By Trey Richardson
Over the last several weeks, political fundraising has declined due to the stressful and uncertain circumstances COVID-19 has created for our country.
To help you work through these challenges, I am sharing a few core strategic ideas and practical activities that I have used to alleviate the pressure for PAC professionals during times like these. Last week, I shared the importance of program infrastructure.
This week, I will explain step two: Culture Matters.
Create a digital environment:
Connecting with peers: With the absence of in-person engagement, it is paramount to create a robust digital environment to replicate a strong sense of your organization’s culture and engagement. Supplant peer connecting and industry learnings that would usually occur through face-to-face activities with virtual or online channels. This will allow your employees and members to maintain their connections with your government affairs team and PAC.
Information sharing: While distance working has limited normal interactions, information sharing is at an all-time high. To determine how best to share information and what content to push out, look to your industry or company culture for what your constituents will value most. Think through how the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically impacted your organization’s reality and move forward with communications from there.
Be a leader:
Among your donors and prospects: Right now, your activists are looking for a leader to guide them through an uncertain time. In a period where everything feels unpredictable, you need to be reliable and accountable. Tell your activists exactly what is happening, when it will happen and what the impact will be this election cycle – not only for the business but for them personally. It’s your job to build and/or maintain a culture of trust and transparency for your PAC.
To Congress: Members of Congress, their staff and their campaign teams are also seeking fundraising leadership. Many are nervous about raising the necessary campaign dollars and don’t know how to run elections when they can’t turn people out to vote. Be transparent with them and fill the gap by scheduling virtual candidate interviews and donor meetings.
Keep up morale:
Engage your audience: As important as the serious side of information sharing is, keeping up your activists’ morale. It is just as crucial to maintaining the culture they joined the PAC for in the first place. Schedule fun virtual meetings with your donors and prospects such as happy hours, contests, and show and tells. Staying in touch through these light-hearted meetings will build goodwill in the long term and keep your program relevant in the short term.
Speak to your stakeholders: It is vital to ensure your stakeholders understand the new reality for your PAC this year – this applies to major donors specifically. Be sure to gauge their personal situations as well so you understand their mindsets in this crisis. Once your plan for your program is in place, pick up the phone and let your stakeholders know the new reality. They will appreciate being kept in the loop, and you will create loyalty.
Delegate responsibilities to your board:
Test for future leaders: Now is the time to get your board of directors involved and build a culture of leadership and engagement. As a PAC professional, your plate is full right now. Share your duties by reaching out to your board members and asking them to take on a more active role in your program. The ones who step up will show that they have the potential to be useful future leaders based on their actions, rather than judging solely on seniority.
Steps to take: Here are a few examples of responsibilities you can delegate to your board:
1. Drafting articles, emails and other communications.
2. Hosting townhalls, webcasts and training programs for peers.
3. Facilitating policies, budget decisions and orientations.
I hope you found these tips helpful. As you implement changes for your program, remember to keep your culture in mind. Look out for my next article on how to demonstrate the value of your organization during times of crisis.
Trey Richardson is managing partner of Sagac Public Affairs and GR Pro, national firms that provide communications, market research, fundraising, issue advocacy and independent expenditure solutions to hundreds of political, nonprofit and corporate organizations.