Advocacy Should be a Top Priority for Any Association – Here’s Why

By Heather Kazmark • March 1, 2019

Prioritizing advocacy is often overlooked because there are so many administrative and operational issues pressing organizations and businesses on a day-to-day basis. These demands often leave little time left for organizing advocacy efforts. Despite the countless, valid excuses that can be made for not prioritizing such efforts – advocacy should and must be prioritized because the decisions made in statehouses and Congress directly affect your capacity to succeed and thrive as an organization or business. Whether you realize it or not, and regardless of what industry you are a part of, legislative and regulatory outcomes affect your daily operations. Therefore, it is critical to your entity’s survival to be abreast of issues, on both the state and federal levels, that can negatively affect your bottom line or organization’s mission.

For example, imagine a bill is introduced in your state which proposes to make changes to licensure requirements in your industry. The changes are expected to result in increased out-of-pocket expenses for your entity or profession. Your organization or business is opposed to these changes but have no avenue or solid plan for seeking recourse. In turn, you lose track of additional changes made to the bill, your entity’s voice is not heard, and the bill passes with unfavorable outcomes. Or, perhaps your industry is reliant on federal subsidies to a degree. Picture a regulation getting proposed that would decrease the monetary amount granted to your entity or to an individual you serve. Without an advocacy strategy in place, your organization or business operations will be at risk of ceasing.

Individuals often take the stance that their opinions are not truly heard on issues that matter to them when it comes to shaping policy. Non-profit and for-profit entities also seem to fall prey to this philosophy. The truth is – when you speak, change can happen. Advocacy activities benefit all sectors.

Advocacy includes a “call to action” that encourages membership or the public to do something that will create systemic change. There are countless activities conducted by government affairs professionals that lead to a successful “call to action.”

Listed below are some notable advocacy activities:

  • Navigating and providing expertise on the political process and political landscape
  • Researching and tracking of legislative and regulatory proposals directly affecting your entity
  • Developing strategies to better advance your entity’s interests and industry initiatives
  • Informing membership or employees on specific issues in need of a “call to action”
  • Maintaining and establishing relationships with key decision makers and allies
  • Creating media and outreach plans to enhance public awareness and shape public opinion

Indeed, keeping track of the political process and landscape are daunting tasks. Therefore, many organizations and businesses have turned to contracting advocacy services in order to carefully track, prioritize, and navigate legislative and regulatory issues that impact their specific industries.

If it doesn’t already, your entity’s strategic plan should include the development of an infrastructure to support an ongoing advocacy effort. Government affairs services provide a foundation to build upon when constructing your entity’s advocacy blueprint. Prioritizing advocacy will benefit your entity in both the long and short-term. In sum, industry simply cannot afford to ignore the role advocacy plays in shaping policy outcomes.

Naylor has been assisting the non-profit and for-profit sectors, spanning 100 plus industries, to engage and grow membership for decades with proven results. Our advocacy services enhance Naylor’s ability to provide holistic engagement and growth. Realizing advocacy activities are too complex for many industries to take on themselves, Naylor offers top notch government affairs services to advance your entity’s mission and goals.

About The Author

Heather Kazmark is a government affairs specialist with Naylor Association Solutions. She handles advocacy activities for several associations across the country. Her background includes having held positions in state government, political campaigns, and legislative and regulatory tracking. Heather holds a political science undergraduate degree in public administration, cum laude; and a master’s degree in American Government and Public Law from Northern Illinois University.