|Educating lawmakers: Reaching out to politicians to help your cause |
The City of Laurel – Community Family Center, a 4imprint customer, credits much of its success and growth to the support it has received from the community’s political leaders. Grant-funded through the Mississippi Healthy Marriage Initiative, the Center provides free relationship education to more than 750 clients in four counties. Its client base has grown dramatically due to a very active referral base, progressive mayor and city council, and networking together as a team.
Using the Family Center as our inspiration, we’ve compiled a few handy tips to help your nonprofit organization rally support and bring politicians on board:First things first: research
Before beginning your journey to obtain political support, we recommend putting in a sizable amount of research time. Start on the local level with politicians in your city, township, county or even state. Look for politicians and community leaders who have shown interest in your organization’s cause or would be motivated to give.Research where politicians have donated in the past, and how many nonprofit organizations they already give to (a great site to use for this purpose is OpenSecrets.org). Also take stock of their past voting records surrounding related issues to ensure their core values align with your organization’s mission and goals.
Then, keep the pressure low
You understand how important it is to build relationships in the nonprofit realm. Before asking for a donation or legislative help, consider keeping the pressure low and asking for something else: a bit of their time.
- Try inviting politicians to an organizational event like a facility tour, educational breakfast or fundraiser.
- Once they arrive, make sure politicians and community leaders are well-taken care of. Consider providing them with a personal “go-to guy or gal” to answer any questions and consistently touch base. Then, once the event is dwindling down, provide those politicians that can accept promotional giveaways with an eco-friendly parting gift: An organic tote filled with information about the event and your organization, contact information and donation forms, and an Eco Grow Cup—relaying your hope that they “grow together” with your organization! Add in a logo’d organic baseball cap in the summer or organic rib knit beanie in the winter to spread your message even after the event is through.
Finally, bring it on home
There are a variety of ways to make contact with politicians, including face-to-face meetings, phone calls, personal letters and e-mail. Although e-mail may seem the quickest way to the source, nonprofit organizations typically find the most donation success via the other listed means.
- Regardless of your communication method, one point of advice will always ring true: Keep it brief and get to the point quickly. Within the first minute of verbal conversation or paragraph of writing, we recommend stating your organization, its purpose and the purpose for contacting him/her. You already understand how important it is to be completely transparent in the nonprofit world, so be sure your “asks” follow suit.
- Begin to discuss what action you’re proposing he/she might take or the donation amount you’re requesting. By answering all of their questions up-front, many politicians are more likely to make a commitment.
- Leave him/her with your name and contact information to answer any follow-up questions. If mailing a letter, you may also want to supplement your request with an easy-mailing magnet or computer calendar, imprinted with your logo, name and phone number. This will keep your information front-and-center and increases open rates!
After you get the support of one politician or community member, more will follow soon. Nevertheless, don’t take our word for it: According to the Laurel Community Family Center, its diverse group of community and political supporters has been instrumental in getting the word out and increasing referrals. Now, get out there and rally political support – we know you can do it!