Without trust in the leader and the organization’s purpose, it is very difficult to get people to join your grassroots cause or contribute to your PAC.
The enemies of trust I outlined in part one of this article include:
• Regular grassroots and PAC underperformance
• Misplaced loyalty
• Direction changes
• Failure to trust others
There are more enemies of trust. In this concluding article I will review the four remaining trust blockers and the questions you must ask of yourself to begin to eliminate them.
If I had a dime for every brochure, Power Point or web site that passionately extols the value of grassroots and PAC advocates, I would be able to
personally pay off the national debt. However, many of us talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.
I am always disturbed when I hear (and I still hear quite frequently) grassroots and PAC professionals talk about “using” their advocates and PAC members. My favorites: “We use our retirees for sensitive issues because legislators listen to them more than our average member,” or, “We give advice to each other about the advantages of using certain types of volunteers,” and the premier usage: “Use your senior management to raise PAC funds.”
I believe that words mean things. The time-tested observation, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” is true. The “U” word does not inspire trust. It is exceedingly self-serving and demonstrates that grassroots advocates and PAC members are simply a means to an end, rather than thinking, aware individuals who need to be cultivated, not coerced.
Another example of an inconsistent message is board members and/or senior management personnel who “support” grassroots and PAC involvement, but never attend grassroots and PAC events, and even worse (but very common) don’t even contribute to the PAC.
Volunteers know by what our management does not do whether they are true believers in the value of grassroots and PAC involvement. Canceling regular grassroots training conferences, allowing frontline supervisors to dictate the dissemination of grassroots and PAC communications, and failure to respond to calls to action all communicate a dearth of support for grassroots and PAC efforts. Support means more than just a budget and an office.
Another inconsistent message is proclaiming that “you can make a difference,” and then telling volunteers that they have to give political money to be an effective grassroots advocate. A client told me the disturbing story of a grassroots “expert” who actually told their advocate audience: “If you haven’t given a financial contribution to your legislator, don’t expect to get an appointment with him.”
This spurious conclusion got their attention, but in the worst way. Of course there are some lawmakers who use financial contributions as a time management model, but most do not. When staff tells their volunteers, “You make a difference,” but the “expert” tells these same volunteers that “You can’t make a difference unless you contribute money” clearly attenuates trust.
Stay tuned for part 4…