Showalter Group

Evidence-Based Approaches to Elevate PAC and Advocacy Results

a valuable resource to organizations that want to improve their PAC and grassroots effectiveness

What We Do:

Velocity Research Data and Analytics

Driving Increased PAC Contributions, Grassroots Engagement & Membership Growth

Do your stakeholders say they support your PAC, your advocacy initiatives, or your organization, yet don’t engage in the behaviors that show support?

Do you know which messages get traction with your audiences?

Do you know the messages that are the most and least powerful?

Certain situations lend themselves to optimal influence and can predict behaviors……do you know those situations in your organization?

Our approach gives you a competitive advantage.

Simple methods of research are available via your social media and web analytics that are built into the platform you are using. Everyone is using those methods, so you don’t have an advantage.

The competitive advantage comes from investing in more timely research, with deeper analysis. Our analysis reveals emerging patterns and relationships so that you can understand what’s happening in a more complete and comprehensive way.

Typical client research results uncover an average of eight independent variables that predict future behaviors of PAC prospects, grassroots advocates and elected officials.

Our PAC clients report that implementation of our research findings not only leads to improved fundraising results, but also accelerates their PAC fundraising results.

Velocity Research Speedometer ImgOur research investigates more than just averages and means. Inferential statistics work a bit like a radio on “seek” that automatically tunes to strong stations. It does that by comparing the amount of signal to background static and when the ratio is high, it says, “Aha, I’ve found a station,” and stops. Inferential statistics compare differences in central tendency (such as the mean) to variability (such as standard deviation) in a way that can locate genuine, meaningful findings – uncovering either differences or similarities with a great deal of precision, epending on the questions asked.

Velocity Research Precision

Our research methods give you forensic-like data: precise insights on the best messages, messengers, and mediums for your particular influence challenge, making your outreach less of a guessing game and more evidence-based.

Velocity Scientific Research

Our over 50 years of combined expertise in the political involvement profession and robust research methodology reveals the most parsimonious set of variables with the highest explanatory power. Depending on your research goals, you can uncover the most accurate messaging, behavioral, and situational distinctions between PAC contributors and non-contributors, those who contribute at the legal maximum versus those who contribute at lesser levels, the attitudinal differences between engaged advocates versus disengaged advocates, and/or engaged and disengaged association members, among any other type of behavioral distinction you need to better  understand.

Velocity Actionable Plans

After we analyze your data, we provide a written report and staff debriefing with all descriptive and inferential data points. We Include research applications – specific, actionable initiatives you can implement to greatly improve the outcomes of your next PAC campaign, grassroots program initiative or membership drive.

Velocity Research Client Results

Fundraising acceleration despite difficult economy “Although we have the largest PAC in our industry, today’s political climate requires that we have the most accurate  information as possible regarding how our members think about political engagement and PACs. Amy and Kelton’s research methodology helped us adjust our PAC messages to gain engagement from new and younger CIAB members, which is critical for any association wishing to expand their pool of contributors. Despite a difficult economic environment, our fundraising results are ahead of last year at this time.”
Gracie Gerlach

Associate General Counsel , The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers

Consistent PAC growth despite industry conditions “At International Paper, our culture encourages us to harness the best data and processes available to improve our results across our business units. As that relates to the IP PAC, I believe it’s important to consistently assess the attitudes of our contributors and non-contributors so that we can adjust our messaging accordingly. We have collaborated with Amy and Dr. Rhoads for years because their approach works! It’s not generic research, but highly collaborative and customized. Our PAC has consistently grown despite the ups and downs of the global economy and industry conditions.”

Meaghan Joyce

Senior Manager, Political and Advocacy Strategy, International Paper

New methods for PAC results “Historically we have experienced strong PAC results, but with major legislative issues on the horizon, we anticipated a need to bolster our efforts. I interviewed many PAC consultants who told me what I already knew: that we “needed a peer to peer campaign” (which we had executed in the past). Amy knew that the challenges went beyond basic PAC recruitment tactics and common off the shelf solutions. We integrated a scientific approach to uncovering the reasons our PAC eligibles do and don’t contribute to the PAC. We now know what works and what doesn’t when communicating about the PAC, as well as how to build goodwill with our contributors.”

Ken Hiscoe

Director, Government Relations, Pfizer, Inc.

Reached PAC goal a year early “We received great feedback on the PAC messages you helped us create, especially your coaching on how our executives can use their personal stories to encourage more PAC participation. We surpassed our election cycle fundraising goal and reached the next annual goal a year in advance! We are so excited to have elevated the PAC to new levels and brought so much awareness to the PAC and to our Government Relations Department. It was wonderful to work with you.”
Cassi Baker

Vice President of State Government Affairs, Cardinal Health

Customized Research Results Finds the “Magic Phrase,” Resulting in Annual PAC Growth

BNSF Railways has a vibrant, active base of PAC contributors. However, the PAC was experiencing attrition due to the retirement of over 120 contributors and wanted to mitigate the future reduction in PAC receipts. To accomplish this, the staff wanted to uncover the salient messages that motivated PAC contributions.   

BNSF engaged us to conduct research among contributors and non-contributors to determine whether long held assumptions about often-used PAC messages were true, and whether the millennial work force viewed the rationales for PAC contributions differently than other demographic groups.

Our Forensic Research methodology resulted in 12 new findings that can be incorporated into  PAC recruitment communications. Of note, one of the messages that was assumed to be the most popular and positive did not achieve significance among the respondents. We found a “magic phrase” that received incredibly high allegiance and buy-in from PAC prospects, which is being used to promote PAC contributions.   

