Measuring and Proving the Value of Your Association PAC
The Public Affairs Council receives numerous requests throughout the year for assistance in demonstrating the value of public affairs, government relations, or specific programs to the overall success of associations. In today’s tough economic reality, it’s become critical to prominently exhibit and prove your political action committee’s value to your organization’s management and to the bottom-line of your association – before you find that you have to. Below are a few basic tips to help you measure and trumpet your value to the powers that be:
Have a presentation ready: Just like any other function of business, you are trying to “sell” your PAC and its value. Have your talking points, statistics and success stories available for immediate viewing, if need be.
Highlight PAC Involvement in the System: PACs still remain the primary, legal and transparent means of political fundraising through your organization. With just under 995 FEC registered association PACs at the beginning of 2009, your association will want to keep its political programs established and healthy to make sure your voice is heard through the crowd!
Compare yourself to your competition: You can easily access the size of your top competitors’ PACs online. Oftentimes this information is enough to prove your value as your association doesn’t want to be seen as “lagging behind” others in your industry. Don’t forget to check member company PACs, your advocates and associated groups, as well as your rivals.
Use your industry to your advantage: If you’re heavily regulated, then all the more reason for you to be politically involved. Relay the number of issues and pieces of legislation dealing with your top interests as a side bar of the importance of being active. As we recently witnessed, the government can step in and completely reshape the fabric of an organization in a matter of days. Use the PAC’s ability to educate these decision makers as a tool to prove your value.
Keep an internal record of positive feedback: If you have vocal advocates who are members of your PAC, collect and utilize their positive comments (with permission), success stories and praise for the work the PAC does. Have a good quote from a politician? Use that too. Oftentimes, senior management just needs to hear from someone other than the PAC manager that the program is successful and useful to the association.
Answer the critics before they speak up: Have a document already prepared to answer the questions that may come up – Aren’t political donations from organizations considered dirty politics? How does political money help our association? Feel free to pass this Q&A piece out to your senior management as an educational tool before they ask the questions themselves.
Stress Your Value: Focus your measurement on your value, instead of stating your case as a defense. This value can include relationship building in the legislature and the community, informing the public/media about the association’s interests, educating employees and members, legislative successes – as well as member motivation and activity on behalf of the company.
Make Your Message Ongoing: Most importantly, you will want to continuously prove your value to senior management. By providing them with monthly updates on progress, successes and first-hand accounts of how you made a difference, your PAC will always be on their radar screen with continuous, positive coverage of your accomplishments.
How can you do this? Let executives know when you update your web site with new information or resources. Find your way onto the senior management meeting agenda, every time, so that you can personally relay information on what the PAC is up to and how it is making a difference. Make sure they get special and personalized invitations to your good-government events or other PAC-sponsored activities. And finally, don’t hesitate to solicit their advice on administrative and other decision-making opportunities. If they play a part in the process, they can build a sense of ownership in the program. This ongoing education can save you from having to save the day – and your job – in a flash.