Fight For Your Right to Exist!
Advocacy is all the rage right now. Black Lives Matter has been advocating for equal treatment from police since 2013. Women protested across the country for policies that protect the rights of women the day after the inauguration. Even scientists felt the need to make their voices heard at the March for Science held on Earth Day. Pepsi felt the need to get in on the action and was summarily told to sit down. Advocacy may be all the rage, but, it’s not effective if it’s not done right.
Whether you sit on a for-profit or nonprofit board, advocacy should be a part of your board responsibilities. Government has the ability to regulate a lot of aspects of the business that you do. And, your CEO may not have the time or bandwidth to advocate on behalf of your organization. That’s where board members step in. Here are some things to think about if your Board members choose to advocate for your organization and constituency.
Think About Your Bottom Line
It doesn’t matter if your organization is nonprofit or for-profit. Your organization should be run like a business. What regulations or governmental decisions are preventing you from doing serving your mission? The tech industry quickly understood that the current immigration debate could impact their bottom line. Having the ability to hire foreign-born workers is critical to the industry’s ability to continue to innovate and produce products and services that make our everyday lives better. If U.S. based companies are not able to compete for foreign talent, they will lose innovative advancements to other countries which will lead to a drop in revenue. In order to protect their bottom line, many tech companies are aligning themselves with organizations like FWD.us to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and education reform.
Don’t Go It Alone
After you decide your Board should advocate for a particular issue, do your research and partner with an existing organization instead of trying to create something new and go it alone. Find places where your pain points intersect with someone else’s pain points. Is your organization concerned about loss of government grants to Superfund cleanup sites? Partner with employers and municipalities to demonstrate how toxic sites reduce the economic vitality of your region, state, or city. Start locally. Partner with local organizations that share the same results even though they may be in different industries. Lend your board members to talk, write letters, and make calls to decision makers to tell the story of how your organization is negatively impacted. Positioning your organization as a player in negotiations will raise the visibility of your organization while simultaneously advocating for your particular issue.
Use technology to keep you accountable. Resources like BillTrack50 and OneClick Politics are great to help you gain a better understanding of policy as well as report out to your board and customers your efforts. Make sure that, after you launch your board members to participate in advocacy issues, periodic reports are given to the full board and customers to keep track of the successfulness of your actions. Success in advocacy creates a sense of satisfaction that your organization had the ability to make change. Defeat in advocacy, while devastating, can also encourage members to try again in the future. Whether you win or lose, your board and customers need to informed of the results.
For more information on board governance and board diversity, follow along on Twitter or Instagram. Nikki McCord is the founder of McCord Consulting Group, the only choice for organizations looking to energize, innovate, and diversify their Board of Directors.