Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by Vbhotla
Jocelyn Bissonnette speaks at a NAFIS conference.
It’s been more than a year, but Lovable Lobbyist is back with a special Valentine’s Day Lovable Lobbyist edition!
With education reauthorization being worked on this year, we wanted to introduce you to one of the people that will be helping to make a difference in the lives of students across the country. Meet Jocelyn Bissonnette, the Director of Government Affairs with the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, a non-profit that works to ensure that students across the country get the education they deserve, particularly those from military families.
Do you have a personal connection to the nonprofit you work for?
Education has long been a passion of mine. I studied economics and political science in college, but my interest in federal education policy was piqued by a course on social mobility and social change and reinforced through my participation in a literacy-focused tutoring program. I spent a summer teaching middle school in Providence, RI and while that was an incredible experience, I realized that although I wanted to pursue my interests in education, teaching was not for me. I’m fortunate to work for an organization that advocates for and protects the interests of school districts.
What positive things Online Casino would you like people to know about lobbying and advocacy?
My organization lobbies on Impact Aid – an education program that reimburses school districts for the lost local tax revenue associated with the federal presence in their district (anything from military installations to Native American reservations to national parks). I see myself as an advocate: the voice of these school districts on Capitol Hill, protecting their interests and ensuring their voices are represented. NAFIS provides district-specific analysis and legislative expertise vital to the policy-making process. Our members are busy running school districts, and my organization exists to monitor congressional activities on their behalf.
What can people do to get involved in advocacy activities with Impact Aid schools?
NAFIS has a website (www.nafisdc.org) and a Facebook page where we post advocacy activities and action alerts. You can donate to the Federally Impacted Schools Educational Foundation, which provides workshops and training to school personnel. NAFIS also works with the Committee for Education Funding, a broad coalition of educational groups (www.cef.org).
What else makes you lovable outside of your regular work?
I love cooking, cheering on New England sports teams, and seeing shows at local theatres in DC and Northern Virginia. Because of my Armenian heritage, I also enjoy discussing Armenian history and culture.
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 by Brittany
Lobby days are a good way to connect with elected officials and their staff at their offices in Washington, D.C., or at the state capital. Although advocates are ultimately responsible for making those connections, a lot of planning and effort must be undertaken by the organization hosting the lobby day – as well as the advocates!
What are they?
For purposes of this manual, the term “lobby day” is used to refer to any effort to connect advocates with policymakers through meetings, either physically or virtually, on a given day or week. Some organizations might refer to these events as “advocacy days,” “fly-ins” or “Capitol Hill days.” Members of the legislative branch are usually the target audience for these events, although some organizations arrange meetings with regulators and other members of the executive branch, such as staff of the governor’s office.
Why is it useful?
Recent reports suggest that in-person meetings from constituents are one of the most effective ways to influence elected officials.
When should it be used?
Any organization with a core of committed advocates can benefit from coordinating a lobby day event, either individually or in concert with a coalition partner. Lobbying events are most successful, however, when the organization has a specific policy agenda and core ask.
Asking advocates to get involved
Asking advocates to participate in a lobby day effort Viagra generally involves more than simply sending out an action alert and hoping people respond, particularly for those situations where advocates will be investing their own time and money. Options for marketing the event include:
- Conference marketing materials, including brochures, mailers and web site information. Marketing materials should include links to online and hard copy registration materials
- Press releases about the event to industry publications
- Outreach through coalitions
- Articles / columns in the organization’s own publications
- Web 2.0 outreach techniques, such as setting up a Facebook or MySpace page for the event
Key points to consider in developing the materials:
- Outline the value of direct constituent communications in influencing the policymaking process. Advocates need to understand why their direct participation is critical to policy success.
- Be sure that advocates know what they are agreeing to do when registering for the event. Unless advocate leaders are very specific about what the event entails, some advocates may not understand that they will be meeting individually or in small groups with their policymakers.
- Ensure that the registration form captures all relevant information, including the address to be used for matching advocates with policymakers and cell phone numbers.
- Establish an early bird deadline that allows those scheduling the meetings enough time to initiate meeting requests and coordinate schedules.
For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Tap the power of your roots!
When the grassroots get all fired up, watch out! Most lobbyists would like to tap the power of grassroots advocates – but do you know what exactly qualifies as “grassroots”? And how do you report those activities on your LDA forms?
The official definition of grassroots lobbying is the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) definition: “a call to action to the public or segment of the public asking them to contact a designated official, state, federal, local on a specific item government action, specific legislation, or a nomination, etc.”
What activities are considered “grassroots”?
Grassroots lobbying is: “communications to the general public that refer to and reflect a view on the merits of a specific legislative proposal and a ‘call to action’ directly or indirectly encouraging legislative contact.” So, for example, if you’re XYZ Association, and you ask your members to write Representative Smith on H.R. 1234, that is grassroots lobbying.
Reporting grassroots lobbying
There are two different ways to report – you must make a designation. If you are filing under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) definitions, grassroots lobbying is not disclosed on your forms. Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) definition of lobbying the expenses of grassroots lobbying are combined with the total reportable expenditures. The key thing to remember is that whichever method you chose, you must use it consistently in your filing. Note also that registrants reporting lobbying income (i.e. lobbying firms, including lobbyists acting as sole proprietors) must use the LDA definition and reporting structure. Registrants reporting lobbying expenditures may elect to use the IRC or LDA.
