Ready, Set, COMMUNICATE!
January 26, 2015House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R- Wis.) has said that “everything is on the table” when it comes to tax reform. Senate Finance Committee Chair Oren Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) have created five bi-partisan “study groups” to analyze all facets of the Tax Code. And President Obama outlined his tax reform proposals during last week’s State of the Union address. While none of these developments guarantee that Congress will enact meaningful tax legislation in 2015, we can be assured that a thorough discussion of the issue – including consideration of long-standing tax preferences and sacred cow deductions – will be on the congressional agenda this year. Which means that the American Fraternal Alliance and its members have to be fully engaged in the debate from "the get go." The Alliance is planning to kick off its advocacy initiative with a broad-based grassroots campaign in which every Alliance member society is encouraged to participate. The online program will be modeled on the Alliance’s wildly successful 2013 “Blank Slate” campaign in which thousands of member society executives, employees, field representatives and local chapter leaders reached out to every U.S. Senator to communicate the important economic and social contributions fraternals make as a result of our exempt status. In 2015, our objective will be to generate as many contacts as possible with both Senators and Representatives early in the tax reform debate to make sure they understand the value and viability of the fraternal exemption and the impact that fraternals have in their district and state. The program is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 3, and will run for six weeks – right up until our April 21 “Day on the Hill” event where we’ll bring dozens of fraternal leaders to Washington, D.C., for Capitol Hill visits with lawmakers and their staff. We’ll make participating in the online program as easy as possible for you and your society. We’ll send you a link to a specially designed Alliance website where your employees, agents, local chapter leaders and individual members will be able to send a personal email to their Senators and Representatives with just a few mouse clicks. The email will contain specific information on the impact fraternals have in their home state, as well as a link to the Swagel Study, which will provide policymakers with a national perspective on fraternals’ societal and economic contributions. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for your society’s participation in this initiative. Start thinking about how you are going to reach out to your organization’s key audiences – email blasts, direct mail, articles in your society’s magazine, etc. – to generate the broadest possible participation in this critically important advocacy effort. If you need help in planning your outreach strategies or would like more information on how your society can more effectively motivate its members to contact their lawmakers, just send me an email at email@example.com and we’ll contact you with some suggestions. Even better, if you’d like to share some ideas that have worked for you in previous grassroots campaigns, post a comment here and we’ll share them with Alliance members.