congressional Management Foundation's report on improving communications with elected officials. They've extended their deadline to July 28th (so ignore the fact that it says "comment by July 18th.") Any grassroots advocacy efforts that struggles with getting messages that have an impact through to your elected officials, this is the perfect opportunity to do something about it! At a minimum, it should be a very cathartic experience.

Also, I read on the Sunlight Foundation's blog about a really interesting visual representation of campaign contributions based on information from Those who put it together created a depiction of a notice board, such as one might see in a local store or community center, with notes on each "flyer" about the contributions from that sector of the economy.

I think this bulletin board really shows the bewildering array of interests that contribute to election campaigns. Sure, that's not necessarily immediately comforting -- but imagine if you were a legislator who was constantly bombarded with messages from all these folks. Seems to me that instead of having industries that are easily able to "buy and sell" legislators, you might be stuck instead with an unfocused and pretty confusing mess.

Hmmm, sounds like our electoral process.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's what you say...

... not how you say it. Recent reports from the Congressional Management Foundation, Public Affairs Council (Grassroots Benchmarking Report) and others have many in the Association community a little "freaked-out" about the effectiveness of their grassroots advocacy communications with elected officials.

Why? Many groups spent thousands of dollars on advocacy tools designed specifically to send hundreds of form e-mails to an elected official's e-mail in-box. Turns out, these form communications are not really all that influential. These recent reports (and years of anecdotal evidence) suggest that personalized communications are the way to capture the hearts and minds of any legislative audience.

I hate to say "I told you so", but if you've attended any one of my advocacy training sessions or read anything on my site, including:

I, well, told you so!

The important point here is that this isn't to say that e-mail in and of itself is ineffective. It can be a terrific means of getting a message across -- but only so long as the content is personal, relevant and timely. Moreover, even form communications can have their place as a means of learning more about the advocate network. People who are willing to send a form e-mail are great targets for personalized follow-up communications.

Association and grassroots leaders should be looking at what seems like "dire news" about their past efforts in this context, and I have three suggestions for anyone seeking to be more effective in this brave new world:

  • Use what we've learned about form communications to inform future efforts. Consider ways to offer all advocates the opportunity to be involved at whatever level they deem appropriate
  • Identify and motivate advocates who have been willing to send form communications in the past. Train them in more personalized (and more powerful) advocacy techniques
  • Establish metrics (and expectations) that focus less on the quantity of communications and more on the quality

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rock the Vote!

Check out our new "Rock the Vote" link from the Advocacy Associates home page. It's the new, hip place in town to get more information on the elections and register to vote!

You can install a similar button on your site -- just go to the Rock the Vote website for more information.