Is money so tight that you’re receiving pre-declined credit card offers in the mail? Are you a CEO who’s been relegated to mini golf? You’re not alone. More than five years after coming out of the Great Recession, dozens of states struggle to close budget gaps. But if you want to fund research, services for the homeless, programs for youth, or jobs programs for returning soldiers, you’ll need to convince policymakers to pony up funding for the programs you care about, regardless of budgets. But how?
One of the most important things I’ve learned working on policy is that you need to do as much work for policymakers and their staff as possible. Assume they do not have the answers and that people who work in different parts of government on the exact same topic do not speak to one another. That’s not because policymakers and their staff are slackers, it’s because they have so many competing priorities. Many people in government do the work of more than one person, so you should be prepared to make the complete case for why your program merits funding above others, and show with exacting detail how your program will pay for itself.
An economist in your field can help you determine how your program will save money and be self-funding. If you don’t have money to spend on an economist, consider finding graduate students at a university to partner with you to draft an economic report. Your report must address jobs gained or lost and/or saving tax dollars.
But economic language is only half the work of an economic report. Once the data people work their magic, you need communications people to work theirs. Because effective communication is the transfer of emotions, not facts, your economic report needs to be presented in language regular people understand and connect with. Factoids should be framed in easy-to-relate-to terms, like “so many miles of logging roads that they could stretch to the moon and back” or “alcohol is priced lower than milk or juice.” Once you have your digestible economic report, use it to create your few talking points, one-pager and other essential communications tools. Remember, you aren’t dumbing down your issue, you’re making it accessible to really busy people.
What have you done to make your economic argument? I always love to hear from you.
And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.
One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.
- The 10 steps of power mapping
- The questions to ask and where to find answers
- Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers
- What coalitions do
- Who to recruit
- How to pick the best coalition name
- Attracting diverse coalition partners
- Leadership & structure of coalitions