Lunchtime Links: When It’s Time for Professional Help

Why your members don’t always make the best lobbyists. Plus: How to upgrade your website on a budget.

Associations love getting their members involved in advocacy—and that’s understandable. Who better to tell the stories that can sway policy than the people who live them day in and day out? But there are times when the situation on Capitol Hill or in the statehouse calls for a more experienced skill set. The benefits of paid lobbyists, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links.

Paid advocate: There’s more to lobbying than relating personal stories about your organization’s cause—which is why your association would do well to hire a professional to advocate your mission, suggests self-proclaimed “Association Advocacy Chick” Stefanie Reeves on her blog. “[B]eing a lobbyist… is more than just knowing what the research says… It’s being politically savvy. It’s coalition building. It’s being able to respond to the ever-changing ways of Congress,” she writes. In other words, your organization needs a qualified person who knows the ins and outs of the legislative process. Does your organization work with legislative professionals, or does it rely largely on member stories to relate to lawmakers?

Rewards card: Airlines, credit cards, stores, hotels—there’s no shortage of customer loyalty programs. So why not add one for your association? The 2013 Maritz Loyalty Report found that, on average, people join roughly 7.4 loyalty programs—and remain active in a strong 63 percent of them, writes association consultant Steve Drake on his firm’s blog. Drake’s idea: Implement a “passport program,” allowing members to accumulate points that can be used toward free (or discounted) registration at your next conference event. Doing so would likely help boost engagement and encourage retention, he writes. How does your association promote loyalty among its members?

Code me affordable: Your website is the virtual home and one of the leading touch points of your association—even still, the prospect of dishing out thousands of dollars for a web designer to refresh your site might seem a little, well, excessive. Writing from Event Manager Blog, Anne Thornley-Brown offers six options for redesigning your website that won’t empty the wallet. Among her suggestions: Purchase HTML templates or WordPress themes. The predesigned packages require simple add-ons, rather than coding from scratch. For the HTML-savvy, programs like Dreamweaver or Microsoft WebMatrix allow easy viewing and manipulation of the code that powers your site. “The less you have to spend on hiring experts to complete simple tasks like site updates, the more you will own and control your brand,” Thornley-Brown writes. “You will also add thousands of dollars to your bottom line.” That would be nice.

What are you reading today? Tell us in the comments.


Emma Beck

By Emma Beck

Emma Beck is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!