lobbying by nonprofits

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science
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What is Lobbying? 

Lobbying is a form of public policy advocacy and educating government.  Lobbying is communicating with legislators and the executive branch to encourage them to take action on specific legislation and in some states – regulations.  Lobbying is part of participating in the democratic process. www.clpi.org

What is lobbying continued… 

Lobbying can involve government, the media, people nonprofits serve and even the entire community.

Lobbying can be an effective strategy for offering new ideas to government, holding government accountable and securing better public policies that affect nonprofits’ missions. www.clpi.org

A little knowledge about the following will get you started lobbying: 

The legislative process  Setting up a legislative network  Use of a government relations committee  The role of media in lobbying  The law governing lobbying by nonprofits www.clpi.org

The nonprofit lobbyist’s skills: 

To start, the nonprofit lobbyist needs to know: – A few basics about the legislative process – The main arguments for and against your bill – How to communicate effectively with your

organization’s members, the public and the media. www.clpi.org

The federal legislative process: 

The legislative process is controlled by people, not institutions.  Legislation usually moves from: – subcommittee to – full-committee to – floor vote (in both chambers of a legislature) to – conference between the chambers.

At each step it’s possible to influence outcome. www.clpi.org

The legislative process (con’t): 

All members of the legislature are not equal. – Majority party members have more power. – Senior members are usually more influential.

Senior legislative staff often wield enormous power.


Your leader in the legislature: 

It is important to secure the support of a Member of the legislature, preferably in the Committee making decisions about the bill.  It is important for this Member to become the Champion.  Almost equally important is the skill and commitment of the legislative staff. www.clpi.org

Lobbying the Administration: 

Sometimes persons within the Executive Branch hold power over the prospects for legislation.

It is important to know who are potential allies and who are potential opponents.

Developing strong relations with executive branch employees can be important. Legislators may come and go but often career executive branch employees have invaluable institutional knowledge and credibility for a given issue. www.clpi.org

Effective written lobbying communications are: 

Accurate  Brief  Clear  Timely  Followed up with a telephone call


Current communication technologies for mobilizing grassroots support: 

E-mail  Web sites  Faxes  Telephone Routing Systems  Zip Code Matching (targeting grassroots in a certain geographic area) www.clpi.org

Effective communication methods with Congressional offices:     

Spontaneous letters from constituents Visits from constituents Articles in state/district newspapers Telephone calls from community and issue opinion leaders Telephone calls from constituents


Your letter to your legislator:     

 

Use personal or business letterhead. One page -- your own words. Ask legislator to reply - ask directly whether he/she supports. Don’t use threatening tone. Don’t overstate influence. Be certain letter arrives before the vote. Say thank you. www.clpi.org

Meeting with your legislator: 

Nervous? You know more about the subject.  An advance appointment is important.  A small group (2-3) is fine.  Discuss the issue from your legislator’s perspective.


Meeting with your legislator (con’t): Can’t answer a question? Don’t bluff. Gather information and get back.  Leave fact sheet.  Write -- say thanks -- remind legislator of agreements reached. 


Presenting Testimony: 

Keep statement brief -- include a one page summary.  First choice for presenter -- volunteer; senior staff second choice.  Get other groups to sign your testimony.  “Plant” questions with supportive members of the Committee holding the hearing. www.clpi.org

Presenting Testimony (con’t): Don’t read the testimony.  Okay to be direct in response to hostile question, but always be courteous.  Don’t have the answer? Say so - get information. 


Telephoning: 

Telephone call to Washington office can be very persuasive.  Keep it brief.  Can’t get through, ask for aide.  Can’t reach aide, leave message with the receptionist.  Calls to the legislator’s district office is second-best, but better than nothing! www.clpi.org

E-mail and faxes to Congressional offices: 

90% of Congressional offices use e-mail.  E-mail from outside the Congressional district not relevant.  Faxes and e-mail are acceptable but well written, personal postal letters continue to rank highest.


