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Associations are a driving force that progress industries forward. They have many responsibilities to their members and the industry they represent, such as providing research and data, organising industry events aimed at driving meaningful business relationships and educating members on the news impacting their industry.
One of the benefits an association provides is their ability to lobby to governments so they can advocate for policies that directly favour the industry they represent. By equipping employees with quality market research, associations have the resources they need to make a case for policy enactment and reform.
In this post, we will cover how to construct a sound argument to promote your association’s initiatives when lobbying to the government.
The number of government policies that directly affect your members can be overwhelming. Knowing what issues to focus on can change daily, especially in this current political climate. As a government affairs professional at an association, how do you make sure that you are lobbying for issues that are top of mind to your constituents?
Legislation impacts organisations – large and small. Having a line of communication between a government affairs team and your members is essential to know where to focus your time. Through developing meaningful, fact-based arguments and support, you can ensure that the issues being lobbied by the government affairs team are relevant to your association’s interests.
Reaching a consensus on which issues to bring to legislators is an important component of association advocacy work. Working alongside industry committees and your board of directors will help you determine where to start when establishing your association’s platform.
A benefit of being a membership-based organization is having direct access to the people in the industry you represent. Developing a well thought out information campaign or survey helps you understand the different issues impacting your industry and what keeps your members up at night.
Feedback from your members on what matters to them combined with input from organisational leadership will allow you to narrow down your policy focus. Using this insight with industry committees demonstrates that your organisation knows the issues your members are interested in and helps you develop a research plan and talking points when working with legislators.
There are an abundance of policy think tanks, educational institutions that conduct research and thought pieces on the effects of enacted legislation. Doing background research will help you understand the overall impact of policies and why they could potentially cause problems for your members and your industry.
In today’s data-driven world, there is no shortage of information to assist in creating an argument. With this in mind, once your team has a platform to lobby from, it is critical for your association to develop evidence to support your initiatives.
Choosing the right data and talking points is key to being a successful advocate for your cause. Common economic indicators like GVA (Gross Value Add), unemployment rates, wage rates and industry growth are good places to start when looking for data. Information like this can help your organisation develop a better understanding of the economic climate and current business cycle to support your case when working with policymakers.
Information is not always readily available to support your claims. In these instances, associations may need to turn to running their own policy assessment internally. Associations are able to make more impactful arguments by showing the effect enacted policies will have on your industry. Government affairs and research teams can build economic models and impact analyses to demonstrate your association’s arguments. Creating the type of hard data and evidence through economic modelling that shows how legislation will hurt or benefit your industry strengthens your arguments as you seek the support of lawmakers. When internal resources are exhausted, and you need more data to build your case, partner with a third party market research provider to help fill in the missing gaps in your argument.
As you build arguments to support your initiatives, a market research firm can provide an independent voice to help make your case stronger by mitigating biases in the results. A market research provider will often have a team of analytics experts to provide the data you are missing, help you make sense of the data and assist with building economic models to make your advocacy efforts more effective.
As your association works to lobby for and against policies, remember these steps covered above. Use surveys to gain member consensus on what policies to pursue. Then build a strong case through internal and external research to deliver fact-based arguments to lawmakers. This will help position your association to be the voice fighting for the betterment of your members and your industry. To read more about how market research can help your association, click here: Best Practices Industry Associations.
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