Associations have powerful potential to change local, state, and even federal policies through the collective voice of their supporters and nonprofit advocacy. An association's public policy strategy and grassroots advocacy should go hand-in-hand
Here are 10 things an association should do to prepare for the state legislative session:
- Craft an advocacy mission statement.
An association's 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. Process, how does your association plan 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-person 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
Make sure your organization has relevant social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, that are updated regularly. Utilize video and other visuals to keep your supporters engaged and educated as session draws near. Update your website to reflect all of the policy goals you have for this session.
- Consider purchasing advocacy software
Make your life easier during one of the busiest times of the year. Advocacy software allows you to send targeted messages from your supporters to their elected officials — increase your associations engagement rates and strengthen your public policy efforts.
- Make efforts to grow your network
Make sure new supporters have a way to sign up and join your action network. Growing your base is important to ensuring the success of your policy efforts during session.
- Put together a legislative timeline.
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. A legislative timeline ensures that your staff will prepared when policy issues suddenly appear for discussion.
- Get involved in your community.
Share your organization's political advocacy issues at local events, like town hall meetings and community events. Spreading the word about your organization's advocacy initiatives may result in greater public support for your policy goals as state legislative session is active.
- Set up a lobby day
A Lobby day is an essential part of an association's advocacy efforts — giving your member's face-to-face time along with the use of advocacy software can really strengthen an associations grassroots efforts. Read more about setting up your lobby day here.
- 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.