What in the World is “Data-Driven Advocacy?”
December 14, 2010I know there are times when members may get a little annoyed by all the information their association asks them to provide. We ask you to provide feedback on potential products and services, to evaluate meetings, to give your opinion on public policy positions under consideration by the Board, and to rate our performance and the value of association membership. Most importantly, we ask for detailed information on your fraternal activities – everything from member benefits, to social events, to community service projects on which your society and its lodges are engaged. Members will ask me why we need all this information. The “never-said,” but often implied, message is: “For goodness sake, we pay our dues. Just do your job, defend the tax exemption, and let us be.” But there’s more to membership – in this association and in your society – than simply paying your annual dues (or insurance premium). Or at least there should be. Membership comes with the responsibility to participate, to give back (or give feedback, at least), and to contribute to the greater good of the organization. We survey members because we really want to know what you think about issues and what action you want your association leadership to take on them. When it comes to advocacy – and the defense of our tax-exempt status is our highest priority in this arena – information is our most effective tool. Data-driven advocacy is the name of the game in today’s hyper-competitive public policy arena. Whether you’re trying to enact a new law or keep an existing one in place, you better have the facts and figures to back up your talking points. That’s why we ask for such detailed information on your fraternal activities. We absolutely, positively have to know things like:
- How much and to whom are members’ financial contributions going?
- How many community service events are societies and local lodges engaged in, how many volunteer hours are being donated, and how are these events benefitting individuals and organizations in communities across the U.S.?
- What type of membership benefits – scholarships top the list – are societies and their foundations providing?
- What type of volunteer activities are your members engaged in? Are they working with the elderly, in elementary schools, or with the homeless?
- How does your society partner with local or national nonprofits? How do fraternal volunteers and donations impact your partners?