What role are you playing in the public policy arena on behalf of your members?
As associations and chambers, isn’t that our primary role to protect our members from government overregulation and help them grow their business?
If you’re not in the advocacy business, you should be.
All the recent studies I’ve read, including the recent third edition of the Western Association of Chamber Executives (W.A.C.E.) survey, from chamber members across the country are reporting that they want their chamber to play in the public policy space. It’s important to them.
I couldn’t agree more.
Do you have a complete government affairs program? Do you want to build one? I’ve always said an effective government affairs program is like a three legged stool.
The three key elements are:
- Direct Lobbying
- Political Action Committee (PAC)
This is where you make direct contact with your legislator and talk about your issue. The lobbyist is responsible for knowing the issue and the opposite sides of the issue. It’s important to share both sides and explain why you’re on the correct side. Shouldn’t all issues be voted on the merits of the issue and what’s good for business?
Lobbying is about building relationships with your legislator and their key staff. It’s just as important that they know you and ultimately check with you before voting on any legislation. That’s a sign that you’re dialed in.
Political Action Committee
It takes money to get elected and re-elected. PACs allow you to play an important role in supporting legislators who support your issues. PAC money is the toughest money to raise so it’s important that you spend it wisely.
Do you have a set criteria laid out that is clear and transparent on whom you support? If not, you should. Association and chambers should be in the business of supporting legislators who support the association or chamber members.
While some may argue it’s the most important, rest assured you must have a robust grassroots program to allow you to be effective in the legislative process. It shows that you have support from the business community on a specific issue.
In grassroots, we talk about key contact or broad based programs.
The key contact program is all about identifying key leaders within your organization and having them contact the legislator. These individuals are already known by the legislator. They already contribute to the legislator’s re-election campaign or maybe even campaign for them.
The broad based program allows you to mobilize your entire membership on a specific issue.
Both are important.
For your association or chamber, it’s just good business being in the advocacy business!
Originally published on www.chamberleadership.com.