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A New Year, A New Congress: Crafting Your Advocacy Strategy For The 116th Congress

Today is the first day for the 116th Congress. It’s a unique day – not just because Congress will be sworn in during a partial government shutdown, but because it is welcoming the largest Freshman class since 1993. This group is not only historic for its size but also for its diversity:

Freshman Class at a Glance:
  • 100 Freshmen: 66 Democrats, 44 Republicans
  • Average age: 49
  • 42 are women
  • 23 are people of color
  • 22 served in the military or CIA
  • 70% attended graduate school
The 116th Congress is also set to be one of division and fierce debate as Democrats take the House, dividing control of government. The shutdown over the funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall is likely to be just the first of many battles to be played out.

Infrastructure, climate change and healthcare are poised to be equally large battles. And they will all be played out as the parties jockey for positioning for the 2020 Presidential elections.

What does this mean for advocacy in 2019? You have to jump in right now!

Say Hi!
With 100 new members, January and February is a critical time for you to introduce your organization -- and your issues -- and begin cultivating new champions on Capitol Hill.

In person.
  • Set up informational meetings with new members and their staff
  • Make these visits stand out more by delivering welcome messages and/or statements of support for issues from your supporters in the members’ home district
  • Use Luminate advocacy web forms to send welcome messages
  • Create a survey to share your supporters’ priorities
  • Build a social media campaign to welcome the new members to start building a relationship with the new members.

The 116th Congress is an incredibly diverse group and to be successful you need to get to know these members and what messages will resonate with them.
  • Listen to what Members are saying using tools like Google Alerts or get more granular with Blackbaud can help you monitor how, and if, they are talking about your issues. And it can be configured to send yourself automated alerts when key terms are mentioned. Listening to what Members are saying will position you to be able to engage when they talk about your issues.
  • Follow popular hashtags that Members use. Start by going to Instagram and Twitter and simply scanning through the Members’ posts to see which hashtags they’re using. And you can use tools like to find trending hashtags to stay on top of what issues are socially relevant.

Get Loud & Be Heard
Expect a lot of political noise in 2019. To be heard in this climate, you need to turn up the volume. In addition to social listening and meeting your Members in person and online, use these strategies to amplify your voice:
  • Organize your Influencers
    Leverage Luminate Beta’s social insights to identify your most influential supporters to recruit as ambassadors for your messages. Influencers can help broaden your audience and drive action.
  • Get Louder: Post-advocacy Share Kit
    A crucial part of engaging supporters is giving them relevant next steps… build momentum! Our latest Responsive Advocacy Kit shows you how to create "a share on social and donate form" to drive more action in your advocacy alerts. 
  • Be Multichannel: Use Social Media and Call Alerts to go Beyond the Petition
    • Use Luminate's "Tweet @ your Representative" functionality to help supporters use Twitter to contact their reps. 
    • Add Call Alerts to make it super easy for Supporters to call their Members. After placing a call, constituents can log that call so you have a record of it.
  • Make sure your advocacy alerts are mobile responsive.
    Use our free toolkit to create mobile responsive one-step advocacy alerts. These alerts will look and work great on any device, from a mobile phone to a desktop computer. 

Blackbaud is here to help
At Blackbaud, we understand that effective Advocacy is critical to your success. And we are here to help!
  • We will make sure your supporters can reliably reach their Members. Working with our partners and data vendors we get updated target data as new officials take office. We process and validate the contact updates and push them to Luminate Online to ensure the advocacy data within your site is accurate. Check our Advocacy Community blog for news of the latest elected official updates.
  • We want to connect you with your peers to understand what advocacy techniques are working with the new Congress. On Monday, January 28th, join your advocacy peers from Bread for the World, WildEarth Guardians and the AARP in a roundtable. We’ll discuss challenges and opportunities, advocacy goals for the year and how each organization plans to keep advocates engaged this year.
    Join your Peers:  Register for Advocacy in the 116th Congress
    Monday, January 28, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. ET

  • Check out our Raise & Engage resource hub for campaigners, organizers, and advocacy pros looking to transform influence into impact so you can make your mark on the 116 Congress!
Posted by Erik Leaver on Jan 3, 2019 7:00 AM America/New_York

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Great info Erik Leaver‍! 
  • Posted Mon 14 Jan 2019 03:26 PM EST
Great article, Erik Leaver‍.  The webinar on the 28th looks like some great info too.  Thanks for sharing this great information.
  • Posted Tue 15 Jan 2019 11:17 AM EST