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.


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.

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

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

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

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

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:

Have a good week.

Don't Quit!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008

Motivation and Inspiration

Hello Everybody.

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

We talk a lot about leadership, but rarely seem to get into what leadership really entails. My experience in past advocacy campaigns that have involved the creation of coalitions and collaborations have taught me that the skill of being able to motivate people to action and to sustain a high motivation level over time, is invaluable in setting and achieving specific goals.

But how do you do that? How do you motivate people to support and become part of your agenda? And how do you keep them involved in helping you to realize the mission statement of your organization?

Robert Louis Stevenson once said: "Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others."

I came across an article on the internet by Carmine Gallo about American business leadership and how they might learn to be more inspiring. The lessons are applicable to us as well I think.

Here's that article:

by Carmine Gallo

"American business professionals are uninspired. Only 10% of employees look forward to going to work and most point to a lack of leadership as the reason why, according to a recent Maritz Research poll. But it doesn't have to be that way. All business leaders have the power to inspire, motivate, and positively influence the people in their professional lives.

For the past year, I have been interviewing renowned leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators who have an extraordinary ability to sell their vision, values, and themselves. I was researching their communications secrets for my new book, Fire Them Up. What I found were seven techniques that you can easily adopt in your own professional communications with your employees, clients, and investors.

1. Demonstrate enthusiasm -- constantly. Inspiring leaders have an abundance of passion for what they do. You cannot inspire unless you're inspired yourself. Period. Passion is something I can't teach. You either have passion for your message or you don't. Once you discover your passion, make sure it's apparent to everyone within your professional circle. Richard Tait sketched an idea on a napkin during a cross-country flight, an idea to bring joyful moments to families and friends. His enthusiasm was so infectious that he convinced partners, employees, and investors to join him. He created a toy and game company called Cranium. Walk into its Seattle headquarters and you are hit with a wave of fun, excitement, and engagement the likes of which is rarely seen in corporate life. It all started with one man's passion.

2. Articulate a compelling course of action. Inspiring leaders craft and deliver a specific, consistent, and memorable vision. A goal such as "we intend to double our sales by this time next year," is not inspiring. Neither is a long, convoluted mission statement destined to be tucked away and forgotten in a desk somewhere. A vision is a short (usually 10 words or less), vivid description of what the world will look like if your product or service succeeds. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer once said that shortly after he joined the company, he was having second thoughts. Bill Gates and Gates' father took Ballmer out to dinner and said he had it all wrong. They said Ballmer saw his role as that of a bean counter for a startup. They had a vision of putting a computer on every desk, in every home. That vision -- a computer on every desk, in every home -- remains consistent to this day. The power of a vision set everything in motion.

3. Sell the benefit. Always remember, it's not about you, it's about them. In my first class at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, I was taught to answer the question, "Why should my readers care?" That's the same thing you need to ask yourself constantly throughout a presentation, meeting, pitch, or any situation where persuasion takes place. Your listeners are asking themselves, what's in this for me? Answer it. Don't make them guess.

4. Tell more stories. Inspiring leaders tell memorable stories. Few business leaders appreciate the power of stories to connect with their audiences. A few weeks ago I was working with one of the largest producers of organic food in the country. I can't recall most, if any, of the data they used to prove organic is better. But I remember a story a farmer told. He said when he worked for a conventional grower, his kids could not hug him at the end of the day when he got home. His clothes had to be removed and disinfected. Now, his kids can hug him as soon as he walks off the field. No amount of data can replace that story. And now guess what I think about when I see the organic section in my local grocery store? You got it. The farmer's story. Stories connect with people on an emotional level. Tell more of them.

5. Invite participation. Inspiring leaders bring employees, customers, and colleagues into the process of building the company or service. This is especially important when trying to motivate young people. The command and control way of managing is over. Instead, today's managers solicit input, listen for feedback, and actively incorporate what they hear. Employees want more than a paycheck. They want to know that their work is adding up to something meaningful.

6. Reinforce an optimistic outlook. Inspiring leaders speak of a better future. Robert Noyce, the co-founder of Intel INTC, said, "Optimism is an essential ingredient of innovation. How else can the individual favor change over security?" Extraordinary leaders throughout history have been more optimistic than the average person. Winston Churchill exuded hope and confidence in the darkest days of World War II. Colin Powell said that optimism was the secret behind Ronald Reagan's charisma. Powell also said that optimism is a force multiplier, meaning it has a ripple effect throughout an organization. Speak in positive, optimistic language. Be a beacon of hope.

7. Encourage potential. Inspiring leaders praise people and invest in them emotionally. Richard Branson has said that when you praise people they flourish; criticize them and they shrivel up. Praise is the easiest way to connect with people. When people receive genuine praise, their doubt diminishes and their spirits soar. Encourage people and they'll walk through walls for you.

By inspiring your listeners, you become the kind of person people want to be around. Customers will want to do business with you, employees will want to work with you, and investors will want to back you. It all starts with mastering the language of motivation."

I tried to deal with the issue of motivation in my book on advocacy (Hardball Lobbying for Nonprofits)

Here is a thumb-nail summary of those points (many of which I think echo the points in the article above):

1. Constant communication is essential for your people to have a sense of ownership in what is going on. You have to keep people "in the loop".

2. Keep it simple. If you want people to do something on your behalf it will be easier for them to comply if what you ask is easy, simple, clearly understood and the goal is ultimately perceived as attainable.

3. Promote a sense of community. People will be more likely to do what you want if they at least perceive that they aren't acting alone.

4. Everybody counts. You have to make everybody feel that their contribution is critically important.

5. Fun. It is easier to inspire people to help if you can figure out ways to make their participation fun and enjoyable.

6. Contagion. You have to promote the "bandwagon / momentum" effect. Nothing is so contagious as success. Thus it's smart to set early goals that can be achieved so that people begin to taste success early.

7. Outrage. People are more likely to join in some effort if they are outraged by some set of circumstances. This is perhaps just another way of saying that you need to make what you ask of people "personal" some how.

8. Training. People will often times want to help, but feel they lack the skills or knowledge to do so. Take away that excuse by providing training, answering their questions, and empowering them to succeed.

While I discuss these strategies in my book as relating to advocacy and lobbying efforts, they are, I think, applicable in large part to any task of trying to motivate and inspire people within your organization.

I also discuss the notion that you need to:

1. Respect your people - don't ask them to do too much, don't presume to invade their privacy by sending them too many unsolicited "asks", don't ignore the demands on their time and energy etc.

2. Use rites, rituals and ceremonies. For eons human beings have understood that participation in rituals and rites and ceremonies help cement loyalty and alligence. Something as simple as a monthly welcome to the volunteer corps coffee meet can make people feel special, and that's what you want to do.

3. Give Credit. As Paul Minicucci use to say: "Give credit where it's due, and give credit even where it isn't due." Saying thank you is the easiest thing in the world and one of the most inspiring tools you can use. Do it more.

4. Be Passionate. If you're passionate, it's easier to ask someone else to be.
It's not always easy to lead the charge for something; to inspire other people to join you, to motivate large numbers of people to help -- but that is the challenge of leadership and, I think, critically important to those of us in the arts & culture field.

NOTE: I am participating on an Advocacy / Lobbying Panel at this year's Americans for the Arts Convention in Philadelphia - June 19-22. Click here for a link to register:

I hope to see many of you there.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit!