Deep Dive Breakout 1

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

11:30am – 12:30pm

Brandy Stacks (Prudential Financial), Jacki Ball (National PTA), Andrew Fullerton (National Kidney Foundation), and Matt Haller (International Franchise Association)

Your board controls the purse strings and the policy agenda. But what if they aren’t ready to buy-in to your proposed approach? Hear from those who have learned how to communicate to and work with their boards to encourage an advocacy program to flourish.

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  • Every organization is different but you can learn principles on working with your board from these stories and anecdotes.
  • The major difference between large corporate boards and non-profit boards where many are there as volunteers, on their own dime.
  • Some boards can have a mix of fortune 100 CEOs and small business owners.

The 101 of communicating with your Board

  • Need to strike a balance between providing appropriate opportunities for boards to engage- without encroaching on time that should be spent on regular duties.
  • It is efficient to bundle board meetings with a fly-ins or other occasions where they are already in town and can knock out or approve an agenda for the year.
  • Some boards really want to get out of the way and not impede your proposed actions. If you have a franchisee small business owner they may want to get more involved but if the CEO of Choice Hotel is on your board, they have other things to do and may defer to you on hill issues.
  • Consistently communicating with your board is important.
  • Corporate boards can have hyper educated CEOs as they are in the know from their own advocacy and grassroots teams. They probably just want to know the 30,000-foot view of policy direction.
  • On non-profit boards, many may be politically illiterate but if you need them, take small steps such as op-ed, congressional roundtable, or simply a blog post.

Tips to communicate

  • You may not get a lot of face time…so keep that in mind. (Build a relationship over email to show value, provide frequent advocacy and policy updates, and share actionable steps that they can take.)
  • Here’s how you can be engaged, here’s the action items you can take to share with your network or your team: 1) Don’t make them read! 2) Tell them only what you know 3) Keep it non-partisan and skip the jargon 4) Research the people before the meeting. Look at their LinkedIn/social media and contact people who know them. 5) Need to know and nice to know. Dump out the nice to know.
  • Challenges – The public doesn’t understand your business model or understand something fundamental. Prove your point to them with research, quantitative, qualitative, present it.

Money follows ideas: How to create compelling ideas with a strong purpose

  • Set your organization up for a big advocacy win by conducting a needs assessment so that they can clarify the path forward. Let’s put resources into gathering information rather than pushing money towards the board’s pet project.
  • Focus on neutralizing a MOC or an issue.
  • Show the board the value of the government affairs team. No matter where you are, justify your value. You need benchmarks, and survey to ask for money. DATA! Build consensus and identify allies in the room.
  • Bring it back to the strategic plan – they wrote it!
  • Lay the foundation for a real relationship – find a champion- so that when you have a real ask, you’ll be ready.
  • Research, research, research!
  • Show what are you offering them for their time and effort.
  • No access? Alternative methods of communications are key and include: newsletters, communications pieces, and share success stories

What defines success in eyes of your board?

  • Certain policy positions becoming law and expanding the number of bill sponsors.
  • Interviewing for the first time in another body or a big committee hearing.
  • Increasing the number of events that you host.
  • Increasing number of MOCs that come to your office.
  • Getting a program included at an important policy level.

What complications arise from your CEO working for the board?

  • You need to have a process for communicating with the board so access cannot just be cut off.
  • It helps to use benchmarking, request access every year for 5 years, and really wear them down.
  • It is also important to insist that your board receives a robust onboarding/training.