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YES, and you should. More than 75% of a health centers’ budget is determined by federal, state and local government’s decisions. However, there are limits to what non-profits can do. First of all, you cannot use ANY federal funds to lobby. Second, you should keep lobbying expenses below 5% of your organization’s time and effort.
There are two types of lobbying, and health centers should use both when appropriate. Direct lobbying means you are communicating directly with the official’s office. Grassroots lobbying means you are urging others to communicate with an official. Both are critical to making an impact with your elected official.
Health Center Advocacy 101
Health Center Advocacy 101
This presentation includes…1. Defining “lobbying”2. Understand legal do’s anddon’ts for 501(c)3 non-profits3. Learn practical plansfor implementingsuccessful grassrootsoutreach and impact4. Understand the power and importance of grassroots!
Can Health Centers Lobby? YES!• You cannot use ANY federal funds to lobby• Keep lobbying expenses below 5% of your organization’s time and effort
Elected official decisions areimportant to CHCs and CHC patients Other Grants/ Contracts 10% Medicaid/CHIP Income 29% Sources for Federal Health Centers 28% Medicare 6% Self Pay State Private 13% 12% 2%
What Is Lobbying?Advocating theenactment or defeatof pending orproposed federal,state, or locallegislation orreferendum.
Two types of lobbying:1) Direct lobbying: Communicating directly withthe official’s office
Two types of lobbying: 2) Grassroots lobbying: Urging others to communicate with an official
What is advocacy?• Acting in support ofa belief, policy, orcause.• Giving voice on behalf of another.• The support or recommendation of policy.
The Rules: Dos and Don’tsDO DON’T Voter Registration x Endorse a candidate for office Voter Education x Give resources to candidates Distribute Sample Ballots, Guides x Rate candidates on your issue Co-sponsor Candidate Forums x Tell people how to vote Educate the Candidates Remind People to Vote Help on Election Day Recruit Poll Workers Support or Oppose Ballot Questions
What is your #1 goal when youmeet with an elected official?To get them to rememberthat they actually metwith you!
Goals1. Can someone get the target on the phone?2. Can you get the target to your center (how often)?3. How often is the center in the media?4. How many local organizations/elected officials do something CONCRETE to support you?5. How many grassroots advocates do you have? How active are they?6. How many voters have you registered? Do they vote?7. How much of what you ask your targets for do you get?
Effective AdvocacyEffective advocacy has one requirement: ACTIONSimply discussing issues, challenges, and plans is NOT effectiveadvocacyTo be an effective advocate & attain your goals you MUST Make advocacy an ongoing commitment and priority Translate discussions, plans, andpassions into moveable actions Make your voice and perspective heard and understood
Effective Advocacy = PowerGrassroots advocacy is about BUILDING POWER Power is NOT measured by the number of advocates on a list Power is NOT measured by the number of small (or even large) victories we win Power must be measured by our ability to successfully advance our own agenda and to make it unthinkable that any other political or special interest would ever want to take us on.
Organizing Grassroots Advocacy1. Advocacy Has to be an Organizational Commitment The Board Must Take the Lead – a formal commitment to time and resources is essential. Create an Advocacy Committee with a Chair – Board and staff need to be included.2. Advocacy Has Rules Know the Rules. It’s hard to break the rules, but you can do it if you don’t know what they are.3. Advocacy Needs to be done Face to Face Plan to get your local, state and federal officials (and their staff) to your Center on a regular basis4. Advocacy Needs Numbers
Organizing Grassroots Advocacy5. Advocacy Needs a MegaphoneLearn how to use the media6. Advocacy Needs FriendsLook for ways to reach out to otherorganizations in your communityon a regular basis7. Advocacy Needs VotesEmpower your health center by making sureyour patients and staff are registered to vote and that they vote!8. Advocacy Doesn’t Stop When the Whistle BlowsYour goal is to build permanent power to influence any issue that affects your center, at any level of government.
Relative Effectiveness of AdvocacyCommunications1. A visit to your health center2. A personal meeting back home3. A personal meeting in Washington4. Personal telephone calls5. Personalized Letters (faxed)6. Personalized emails7. Template emails (ineffective unless in volume)
Taking ActionNothing Beats Face To Face Advocacy – Get in front of elected officials andget them to your health centerPersonal Stories Matter - Collect compelling stories from patients and staffNot Everyone Has A Computer - Petitions and letters give everyone a chanceto advocateFor Those Who Are Online – Ask for theirhelp! Use social media to share action alertsVote! – Encourage others to vote, too
Speaking of Taking Action…Campaign For America’s Health Centers sends Action Alert emailsso YOU can connect with your elected officials to ask them to helpyour health center with funding and other policy matters. 1) SIGN UP to receive action alert emails http://www.saveourchcs.org/join-the-campaign.cfm 2) TAKE ACTION when you receive an email! 3) ASK OTHERS to sign up and take action, too!
Contact us!Send your health center grassroots advocacyquestions to firstname.lastname@example.org