Nonprofits and associations have powerful potential to change city, state, and even federal policies through the collective voice of their supporters and nonprofit advocacy. Often, policy or nonprofit advocacy comes hand-in-hand with an association’s strategic plan.
Here are 10 things an association should do to prepare for the state legislative session:
- Craft an advocacy mission statement. A nonprofit advocacy mission statement should reflect the 3 P’s: passion, purpose, and process. Passion, as in why your organization is advocating and why it matters; purpose, the actual policy objectives your organization is seeking to achieve or precisely what your efforts are influencing, and finally process, how your association plans on reaching its advocacy goals.
- Create a strategic communications plan. Maybe your association has a communications director, or maybe your association consists of a one-man staff. Either way, how will you be communicating with your members during legislative session?
- Designate a staff member with advocacy responsibilities if your association does not have a policy specialist or government affairs staff member. This tip will most likely to pertain to organizations with smaller staff sizes.
- Make sure your digital presence reflects your advocacy mission statement and your upcoming initiatives. Make sure your association has relevant social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, that are updated regularly.
- Consider purchasing advocacy software to make your life easier during one of the busiest times of the year! Software allows you to send targeted communications to your members, asking them to take action and contact important decision makers.
- Consider adding a "Join Our Network" button to your homepage so new supporters can sign up and be a part of your action network. Growing your base is important if your policy agenda relies on outside grassroots support.
- Create a press list of local journalists you identify who typically cover topics that relate to your organization. This way, during the legislative session, you have appropriate reporters to reach out to and share your stories.
- Put together a legislative time line that is specific to your organization. If you know which bills your association will be working on, figure out when the bill will be discussed in committee, on the floor, so on and so forth.
- Get involved in your community: speak about the issues your association or nonprofit will be advocating for at local events, like town hall meetings, or similar events.
- Budget your advocacy expenditures. Depending on your organization’s IRS classification, like 501c3, c4, c6, etc., different legal parameters exist regarding how much money you can spend on advocacy. Be sure to document your advocacy expenditures accordingly.
If you haven’t already seen our Webinar on this topic, you can watch it here: