Advocacy - Legislative Action Plan
Believe it or not - you are already involved in government relations!
Goals And Purpose
Every trade or profession has policy interests it would like to advance, preserve, or protect. The role of the NCYS in government relations is to communicate the perspectives and views of the members to officials in the legislative and executive branches of government. These views are be based on the members' technical or professional knowledge and the needs of the industry. The NCYS also seeks partnerships with other groups to team-up on key industry issues thereby strengthening our effectiveness.
We believe we have a right and a responsibility to educate legislators and other government officials about issues affecting members' businesses and professions. Our goal may be simply to make information available; in other instances, the goal may be to achieve a specific outcome on a bill or regulation.The NCYS has useful knowledge to share information through a huge network reaching more than 52 million youngsters in organized youth sports programs. That field expands to coaches, parents, and officials as well as national, regional, state and local administrators. This is a circle of influence that provides an excellent way of advancing the specific issues and key legislative matters affecting our industry.
Government relations programs can be informational, reactive, proactive, or a mix. the NCYS is prepared to put forth legislation, respond to legislation that has already been introduced, mobilize grassroots volunteers when a bill is approaching final action, or commenting on published regulations. We are prepared to provide input to lawmakers, especially those on the committees or subcommittees that work on fine-tuning bills. We are also prepared to be proactive government relations partners with other groups by initiating legislation and providing input for laws and regulations as they are written.
Issues Identification And Analysis
Spotting issues of potential interest or concern -- and providing expert analysis of their potential effect on the industry and its members -- is usually a reactive activity that involves monitoring hearings, bills, and proposed regulations. It can also mean working within the industry to determine areas of need for legislative or regulatory action that the industry might promote. The NCYS often relies on the authority of industry experts to inform and educate the NCYS on these key issues forecasting the issues. In turn NCYS responds with its powerful ability to collect the data necessary and check the pulse of the grassroots initiative. NCYS uses its influence to then develop the appropriate strategies for participating in key issues and then putting the plan into action.
The views conveyed to government on behalf of the NCYS are seen as two levels of statements with different approval chains; one for the organization as a whole and one for subordinate groups within the organization. Subordinate group statements are useful when a diversity of expertise and interests are required within a specific topic. NCYS is capable of targeting and performing results as a whole as well as within a subordinate group.
Interactions with government officials may be through letters, telephone calls, face-to-face meetings, or formal testimony. Whatever the means, the NCYS is prepared to provide a constructive, considerate, reliable approach from the onset though to the follow-up. This political campaigning addresses issues such as youth sports programs, facilities, parks, crime prevention, land and water, physical fitness, etc. Our goal is to raise the profile as a strong and effective advocate of the issues affecting the youth sports industry.
Letter Writing Campaign
As we all know, the letter (mailed, faxed, or e-mailed) is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. Although since September 11th, fax or email has taken preference. As the national headquarters clearinghouse for youth sports, NCYS provides an effective sample one-page action letter as well as legislative alerts for our members to reach into the grassroots membership and address their respective representatives.
Whenever appropriate a telephone campaign is implemented in order to secure a successful lobbying effort.
Personal visits with legislators, their staff, or executive branch officials are a very effective way to convey our message about a specific issue or legislative matter. When NCYS holds its Legislative Summit or has group site visits, it sets appointments in advance determining who will meet with which member or committee staff in order to achieve our joint purpose. The NCYS briefs each individual with a clear and concise message demonstrating the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation. The NCYS provides information and materials as handouts supporting our position, and leave stating how our group can be of assistance to him or her, and ask for a commitment of support.
Town meetings provide a perfect opportunity to debate and inform the public on specific issues. They also provide an ideal forum for our members to advocate policies with a controlled captive audience. This type of event provides an excellent opportunity from information sharing to collaborative action. It is NCYS's responsibility to solicit its members and to research when and where the town meetings are being held. The NCYS further encourages its colleagues to participate in the town meetings with public officials in order for legislators to better understand our concerns as well as creating interaction and awareness.
Oral testimony is an important and more formal method for communicating the industry's view to government. When appropriate, NCYS provides an approved position statement, the necessary facts, and provides oral testimony from its constituents of members knowledgeable about the issues. This may be an administrator, coach, parent, volunteer, a celebrity athletic or whoever best advocates our issue. NCYS identifies "key contacts" to testify, educate them with all the facts on the issue at hand, and make all necessary arrangements.
MEMBER INVOLVEMENT/ INFORMING MEMBERS
Although the collective voice of the NCYS works most effectively for some government interactions, individual legislators want to hear from their own constituents. Ongoing communication with participants is essential to a network's success. NCYS encourages its members to develop relationships with their elected representatives. A "site visit" - when a member invites government officials to their facility as a means of increasing understanding of our industry and the importance of our issues. In order to maximize the public's understanding of our interests, inviting local media to these events will be encouraged as well. Delivering people to testify, participating in press conferences, appearing in media interviews are examples of ways the NCYS takes action on issues.
Electronic options have greatly enhanced the timeliness and usefulness of government relations communications. Although newsletters are our mainstays, updates via broadcast fax and e-mail are used to supplement or replace print communications when appropriate. Computer bulletin boards and Internet list services on government relations topics not only can give members an opportunity to comment on issues but can also provide us with insights into members perspectives.
Speakers, Briefings, And Training
Providing the proper information to our members is critical. Opportunities to educate may be via training in government relations techniques, presentations, seminars, conferences, and/or round tables on specific issues. The NCYS Annual Meeting and Leadership Training Conference is a typical event where we educate our members. Typical topics include: informing our members about current issues, providing training and insider tips on the techniques of conveying a message to a member of Congress, and providing a handbook on "How to Meet with Members of Congress."
This project is a high-level commitment project and its support is articulated in the NCYS Strategic Plan as well as its Marketing Plan and Business Plan. The NCYS looks forward to increasing its political effectiveness in joint partnership with other groups. Relationships, trust, influence, effectiveness, confidence, dependability, credibility are all traits necessary for high ethical standards. They are also earned over time. We look forward to sharing that trust with our advocacy partners and together creating a powerful team of political influence.
Since August 1998, we have been delivering our circle of influence and support by:
- Successfully being named as a pilot program participant in the PROTECT Act.
- Lending our support to the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR).
- Producing an action alert letters to Congress regarding the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) "
- Delivering an individual to give testimony.
- Generating a letter writing campaign.
- Educating our members on political issues through the NCYS "Youth Sports Today" newsletter.
- Campaigning for the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) bill for a $30,000,000 appropriation to the state and local parks.
- Initiating a political campaign in the grassroots community whereby members participate in Town Meetings advocating issues regarding youth sports programs, facilities, parks, crime prevention, land and water, physical fitness, etc.
- Identifying key people in the states and districts of key members of Congress to join our government relations advocacy team specifically supporting such issues as the LWCF and CARA by protecting the availability of fields, courts, rinks, playgrounds, etc.
- Bringing people into Washington DC to testify before Congress and/or its committees.
- Producing letters of support as requested.
- Originating a handbook on "How to Meet with Members of Congress".
- Providing advocacy outreach in the local, state, county levels of government (e.g.: Mayors and Governors) where key markets has been identified.