Thanks to Game-Changing Technology, Key Contact Advocacy Is No Longer a “Pie-in-the-Sky” Idea

By Sarah G. Dennis

Imagine starting every day knowing exactly how many key contact advocates your organization has for every member of the federal, state and county government and federal and state legislative committees that concern you.

Now let your mind wander over how you could maximize your resources, focus your time and target your efforts on building personal relationships with your strongest key contacts or execute targeted calls-to-action on a moment’s notice.

Now, honestly answer these challenging questions:

1)      Are your organization’s advocacy efforts focused on achievements and outcomes or are you counting activities and attendees?

2)      Do you strategically plan your advocacy campaigns to “win” in the end or are you just hoping for the best possible result?

3)      Does your executive leadership and board view advocacy as more of an awareness effort or as an effective and integral part of your government affairs strategy?

We are publishing a series of articles that address these tough questions and look at the undeniable ROI and impact of choosing our unmatched technology to build, maintain and grow a powerful and effective key contact advocacy and broad-based program.

PART I: Key Contact Advocacy Is No Longer a “Pie-In-The-Sky” Idea

Gone are the days when key contact advocacy programs were only a possibility for big corporations or non-profit organizations with endless resources at their disposal.

Thanks to continual development of our technology, organizations no longer need a cadre of researchers or interns cross-referencing campaign contribution reports and donor records to identify links between their most influential supporters and elected officials.

In today’s raucous political climate, effective advocacy programs and campaigns can’t rely on “one-hit wonders” that sling information into the cyber universe and hope it sticks.

Strategically planning to win requires knowing who you have in your corner and how strongly they are prepared to fight on your behalf.  Oftentimes, on an issue-by-issue basis.

Key contact advocates and political activists all have their place in the political arena.  How and when you engage each can mean the difference between success or defeat.

The depth of your foundation, determines the height of your success” – Dennis McLaughlin

Over 20+ years of working in non-profit advocacy has made me a firm believer that that you must build your advocacy program and each advocacy campaign on a solid foundation of key contact advocates and constituents with full knowledge of exactly who they know and what they have agreed to do for you.

I am often asked what makes someone a “key contact” advocate.  I define a key contact advocate as an individual who has agreed to leverage their personal relationship, influence and credibility with an elected official or decision maker on behalf of your organization or issue.

The level of their relationship may vary, but the fundamental principle remains the same. These individuals have purposefully and thoughtfully engaged with your organization in a targeted effort to influence elected officials with whom they have a personal relationship.  They aren’t just adding themselves to an email list or a social media feed.  They have voluntarily become your fish in your barrel.

Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; suddenly you are doing the impossible” - Saint Francis of Assisi

I’ve heard a lot of people use the phrase “Work smarter…not harder”.  My version of that quote is, “work smarter so that when you are working hard it pays off’.  Sure, my version is not nearly as eloquent, but the truth is not very many successful people in the political field don’t have to work hard regardless.  Our days are generally long, complicated and require unimaginable flexibility.

Success begins when you select the best technology solution for your advocacy network. I recommend a web-based platform, like RAP INDEX, that builds your broad-based advocacy network, tracks your advocates’ voting constituency, and acquires the information crucial to identify your key contact advocates.

Weekly featured topics in this series will include:

ROI: What you should be earning on your investment in advocacy

Money: How to run with the big dogs when there is no budget for big lobby

24/7/365 Politics: What you must do to stay ahead of today’s political calendar

Metrics: Advocacy must be internally relevant and externally effective

Don’t take our word for it: What experts and elected officials say about effective advocacy

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