Special guest blog by Roger Rickard, founder of Voices in Advocacy

In these uncertain times, I have been reminded of the wisdom in the great Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

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Kristen Prather, state director of grassroots programs at CUNA recently had an article in Campaigns & Elections with great tips on how to build an effective state advocacy program for national organizations. As she notes:

“Though these basic activities form the backbone of any successful state advocacy presence, there are even more beneficial/advanced activities for state-level advocacy. Organizations should always look for ways to better understand their members. A good way to do this is through surveys of membership looking at demographics, key issues to members, and determining if members know any elected officials and how they’re connected to them…

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Beware of Form Email Purgatory

Great minds think alike. It’s an old saying and usually offered in agreement with something you have just read or heard. That’s exactly the case when I read a recent post from the Congressional Management Foundation’s Seth Turner…

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Is your organization prepared to approach a “change” Congress in 2019?

By David Lusk

It’s uncertain if 2018 will be a “wave” election (a change in party control within the legislative branch), but we know it will be a “change” election. With less than three months before a new Congress takes over, your organization has likely finalized, or nearly finalized, your 2019 policy and advocacy strategy. Since there’s some uncertainty about party control in either chamber of Congress next year, your “strategery” likely accounts for both a Democratic and Republican majority in each. How well will your strategy address lawmakers unfamiliar with the processes and players on Capitol Hill? Will those numbers really be significant? Let’s take a closer look.

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No Big Budget? No Problem. How Key Contacts Level the Playing Field

By Chip Felkel

Today’s advocacy environment is a noisy one. It’s hard for organizations to make their policy case with competing voices jamming the phones, crowding the digital space with ads, and crashing servers with click and send emails that begin and end the same, and according to well respected groups like the Congressional Management Foundation, have little or no true effect. You can certainly attempt to measure these efforts in terms of reach metrics, but let’s be honest: If you lose the issue, does it really matter that you got 542 retweets, sent 31,347 emails, or 468 letters? Maybe it makes you feel good. Maybe it makes your board feel okay, not happy but okay. But at some point, getting close just isn’t going to be enough, for you, for your boss or the board. What is it they say about horseshoes and hand grenades? Digital ads are expensive. Massive email and letter writing efforts can get expensive and might create some awareness but do little more than that. It’s a simple fact. And with all the changes expected from the mid-term elections, (1 in 6 in Congress, alone) organizations are going to have to find a way not only to advocate, but to educate a host of new elected officials, and fast. Hint: pre-existing relationships can go a long, long way here.

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