Our legislative session here in North Carolina ended earlier this month (er, for the most part, anyway). Congress is speeding toward August recess. Everyone is focused on what’s sure to be a tumultuous 2018 campaign.
But whether you run a state- or federal-level advocacy group, this is no time to rest. The advocacy programs that put in more effort now will be the most well-positioned for success when new legislative sessions start in January.
Here are three ideas we’ve been thinking about to make the best use what remains of 2018:
1. Take stock of your advocacy program. This is the best time for advocacy surveys. Are advocates well-informed? Are they getting information in the most convenient ways? Have their issue priorities changed? In what advocacy activities are they most interested? Learn from this feedback and give yourself time to invest in making the right adjustments for 2019. There may even be some time to fit in some advocacy training sessions. As always, satisfied advocates are engaged advocates.
2. Use the campaign as leverage. Remember that legislator (or maybe group of legislators) that wouldn’t help you during the session? Now they’re all candidates. Given the way the political winds are blowing, they likely have a competitive race. Use this power to your advantage. Mobilize your local advocates to ask these legislators, as well as their opponents, to publicly support your issue. Especially at the state level, dozens of votes constitute a significant swing in support, so most issues matter. Chances are, you’ll end up with a significant number of election winners that are committed to your issue. That’s a great way to jumpstart your 2019 session strategy.
3. Meet the new legislators. In my experience, pretty much every newly-elected legislator remembers who was there with them at the beginning. Make sure that list includes your organization. Help your advocates schedule local meetings with new legislators. Even in the haze of getting their new office set up, these meetings are typically easier to schedule and more informal. And it’s the perfect way to start educating them on their issues. For extra credit, snap a photo, frame it, and send it to them to display in their new office (this usually falls under the “nominal gift” clause, so you won’t be breaking any ethics rules). This is the single most effective way to use the time between election day and the start of the new session.
What is your advocacy program focused on for the rest of this year? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.