Amy Showalter, at the Showalter Group, writes an excellent blog on keeping your advocates motivated and engaged.
Another great speaker on advocacy and citizen participation is Stephanie Vance, at Advocacy Associates.
Friday, October 29th, 2010 by Brittany
An excerpt from the Advocacy Handbook:
Depending upon the issue and the nature of the network, advocate leaders may occasionally find themselves needing to either encourage more people to actively participate in advocacy efforts or encourage more quality communications with the target audience. Outlined below are a few of the key barriers to participation, options for overcoming those barriers and ideas for recognizing advocates’ efforts.
Barriers to Participation
Advocates often cite one of the following reasons to explain why they might be unwilling or unable to participate in efforts to make policy change:
- Lack of time
- A feeling that their participation doesn’t matter
- A feeling that the organization should do the lobbying, not them
- Unsure what to do / intimidated
- Advocate fatigue / over-activation
- Lack of progress
- Disagreement over policy direction
- Quick and Easy Activities: Advocate leaders should look for ways to draw potential advocates in to the network through some quick and easy activities. These might include sending an e-mail to a legislator through an action alert site, signing a petition, responding to a poll or survey or sending a postcard. This might be viewed as the “crawl before walking” approach. Once advocates become familiar with and comfortable with these simple activities, advocate leaders can work to encourage these individuals to engage in more substantive and effective communication strategies.
- Cultivating the Active: It’s not the number of communications that have an impact on policy outcomes, it’s the quality. Hence, it may make sense for advocate leaders to focus more attention on the powerful 5 to 20 percent of the network willing and eager to take substantive action, without, of course, ignoring the rest of the network.
- Training: The following components of a training program will help address some of the more common barriers to participation: why their voice matters, role in the GR campaign, long-term focus, and how to advocate.
- Engaging Champions: Legislative or regulatory champions of an organization’s issues can help deliver the message to advocates that their voice matters. In some cases, advocates may be more apt to believe a legislator than an organization’s government relations staff. Advocate leaders should consider asking policy champions to speak at events or make public statements about the importance of citizen advocates to the policymaking process.
- Strategic Activation: Advocate fatigue can be managed, in part, by being as strategic and focused as possible when activating the network. Organizations that frequently issue high-priority action alerts, particularly when those alerts aren’t warranted, may find their advocates becoming immune to their requests – and unwilling to take action when truly needed.
- Change the Definition of Victory: In developing advocacy plans, advocate leaders should identify internal goals that can be achieved regardless of external events. These might include targets for numbers of advocates in the network or developing a pilot program for coordinating a few site visits during a recess. These aspects of the campaign may be more within the control of the organization than, for example, whether a bill moves forward to the hearing stage or not.
- Managing Set-backs: How an organization manages the inevitable set-backs associated with any advocacy effort can make or break their future success. Advocate leaders should look to be as up-front as possible about set-backs, while identifying future plans of action.
- Setting the Policy Agenda: Organizations that set their policy agenda in concert with the advocacy network will likely have fewer disagreements with members about policy direction than those that adopt a more hierarchical approach. Before asking advocates to communicate with policymakers on a critical issue, it is imperative to ascertain that most members of the network are in agreement on the overall message.
- Agreeing to Disagree: In some cases, organizations may need to take controversial positions that may be unpopular with some percentage of their members. Advocate leaders should identify these potential disagreements as soon as possible and be prepared to address questions about the decisions made by the organization.
The Advocacy Handbook, written by the “Advocacy Guru” Stephanie Vance, and its insight into helping your advocates shake off their anxieties will help your advocacy mission become a success. Click here for more information on the Advocacy Handbook.
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Brittany
An excerpt from the Advocacy Handbook.
What is Advocacy?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, advocacy is: “the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support.”
Under this definition, there are many types of advocacy, including:
Legal Advocacy: Arguing on behalf of a client in the legal environment
Child Advocacy: Making the case for children in a child-oriented venue, such as a school or in the context of child protective services
Patient Advocacy: Helping individuals navigate through the increasing complex medical arena and safeguarding their rights
Casework / Social Welfare Advocacy: Working with low-income or otherwise disadvantaged individuals to be sure they have the services they need
Corporate Advocacy: Efforts by corporations to promote a specific cause or idea for the benefit of the general public (also related to the idea of “Corporate Social Responsibility”)
In each of these circumstances, one person or a group of people pleads or argues in favor of a particular cause, idea, or individual. The difference between these types of advocacy and advocacy in the policy arena are matters of topic, scale, and audience.
Advocacy in the policy arena can be defined along the following lines:
Topic: Improvements to public policy or funding for public programs at the local, state or federal level
Scale: Focused on benefits for a group of people as opposed to an individual
Audience: Primarily targeted at policy makers at the local, state or federal level. Secondary targets may include opinion leaders, business interests and citizens in an effort to elicit change with relevant policy-makers.
In addition, the use of the term advocacy refers specifically to advocacy that is done by non-professionals as opposed to the “direct lobbying” done by government relations professionals across the country. A fourth area of differentiation, therefore, would be:
Advocate: An individual, such as an association member, company employee or citizen, who pleads the public policy case to a policy maker, often in concert with a larger organization.