Despite retirement attrition, the BNSF RailPAC achieved a 13% increase in contributions, representing $365,000 in new PAC money.  BNSF enjoys a 32% PAC participation rate among eligible employees, which ranks among the top 5% of corporate PAC participation rates.    

Customized research results in annual PAC growth “Our PAC has experienced consistent growth, but we believe it’s always important to conduct a periodic check up to ascertain our PAC’s health. Amy and Kelton partnered with us in a highly customized approach to design the research so that we had actionable data. It revealed key insights and debunked assumptions about our contributors and non-contributors that has guided our fundraising, resulting in ongoing annual PAC growth.”
Patricia Murphy

Manager, Legislative Affairs, BNSF Railway

Creating a New Message Narrative that Won a National Corporate Grassroots Campaign

A Fortune 300 company needed to overturn a 30-year law that prohibited their expansion into larger markets. Their opponent was a major industry competitor who outspent them 8 to 1 in advertising, lobbying, and grassroots advocacy. In addition, their opponent had been engaged in local, state and national organizations for thirty years longer than our client. While our client had lots of national, state, and local goodwill, and is consistently ranked as one of the best places to work, their opponent had deeper ties to the third-party groups that mattered in this influence campaign.

“Amy’s counsel as we developed our program has had lasting results. In fact, a recent employee grassroots campaign on major federal legislation resulted in over 13,000 personal letters to Members of Congress, helping to save our company millions of dollars a year. Our achievement was recognized and lauded by our company leaders. I attribute this to the solid organizational foundation and implementation strategies that we learned from Amy.”

Susan Goodman

Director Legislator Awareness, Southwest Airlines

We recommended that they take a research-based approach to determine prevailing public attitudes toward their legislative goal, as well as attitudes toward their opponents. We employed the Crossfire technique, which revealed that the economic arguments frequently used by the company to persuade citizens and legislators, while accurate and compelling, did not test as favorably as the messages we uncovered. Our messages generated more public empathy and understanding, and successfully positioned them as “David” to their opponent’s “Goliath.”

We counseled the staff to integrate the new messages into all advertising, grassroots advocacy and legislative communications, and designed a narrative turn-key presentation for staff and employee ambassadors. They carried the story to community groups, which resulted in new surrogates and supporters.

The result? Our client’s legislation was passed, their customer volume is up 20% in the targeted markets, and the overall growth has moved their Fortune 500 ranking up 33 spots.

Methodology Results in Changed Direction of Long-Term Reform Issue

A coalition of business interests was trying to move forward a major reform issue with national implications. They worked closely with prominent think tanks and policy experts, but their message was not getting traction, as the national mood was decidedly against their position.

One of the project directors was a prominent expert on the issue, employed by one the top think tanks in the country and made numerous media appearances with their message. However, when the issue failed in the Congress, we were hired to test the main arguments used to sell their issue. Some were skeptical and wondered if we could find anything that wasn’t already known and hadn’t already been tried.

What our testing showed was the main arguments generally used to ‘sell’ their issue fared poorly, but several other arguments that were not in wide use tested magnificently. It highlighted how little traction the most frequently given arguments were getting. After testing over 160 message frames, the new arguments were performing at 15:1 and 17:1 strongly agree to strongly disagree ratios in favor of the client’s position.

Coaching for Public Affairs Staff

Many of our consulting collaborations also evolve into coaching arrangements. However, we also provide specific coaching services for government relations professionals. We have coached individuals on how to deliver compelling presentations, which have resulted in more budget dollars and staff, how to manage time and resources, and also how to align their activities with their highest priority outcomes.

“Amy’s thorough and thoughtful approach to coaching enabled me to deliver a major presentation with great success and high impact results. Amy challenged me to highlight key points with proven techniques instead of just saying words. I’ve never delivered a presentation with so much confidence and credibility. Now, I have unprecedented support for my strategic plan and am working to build a movement within our grassroots program.”

Suzanne Pechilio Polis

Director, Integrated Issue Campaigns, AARP

National Non-Profit Advocacy and Government Relations Staff Development

For the American Heart Association, we evaluated existing grassroots recruitment and motivation strategies. We then designed workshops that resulted in a shift from a focus on quantity to emphasize quality grassroots advocate recruitment and motivation. The project was cited by management as “changing our volunteer management culture.” The organization has embraced a new volunteer management structure in alignment with the new quality focus.

For the American Farm Bureau Federation, we delivered our research-based Fortune “Power 25” benchmarking workshop to their State Membership Directors. We have conducted several workshops for the American Farm Bureau Federation staff.  At their 2022 Staff Institute, we conducted a workshop based on another of our proprietary research projects that reveals why quality advocates burn out and how to prevent them from leaving grassroots programs. Several of the state bureau’s now have a plan to reinvigorate their grassroots networks.

For the American Chemical Council, we delivered a workshop for their member company lobbyists on how to use the science of influence to ethically persuade legislators and coalition partners. These professional lobbyists now have even more influence tools to persuade legislators.

“I learned how to approach someone who may be opposed to our issue and turn them around. Amy is knowledgeable, credible and likeable.”

Barbara Little

Ethyl Corporation

“The scientific information on why so many people rely on what others are thinking before making a decision was very valuable. I will use this information to lobby more effectively.”

Claude Boudrias

American Chemical Council

For the Advocacy Managers of the National Audubon Society, we delivered Myers-Briggs (MBTI) analysis, presentation skills training, oral narrative development, and advocate recruitment training. The staff is now more confident, motivated, and they have a recruiting focus in concert with the organization’s grassroots priorities.

“This represented the first time our organization ever achieved this type of attention from candidates during campaign season. Best of all, we did it through real people, thus enhancing our credibility with candidates and lawmakers.”

Catherine Grant

Director (Formerly), National Audubon Society

Get In Touch

Get In Touch