#1: Hire A Lobbyist
There are many reasons hiring a lobbyist ranked #1 on our list. Here are a few:
Lobbyists Have Information.
It is important to be “in the know,” and good lobbyists are always asking contacts for updates, the inside scoop, and what members of Congress think on certain issues. Most lobbyists also pay thousands of dollars for subscription services like Congressional Quarterly, Quorum or Bloomberg Government, which provide valuable information and insight about what is going on in Congress.
Lobbyists Know Policy.
When a congressional staffer needs background about a policy or wants advice on writing a complex bill, they reach out to the people who know the issue best. For a congressional staffer who works on hundreds of policies at once, these “Subject Matter Experts” (SMEs) are extremely valuable resources. These policy experts can wield a lot of influence because Congressional staffers call them when they have a question on an issue or a specific piece of legislation. Lobbying firms have started paying SMEs lots of money to work for them and look out for their interests when they are working with staffers on their specific policy.
Lobbyists Have a Larger Reach Than the Average Citizen.
As a constituent, you have a lot of sway over your individual member of Congress. They listen to you because they want you to vote for them again the next time around. That being said, you only have influence over three offices: your representative in the House and your two senators. Good lobbyists have some amount of influence with a large number of elected officials, which can be extremely important when you are trying to navigate legislation through Congress.
Lobbyists Know The Committees.
Lobbyists have an in-depth understanding of the committee structure and have connections to the committee staffers, some of the most influential people in Congress. Committee staffers focus more on legislative initiatives and do not interact with constituents as much as staffers in the members’ personal offices. They are typically more influential because they work directly on the committee where laws impacting your issue are being formed.
Lobbyists Help Members of Congress Achieve Their Goals.
The best way to influence a member of Congress is to be seen as a partner and not an adversary. Lobbyists excel at this. They send timely emails to staffers with news from their district, they help get lawmakers’ legislation passed, and they support members of Congress in getting re-elected. They are seen as valuable partners, so members of Congress and staffers listen when they request a meeting to discuss a policy.
Lobbyists Know the System.
Lobbyists understand what matters to elected officials, their staff, and their unique constituent body. They know the party system, the different committee structures, and the role of the chairs. They know who the influential members are and how to influence them. Successful advocates know which offices their issue will resonate with and can save large amounts of time by focusing on what works and avoiding what doesn't.
Lobbyists Have Spent Years Building Relationships.
Whether the lobbyists my nonprofit worked with had maintained relationships they’d developed earlier in their careers or worked to build new ones, it was the one thing that separated them from everybody else.
These relationships enabled them to gain access to lawmakers at the most critical stages of the legislative process. Just having them at the meeting with us was a game-changer.
How To Do It Right?
Unless you have a couple thousand dollars lying around, you are probably not in a position to hire a professional. Typically, hiring a lobbyist would cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 per month! So why would we even include this section if nobody who reads this email can afford it?
Well, as Bob Dylan would say, the times, they are a-changin’!
In 2016, I saw a story online about Cards Against Humanity, the self-described “Party Game for Horrible People.” The makers of the game decided to hold a fundraiser on Giving Tuesday with the sole purpose of hiring bulldozers and excavators to dig a giant hole. Yes, you read that right: they raised money to rent equipment and hire workers to dig a hole.
Why did they do it? I have no idea. Were they successful? Yes, they raised over $100,000! Did I almost donate? Sure, I thought it was hilarious at first! Then I got pretty angry at the whole thing and ended up donating to a charity instead.
I got angry because everybody I talk to is so frustrated by all the money corporations spend on politics and how much influence they have over our elected officials. Seeing something so stupid raise over $100,000 made me think about all the things we could use that money for. And then it dawned on me: what if we used the power of small donations to hire lobbyists to work on our behalf?
So that is what we did. We built the first crowdfunding platform that allows everyday folks like you and me to hire professional lobbyists to work on our behalf. It’s simple really: anybody can create a campaign, and if it meets certain criteria, we will host it on our platform. If your campaign raises $5,000, we hire a professional lobbyist to work for you! We don’t take a cut of your donation. 100% of your money goes towards paying the lobbying fees.
The nonprofit is called Lobbyists 4 Good — because we know that if everyday people had access to lobbyists then we could begin to level.
There is no better way to influence Congress than to hire somebody to do it for you. There is a reason Lobbyists get paid a lot of money to influence Congress for their corporate clients.
Businesses that hire lobbyists to influence Congress on their behalf have seen a high return on their investment. One study examining lobbying found that businesses saw anywhere from 5,000% to 76,000% return on their investment through subsidies, tax breaks, and favorable regulatory policies.
At the end of the day, these policies were passed because there were people working full-time, to pressure Congress to pass them. As the old saying goes, if you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.