The Case for Innovation in Advocacy

I am not an innovator.

Correction: I have been convinced that I cannot be an innovator.

If you were to play word association with advocacy, I’m sure innovation is not the word you’d come up with.  But why is that? Many associations insist that it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Yes, traditional lobbying, grassroots advocacy, and political involvement are effective ways of moving or defeating legislation.  However, what if there’s a way to make those methods even better?  Fly-ins are great, but expensive.  Political action committees are prohibited for many cases.  What does that mean for the in-house lobbyist who needs to convince a few key people to support their legislation?

This is why innovation is necessary for association government relations.  At some point, with all the competition for Congress’ attention and limited resources, the traditional methods will no longer be enough. We have a great opportunity to cut through the clutter and have our voices heard.  However, we must be open to using social media.  We must rethink the strategy of flooding the Hill with form letters.  We must be willing to look outside our rock stars and leadership for grassroots advocates.  If Congress can become increasingly creative in the way they do their work (can you say Super Committee?), why can’t we?

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4 thoughts on “The Case for Innovation in Advocacy

  1. Let’s tackle meetings & lobbying for innovation. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were sessions devoted, at Great Ideas and elsewhere, to brainstorm how it could be done differently. Who is doing different kinds of lobbying? Are grassroots efforts any more effective? (I worked for NARAL when I first moved to DC – on 1/22 of each year, all staff went to the Hill. It’s a superb experience.) Is it ever more effective to spend time w/ the Senator or Member when she/he is back in his or her own district v. on the Hill?

  2. Stephanie –

    Excellent post and as long as we live in a post Citizens United world it is more imperative than ever. All the form letters in the world don’t stand a chance against unlimited corporate spending on campaigns and issues.

    Shelly

  3. Joan – Yes, yes, yes! This would be a great session for either Great Ideas or Annual. As far as your question regarding grassroots, the answer is all of the above. However, it’s all about the strategy. Are we targeting the right member or the one we’re friends with? Are we not make the right friends on the Hill? Have we trained our member to deal with the tough questions? This is why we desparately need to be innovated in our advocacy.

    Shelly – Thanks for your comment. The form letter, unfortunately, goes both ways. While we can’t control what we get from Members of Congress, we can do a better job of what we send to them.

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