Advocacy Strategies for Lame Duck Sessions
Advocacy Strategies: Lame Duck Sessions Can Help Achieve Advocacy Goals
After election season is over, it’s easy to just want to pack up and go to the beach and shut off our political brain for a while. But across the country, as well of as well as in Congress, we are about to go into the legislative season and lame duck sessions. Now is the time to be prepared for short-term and long-term legislative and advocacy fights ahead. As we prepare for advocacy campaigns this year and next, here are some suggestions for advocacy strategies for the upcoming sessions.
Define your short-term advocacy goals.
Start with a plan. What do you need to accomplish in the next few months to set your advocacy organization up for the future? Pass a bill? Develop a strategic relationship with a committee chair? Build capacity in a region or a district? Define an issue? Clarifying your short-term advocacy goals early and being as specific as possible will help you to get where you need to go.
Define your long-term advocacy goals.
Although there may be a specific bill you are working to pass, most of the advocacy work that happens during a lame duck session will center on long-term, ongoing fights that aren’t bound by the legislative season. Play the long game and integrate your strategy with your short-term goals.
Grow your advocacy assets.
Think about how you can leverage the lame duck session to build the infrastructure you need for both the short and long session, specifically in terms of lists, supporters and the ever-fashionable dollar. There are many tactics, from old-school lobby visits to harnessing click-to-call technology on a site like Pandora, which could be useful.
Write it down: Creating a written plan with timelines and benchmarks for success for lame duck and beyond will allow you to assess whether or not you achieved your goals. You would be surprised (or maybe not) how few people actually write down an advocacy plan.
Make an advocacy calendar.
While lame duck session may not be the time to accomplish a ton of things legislatively, thinking about it as part of a larger fight is just a smart strategy. Use it as a time to lay the groundwork and advance your position in other ways like organizing and active publicity around your position to both membership and the general public. Laying that groundwork means setting a schedule and doing it soon.
Seize your advocacy opportunities.
While many people see it as a chore, advocacy is an opportunity to create long-term relationships and lasting benefits for an organization. Whether it is fundraising or signing up new supporters, you’re building capacity that you can harness for the bigger fights you’ll inevitably face down the line.
Do it now.
The longer you wait to plan your advocacy strategy and act, the more reactive you’ll be. Don’t get caught on your heels – You know your issue. Look at your timeline, and create a calendar that will allow you to plan and be proactive and take advantage f the time and opportunity you have.
Long-term engagement matters
Building relationships with elected officials, members and other constituencies is a long-term benefit to your advocacy organization. No one wants to feel like they are only contacted when you want something. Take the time to build a relationship that exists outside of the political campaign cycle. The more you work at it, the healthier and more organized your organization will be. Being active now will make your organization stronger for next year. Think of it as a way to continue to grow your advocacy for the next time you need help.
Have questions about your advocacy strategies for lame duck? Leave us a comment or drop us a line.