Deep Dive Breakout 2

Thursday, August 3, 2017

11:30am –12:30pm

Khelan Bhatia (AARP), John Lewis (Formerly with the Association of Clinical Research Organizations), John Funderburk (Alzheimer’s Association), and Laura Ness (BAYADA Home Health Care)

We often target lawmakers with our advocacy messages, but what about recruiting some to advance our cause? Our panel will share case studies and practitioner advice for converting a legislator into a champion and then keeping them engaged.

Have feedback on this session? We’d love to hear it! Submit it here.


What motivates a legislator to become a champion?

  • Industry jobs in their district will be one of the key motivators to align philosophically with members of Congress.
  • Make sure to do your research and come equipped with facts that can help your advocate build a personal relationship with their member of Congress.
  • Meet your target where they are.

How to maintain the passion?

  • Leverage coalitions and third-party groups for their connections and their ability to lend support – they’re often overlooked. Even if they don’t fully endorse your idea, they can acknowledge it in the broader discourse.
  • Give out a legislator of the year award to build press recognition.
  • Provide social media support by thanking legislators.
  • Become a resource for them and support them on other issues.
  • Use a PAC to give financial support to campaigns.
  • One organization has a wrap-around program around their fly-in: DC fly-in attendees commit to a district meeting. Schedule regular coffee meetings in the district.
  • Eventually, a relationship will be built to a point where the lawmakers’ office reaches out to you to schedule the next meeting.
  • Provide frequent updates to legislators and their staff and seek their advice and counsel on issues.
  • Reward them for their dedication by letting your community know who your champions in Congress are, and by fundraising for them.
  • Talk up your champion to other legislators and to other organizations so it gets back to them that you were praising them and expands their profile.

How do PACs play a role?

  • Besides giving dollars to candidate campaigns, PACs can show support other ways. One organization sent campaign mailers to 30,000 primary voters – and the Congressman and their staff members’ houses – even in a safe election to let them know there is support. The Congressman called the organization’s CEO the day after the election to thank the organization.

Leveraging your key contact program

  • Key contact “ambassadors” are the best person to be the point of contact with a legislator and to be your eyes and ears with them.
  • Have the contacts keep the legislator informed about how the issue is changing or affecting them – including sending clips to their staff.
  • The key contact can also write thank you notes, volunteer on campaigns, and generally cheerlead for your legislative champion. Trustworthy professions in particular help here.
  • Bring a “ringer” to pull the heart strings, like a child with the illness your organization is advocating to fight. This provides an additional opportunity for policymakers to meet the people affected by the issue.