Every program you care about needs funding, whether it’s feeding people or protecting kids or funding research for life-saving drugs or saving songbirds. You can help direct Congress to spend money on programs you care about if you follow these steps.
- Determine which federal agency carries out the work of the program you want to see funded. Let’s say it’s the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research on cancer drugs for kids. You can see here what the current spending is. If you need help finding current spending levels on programs you care about, get in touch.
- Determine how much you think Congress should spend on that program. Be able to justify your reasoning with solid economic data about how increased program funding will pay for itself and save the government money in the long run. This needs to be really detailed and professional, as if you were presenting it to a congressional committee yourself.
- Consult with the relevant staff at the government agency to learn about what they think their spending levels should be and why. You may need to make your case to the agency first about why you feel they should spend their budget the way you want it spent.
- Identify and recruit people affected by the problem you’re trying to solve. In this example, it could be family and friends of pediatric cancer patients, health care providers and medical researchers. Teach them how this process works and why their participation is important.
- Identify who the Program Associate Directors (PAD) is for your issue within the Office of Management and Budget. OMB is part of the executive branch that, among other things, oversees the development, presentation, and defense of the President’s budget and helps the executive agencies and Congress implement that budget. You want that funding to get into the President’s budget because it’s easier to start with that money in the President’s budget than it is begging for scraps through a congressional earmark later.
- Meet with the PAD and walk him or her through your issue and funding request. Tell the PAD that there is a group of affected people who want to discuss the issue with him or her.
- Schedule a meeting between the affected people and the PAD, who might also bring the relevant OMB budget examiners into the conversation.
- Encourage and assist affected constituents to maintain relationships with OMB staff. Have them send letters of support to OMB (just like you should already be doing with the subcommittee chairs of the relevant appropriations subcommittees).
There’s more to it than this, but this will get you started. Start building these relationships immediately if you haven’t already. Start this process two years before you want to see the funding there. Tell me how it goes and how I can help.
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