The most basic principle of politics is that "all politics is local." That reality has never been more true than right now. Lawmakers across the country are flooded daily by special interest lobbyists who are not their constituents and can’t vote for them in elections. Lawmakers want to hear from their own constituents on important issues of the day and are more inclined to support a specific position if they have a relationship with an interested party or receive a great deal of feedback on an issue.
Grassroots advocacy is a form of advocacy which originates among individuals concerned about a specific issue. The goal of effective grassroots advocacy is to interact with elected officials and their staff members in the process of attempting to draw attention to a cause. People can participate in grassroots advocacy on many levels, ranging from writing letters to political leaders to organizing educational workshops for members of their community, but the goal is to make your voice heard by your elected official.
Grassroots strategies center around building relationships that can be maintained and strengthened over time so the prospects of sustained loyalty remain high. Because of the number of interests competing for their time, lawmakers most often rely on those they know well to help them gather information and make decisions. The more NAMIC’s members make contact with their legislators, the more those lawmakers will rely on our members for information during the decision-making process. It has been demonstrated that a vigorous grassroots program can strengthen an organization and sway the decisions of lawmakers and the outcome of a piece of legislation.
One can increase the effectiveness of your grassroots program in the following three general areas:
Learning the Key Issues
There are many political, legislative and regulatory challenges facing our industry. NAMIC’s staff can provide information to members interested in getting involved and learning more about the top issues of the day.
Letting Your Voice Be Heard
Legislators pay attention to public opinion and constituent concerns. Calls, letters, e-mails and faxes they receive from voters make a difference. We may be able to impact the outcome of certain legislative initiatives by harnessing the power of our members and their staff. Action alerts will be sent out when greater advocacy is needed to move or stop an issue. These will include talking points, sample letters and contact information for writing and phoning the respective elected officials.
Lawmakers take many meetings in their District offices. Schedule a meeting to introduce yourself or invite the legislator and their staff to your office. The more active members are, the more well known the industry becomes. Grassroots efforts can occur in a variety of ways, so attending town hall events, fundraisers or campaign events ensures that lawmakers know that you are engaged.