Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 30, 2008

Advocacy and Lobbying Readiness

Hello everyone.

"And the beat goes on........................."

With national Arts Advocacy Day just past, and during this election year, I thought it might be fun to publish an Organization Advocacy Self-Assessment Quiz that I included in the Companion Workbook to my book "Hardball Lobbying for Nonprofits"

Take the quiz, check out your score and organization's level of advocacy readiness at the end. Feel free to pass the quiz on to other people.

ADVOCACY SELF-ASSESSMENT QUIZ: (NEEDS ASSESSMENT)

Here is a simple test to assess your organization’s level of Advocacy involvement and preparedness. In an ideal situation your organization would be able to answer yes to most of the questions (see ranking at end). Don't be discouraged. This isn't an ideal world. This instrument will, however, help you to both identify your Needs and your Assets.


MY ORGANIZATION:
Has a strong relationship with our:
 City Council members ___Yes ___No
Board of Supervisors ___Yes ___No
State Legislators ___Yes ___No
School Board members ___Yes ___No
Special state legislative caucuses ___Yes ___No
Congressmen / women ___Yes ___No
U.S. Senators ___Yes ___No
Mayor ___Yes ___No
Governor (Administration) ___Yes ___No
Has a process to regularly (and ongoing) brief / inform elected officials as to the value the organization brings to the community?
___Yes ___No
Schedules a meeting with elected officials at least once a year?
___Yes ___No
Regularly invites elected officials to scheduled meetings, events / performances, exhibitions?
___Yes ___No
Regularly provides locally elected officials with a calendar or information about the organization, its programs, services, and events?
___Yes ___No
Sends a copy of the Annual Report to elected officials?
___Yes ___No
Seeks out newly elected officials to solicit their support for the organization’s mission?
___Yes ___No
Regularly finds ways for elected officials to increase their profile with our organization and its members/audiences, such as having officials introduce people, bestow awards to supporters et. al ___Yes ___No

Raises funds to support a separate Advocacy / Lobbying effort?
___Yes ___No
Funds are sufficient to hire full time staff for the Advocacy / Lobbying effort?
___Yes ___No
Engages the services of a professional lobbyist (either by ourselves or in concert with a coalition of other organizations)?
___Yes ___No
Has a staff member charged with overseeing advocacy / lobbying issues?
___Yes ___No
Has its own (or is affiliated with a coalition that has) a 501 c (4) nonprofit organization charged with advocacy management?
___Yes ___No
Has a Political Action Committee (PAC) affiliated with the above 501 c (4)?
___Yes ___No
Has a 527 organization affiliated with the above 501 c (4)?
___Yes ___No
Raises funds to support each of the above entities? organization?
___Yes ___No
Is a member of a coalition of similar groups formed to handle Advocacy efforts?
___Yes ___No


OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Invites elected officials to address our board meetings:
___Yes ___No
Includes advocacy in the Board job description?
___Yes ___No
Recruits corporate leaders with political contacts for the Board?
___Yes ___No
Trains new board members to develop their advocacy skills?
___Yes ___No
Has a standing Advocacy Subcommittee of the Board of Directors?
___Yes ___No
Includes advocacy news / reports as a regular item on the Board meeting agenda?
___Yes ___No
Encourages Board members to develop personal relationships with elected officials?
___Yes ___No


IN TERMS OF COMMUNICATION, WE:
Include in our regular newsletter or other contact with our constituent base a regular column or information on legislative issues important to the organization?
___Yes ___No
Collaborate with other organizations within the city / county to maximize political clout?
___Yes ___No
Meet regularly with advocacy representatives of other organizations within the coalition?
___Yes ___No
Participate in local / state advocacy efforts?
___Yes ___No
Meet regularly with local media (editorial boards) to promote endorsement of the value of the organization to the community?
___Yes ___No
Actively encourage client / constituent base (including audiences) to advocate for support?
___Yes ___No
Have an advocacy section on our website?
___Yes ___No
Have materials / tool-kit explaining how to advocate for people interested in helping?
___Yes ___No
Provide advocacy training for volunteer supporters?
___Yes ___No
Reach out and work collaboratively with stakeholder organizations who can help drum up support for the organization (e.g., unions, civic / business organizations, etc.)
___Yes ___No
Recognize and thank elected officials for their support?
___Yes ___No


POLITICALLY, WE:
Have a process to inquire “candidate” positions and report voting records during election cycles?
___Yes ___No
Raise and distribute funds in support of candidates for public office via a PAC.
___Yes ___No
Work on campaigns of candidates who support the organization via our PAC?
___Yes ___No
Actively support or oppose legislation that impacts our organization?
___Yes ___No
Explain to our board, staff and client base the IRS rules governing advocacy for non profit organizations?
___Yes ___No


SCORE: ADD UP THE NUMBER OF "YES" ANSWERS.
All Yes answers: You are the penultimate force in Advocacy / Lobbying and the envy of all. You have a lot of influence and clout and politicians know it.

43 + Yes answers: Congratulations your organization has an exemplary Advocacy program and ranks at the top in being politically savvy. Your power and clout depend on the amount of money you raise and the number of volunteers who work on your behalf. Politicians are aware of you and watching.

33 to 43 Yes answers: Your organization is pretty good in terms of Advocacy preparedness and action, but you must still go the last steps. Close, yet still so far, you aren’t quite competitive. You aren’t yet on the political radar screen, but you’re close. You already have some friends in high places – just not yet enough.

21 to 33 Yes answers: Your organization is half-way there but you are vulnerable. Your victories are more the result of fate than your efforts. Politicians don’t take much notice of you.

15 to 21 Yes answers: You have some of the basics down, but you really need to work on it more. You don’t have much influence. Politicians have no idea who you are or what you want, and probably don’t care.

10 to 15 Yes answers: You’ve scratched the surface, but you have a long, long way to go. You are virtually invisible to politicians.

0 to 10 Yes answers: Are you kidding? You don’t have an Advocacy strategy or program. Your organization has zero political clout. Politicians find you irrelevant and inconsequential.

© 2007 Barry Hessenius All Rights Reserved.  This work may not be copied or reproduced by any means without the written consent of Barry Hessenius

It's not likely the average arts organization (or even the average arts advocacy coalition) will be able to answer yes to most of these questions. But hopefully the exercise will give you pause to think about the kinds of assets that come to play in the advocacy / lobbying game as we strive (as a field) to move in the direction of gaining political clout and influence.

AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS PHILADELPHIA CONFERENCE: I will be on the Advocacy Panel at the AFTA gathering June 19 -22. Hope to see you there. This is going to be a really outstanding conference, and Philadelphia is an amazing city. Click for info: www.artsusa.org/events/2008/convention/default.asp

Have a good week.


Don't Quit!
 
Barry

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