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How To Get Your Association Members Excited About Advocacy

Often, advocacy is touted as a benefit of joining an association. Yet, many association members find every reason in the world not to get involved.

Often, advocacy is touted as a benefit of joining an association. Yet, many association members find every reason in the world not to get involved.

Why is this?

It’s because quite frankly, advocacy in and of itself can be frustrating tedious, and boring. It takes forever and a day to get a bill passed. We send the same old email alerts to people who could care less. We give the same boring advocacy presentation at our annual conference using jargon no one understands. It’s time to shake things up. It’s time to get our members excited about advocacy. But how?


First, to get excited about something, you have to care about it. If your members don’t have a vested interest in your legislative issues, why should they bother participating in your Hill day? Make it plain. Talk about the repercussions of inactivity. Talk about the financial and human costs. Give your members ownership of the issue. If you told them that the Congress is debating legislation that would increase funding for health care, the response may be “OK that’s good.”  If you told them that same bill would fund up to 10,000 new jobs for the industry the association represents, the response is going to be a bit more enthusiastic.


Now that you have your members’ attention, it’s time to get them involved. But look at what you (probably) have at your disposal:

  1. Email action alerts

  2. A hill day that hasn’t changed in 10 years

  3. A hard copy government relations newsletter

While these activities still have a place in your advocacy plan, it also says that your government relations office is lazy. If Congress can find new and innovative ways of getting their work done, so can you.

Members of Congress are utilizing social media to connect with their constituents. Guess what, so can you.

  1. Host a Twitter chat to educate your members about the association’s legislative agenda.

  2. Encourage your volunteer leaders to blog about their experience on Capitol Hill.

  3. Create a Facebook page highlighting your advocacy efforts.

And there are other ways to get your members excited about advocacy such as:

  1. Outreach to your student members with a Hill day just for them.

  2. Reward your top advocates with recognition at the annual conference.

  3. Set up site visits between a Member of Congress and one of your members.

When it comes to getting your members involved in advocacy, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Keeping your member involved is only the first step. You need to keep them engaged. Emphasis to your members that advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s through continuous member engagement that keeps your issues in the minds of legislators.


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