Monday, January 21, 2008

What's the best way to lobby? Recruit a messenger

I was just speaking with a potential client, typical of many progressive organizations: a 501(c)(3) membership organization based in Washington, D.C. with an aggressive vision, a healthy budget and not much of a track record influencing Congress. They are stuck in the same Beltway quicksand as lots of other groups -- they spend their money on D.C.-based staffers and consultants who get to know congressional staffers and hope that the pitch trickles up to the Members.

So much better to spend the budget on organizing your members to recruit messengers to lobby for you. Find the mayors, state legislators, county board members and community leaders who agree with the agenda, and help them spend their political capital on their Members of Congress.

A Member listens a lot more to the political infrastructure in their state than they do a D.C.-based staffer. Too many organizations spend too much money in Washington and not nearly enough on building support in the rest of the country.

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