From Resistance to Resources: How to Gain Internal Support, Status and Money for Your Grassroots and PAC Programs: Part One

Why do some government affairs departments, specifically grassroots and PAC operations, consistently get increased budget funding and staff resources while others struggle to justify their existence? We track our clients’ results, and what we found was startling.

After the conclusion of our collaborations, over 85% of our consulting clients have experienced long-term funding increases, increased staff resources, and enhanced internal status for their grassroots program and/or PAC. So, in hot pursuit of the truth, I wanted to find out what some of these organizations have in common.

Intrepid Accountability / Focus on ROI

It doesn’t take DNA evidence to prove the value of grassroots advocacy. I’ve always believed that one of the reasons many of our programs suffer from the “Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome” is because we have not been candid about our successes and shortcomings. While it’s true that we would win any “How a Bill Becomes Law” trivia contest among our coworkers, we often assume that they don’t understand what we do for our organizations. We then acquiesce to their beliefs by not keeping them informed of our progress. One of the ways we gain respect is by exhibiting accountability for the resources we do have.

From the very start of our collaboration, one of our first consulting clients always impressed me with her attention to detail. I really took notice when she called to thank me for helping them build a strong internal corporate grassroots program. They just won a federal issue which saves the company millions per year, and she had some questions for me.

She was preparing a report to her senior management. She didn’t have to do this; her CEO had already publicly lauded their department for helping tilt the debate in their favor. However, she wanted to precisely demonstrate not only the employee response, but also the staff time, materials cost, and other expenses associated with the mobilizations.

She then deftly contrasted that with the cost of hiring an external firm to come in and “create” grassroots enthusiasm for the issue. She went further and contrasted the internal campaign costs with the savings realized by the favorable legislation. The ROI was clearly in her favor. The internal grassroots program was a bargain. Her department was profiled in a major publication that goes to all customers, and she added more staff.

Stay tuned — in our next issue, we’ll reveal the other critical success factors for going from stagnation to status.