Other ways to communicate: 

Invite legislator to -– Visit your facility – Speak at a meeting sponsored by your group – Meet with your board – Attend breakfast meeting at state capital (Note: See CLPI tutorial, “Charitable Nonprofits and Election-Related Activities” for important limitations on the above activities during election campaigns) www.clpi.org

Grassroots Action through a Legislative Network:  “All

politics is local” – former Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  Legislative networks are an organized, systematic means of communicating with local volunteers who have agreed to contact legislators.  Legislative networks don’t have to be elaborate. www.clpi.org

Legislative Networks (con’t): 

Volunteers are ultimately more influential than paid staff.

To set up a network: – – – –

Get list of legislators; Recruit volunteers; Develop means of communicating quickly; Work at it. Networks are absolutely essential -but atrophy quickly.


Lobbying in Coalition: 

The enactment of major legislation often takes the effort of a coalition of people and organizations – focusing the resources of many groups with interest in the same issue.

Coalitions are always fragile, but have potential for enormous influence.

Coalition leadership’s job is to build trust, openness and honesty. “No surprises” is paramount. www.clpi.org

Lobbying in Coalition (con’t): Every coalition must have a “clearinghouse” to get quick information to members.  Coalition membership may change markedly over time.  Getting coalition information out can take time, plan ahead of time how to get the information out.  When a coalition effort is successful -- spread the glory! 


Government Relations Committees: 

The role of government relations committee is to establish and pursue legislative priorities for the organization.  A big mistake of such committees is to take on more than one “number one” priority.  An organization can follow 20 issues, but all must be ranked. www.clpi.org

Government Relations Committees (con’t): 

A committee member may push staff to emphasize his/her pet priorities. Don’t give in!  Delegate authority to small group to make pressure decisions on legislation when time doesn’t permit convening your larger group.  Subgroups will help.


Government Relations Committees (con’t): 

Meetings tips: – Agendas – Cordial tone – Physical arrangements – Don’t let anyone dominate – Use of name tent cards


Role of Media in Lobbying: 

Legislators note organizations that media quote.  Congressional staff rank news articles and editorials in daily newspapers very high.  A person with experience in media relations (a volunteer is fine) is invaluable.


Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t):  Several

points to keep in mind:

– Send only “news worthy” information

– Recognize the “herd instinct” – “Off the cuff” quotes should be well-

rehearsed – Keep list of journalists who have contacted you or have done a story on your issue. www.clpi.org

Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t): 

An effective press release: – Include the most important information in first

paragraph – Put the rest of information in descending order of importance – First page should answer five “w’s” -- who, what, when, where and why.


Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t):  Press


– In most major metropolitan areas, it’s difficult

to get press conference attendance because of competition. – You will need to know:    

Hour, day press most likely to attend; Location that will attract reporters; How far in advance press must be notified; How best to notify. www.clpi.org

Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t):  Press

Conferences (con’t):

– Give a reminder call on day of conference

– Have a well-written press statement and

background piece – Be certain audio systems are flawless – Keep it short; time for questions – Keep a list of attendees for follow-up www.clpi.org

Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t): 

Letters to the editor: – Keep letters tightly composed; – Use specific examples; – One point per letter; – Accurate, up-to-date information; – Don’t attack opposition; – Always sign your name; include address and

telephone number. www.clpi.org

Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t): 

Radio and Television: – Radio and TV offer public service time. – Don’t forget news directors of radio and

television stations when circulating press releases. – Have a visual angle for TV news story.


Role of Media in Lobbying (con’t): 

Radio and Television (con’t) – Keep public service television spots short -- 9

to 10 seconds; – Radio, 20 to 30 seconds; – Get well-briefed spokesperson for your group on radio, television talk show; – Give local radio, TV your ideas for editorial.


The Law Governing Lobbying By Nonprofits 

See the CLPI tutorial, “Lobbying, Advocacy, and the Law” for important information on the law governing nonprofits’ ability to lobby.


Have additional questions regarding your lobbying efforts? Contact CLPI staff at (202) 387-5048 or at [email protected]


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