Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
- Read the member’s bio: This takes at most 10 minutes. Understanding where they come from and how they got into politics can provide great opportunities for you to personally connect with the office. Say, for instance, you are a small business owner and as you’re reading your Senator’s bio, you find out that she worked for a small business for years before running for the Senate. That would be a great way to connect with the office early on. The more connecting lines you can draw, the more likely you are to be remembered.
- Know their issues: Now that you’ve read the bio, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Nearly all Members of Congress have either an “Issues” or “Legislation” tab or something similar where you can find out their priorities. I know you are going to find this shocking, but most Members of Congress come to the Hill because they are truly passionate about an issue or two and they really want to make a difference with that issue. They’re not all greedy, corrupt, power hungry Frank Underwood clones (at least not when they first get to DC). You may just not always agree with the issues they’re passionate about. If you can find ways to frame your asks around key issues they care about, they are far more likely to follow through and act on your issue. Get creative here. For instance, say one of their priority issues is education but you’re advocating for legislation to help caregivers for people with long-term disabilities. Maybe you could demonstrate how improving caregiving allows people with disabilities to attain higher levels of education. That’s just an example, but if on the surface your issue seems unrelated to their priorities, think outside the box a little and I’ll bet you can come up with some connection.
- Figure out which committees they’re on: Determining the committees and subcommittees a Member serves on can give you insight into some other issues their office focuses on. If they serve as a chair or a ranking member on a committee, they likely have staff dedicated solely to that committee’s work. If they are on a committee under which your issue falls, the staff is likely to be better informed about your issue, which in turn will better help you make your case. If they’re not on a committee that relates to your issue, that by no means makes a meeting pointless, but it’s good to figure that information out ahead of time so you’re not blindsided if they say something like they work on your issue all the time in their committee.
- Check out bills and votes: As I mentioned earlier, one of the complaints we hear most often is that a Member of Congress will have already co-sponsored the bill you are asking them to co-sponsor. If you are advocating for a specific piece of legislation, make sure you know who the co-sponsors are, what exactly the bill does, and why you support it. Congress.gov provides useful brief bill summaries so you don’t have to go in and read the full text of the legislation. If your Member of Congress has co-sponsored your bill, you can still go in and thank him or her. This will again show the office that you are well-informed and will also demonstrate that you care about and are following the actions the Member is taking on your issue.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
Host Craig Price calls the Advocacy Hotline to talk to the guru, Stephanie Vance, about ways to volunteer for political campaigns.
This week’s question: How to get involved in a campaign and what exactly do campaign volunteers do?
If you have questions about politics, advocacy or influence, be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit Stephanie's website http://www.advocacyguru.com to learn more about how you can be a more effective advocate or how you build long-term relationships with legislators and their staffs.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Friday, November 07, 2014
The endless campaigning, the repetitive political ads, the persistent news coverage, the crazy whirlwind that is election night and then, just like that, it’s all over. The 114th Congress will convene in January, and when your advocates come to DC for your 2015 Capitol Hill Day some of them will have brand new Members of Congress to start building relationships with. Be sure to focus some of your attention on these new legislators as you develop strategies and outline the logistics for next year’s event. Here are some of the considerations you should keep in mind:
- Keep your advocates informed about congressional districts that will have a new incumbent come January. Guide them to the resources that will help them research their newly elected officials, such as OpenSecrets.org to look at campaign contributions. Show them how to look up a legislator’s record if they were once a Governor or member of the State Legislature. If you have any advocates who have good relationships with a House member turned Senator, ask them to reach out to their connections to congratulate them.
- Incorporate relevant information about the new Congress into your advocate training. Whether you’re doing a pre-event webinar or phone call or an in-person training the day before your hill day, spend some time focusing on how your advocates can get to know their new legislators and what a great opportunity this is to indoctrinate them with your issues.
- Early on, some new Members of Congress won’t have an office yet and will have a temporary space in the basement of their building, so if you have an early hill day make sure you are aware of these location changes. Some returning Members will also have room changes as some of the legislators who have been around for a while and have started to develop some seniority will eventually “upgrade” to a better office. Similarly, while new Members usually take on the phone number of the old Member, you might need to call the congressional switch board to connect with some of these offices where the phone number might change. You might consider subscribing to a service like KnowWho which keeps track of these changes.