10 Steps to Improve Your Association's State Government Advocacy

10 Steps to Improve Your Association's State Government Advocacy | MCI United States | EN

July, 10 2020

Does your association or professional society need to be active at the state level? Do you know how to evaluate your current strategy? MCI USA professionals can assist your association and society navigate advocacy in 50 states on a variety of policy issues.

State government advocacy is essential for trade associations and professional societies who want to improve their government relations networking efforts. With congressional gridlock impeding passage of critical legislative fixes, associations and societies are advocating their most pressing issues to state-elected officials. It is not surprising that due to congressional partisanship many corporations, companies, and associations are utilizing state government relations. Association members often rely on state advocacy in states their conduct business in or important states influencing national policies (i.e. California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Texas).

This advocacy may include educating state legislators and regulators, activating grassroots support, or hiring lobbyists.  Navigating multiple state legislatures is challenging because of a rapidly shifting environment that requires constant monitoring, reporting, coalition building, reassessment, and negotiations. Where the federal process is slow and may take years to produce measurable results, at the state level, legislators only have a few weeks to resolve policy debates and appropriate an annual or biennial budget that may impact your members. With the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, state legislatures are critical in easing restrictions and modifying professions and businesses.

Here are 10 state advocacy steps that can assist your association or society:

  1. Hire a state government relations professional. Experience in state processes is key to success.
  2. Perform a SWOT analysis. Knowing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is key in moving your advocacy agenda forward.
  3. Survey members to determine which states are important to their profession or industry.Narrowing 50 states to a handful assists in focusing member time and association resources.
  4. Build on members state relationships. It may be difficult to create change from the outside. Leveraging established relationships may save advocacy dollars and heavy lifting.
  5. Hold weekly or monthly calls.Constant member communication/feedback is critical.
  6. Solidify a message and stick to it.Often this is the hardest step because it involves agreement on how to proceed by everyone. Again, messaging may vary by state based on political realities.
  7. Communicate with elected officials and regulators.Forward letters explaining policy positions or send out alerts urging member engage their elected officials in the legislative process.
  8. Stay active when state legislatures are not active.Encourage members to meet legislators, attend stakeholder meetings, and draft legislative language when legislatures are not meeting.
  9. Communicate state advocacy successes with members. Success is contagious, share it.
  10. Measure the return on investment in state advocacy. Were you able to pass, amend or prevent passage of legislation that impacts your members?Quantifying the cost of effective advocacy attracts more members.


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