Membership

Membership Hack: Micro-Advocacy

By / Apr 21, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Asking regional members to take action on micro-advocacy efforts could result in big payoffs—both for your issue and in member engagement.

How to hack it? The Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) is relatively small but has a large footprint: Its roughly 800 members are spread across the United States, in cities and states where the short-term rental market is heating up. Right now, many of those jurisdictions are considering or have passed regulations on vacation rentals, says Greg Holcomb, VRMA’s government relations manager. That led him to launch a new advocacy network, which asks members to get involved in small but effective ways.

Holcomb calls it “micro-advocacy.” Members opt in using an online registration form, and they are alerted by email whenever there’s an opportunity to participate as a local advocate. The program is about one year in, and so far, it’s been responsible for more than 2,700 direct contacts with elected officials and their appointed staff.

Why does it work? VRMA activates members based on their ZIP code, and advocacy requests can be as simple as attending a town hall meeting or writing a letter to a local representative. Holcomb says that any association can do “micro-advocacy” so long as they have willing members and a Google alert to track an issue. The payoffs can be huge, Holcomb says. “In Denver, we were able to send more than 1,000 messages to the city council,” he says. “Almost 90 percent of those were from nonmembers who took action after seeing the message shared and posted by our members on social media.”

What’s the bonus? In the end, VRMA lost the legislative fight with Denver’s city council but won buy-in from highly engaged members. In many instances, member are banding together to continue fighting for important issues. “We didn’t necessarily win the battle,” Holcomb says. “But we gained a group of on-the-ground people who can show up to meetings and follow up on our advocacy efforts.”

Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. More »

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