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The Future of Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Efforts

ACCE Webmaster on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 3:56:00 pm

Nearly five centuries ago, the political philosopher Machiavelli said, "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

Even five centuries later it is still a difficult and uncertain task to introduce a new thing.   For some chambers of commerce, adopting an effective advocacy program is a new thing, fraught with difficulty and uncertainty.

However, I believe that the future calls for chambers to be the very best at representing their member’s interests with government. That demands an unprecedented investment of time and effort by chambers in implementing a government affairs program or taking their current program to an even higher level.

As President of Chamber Advocacy, a professional firm that builds government affairs programs, I am fortunate to be part of award-winning advocacy programs that serve as a model in our industry. That model is based upon a belief that chambers of commerce must build advocacy programs that empower their membership and increase their relevance in public policy discussions and decision-making.

To that end, I believe that an effective government affairs program is founded on four basic principles:

1. Tracking pertinent local and state legislation and issuing vote records on local elected officials as it relates to business.

2. Fostering grassroots involvement, from the board to the government affairs council, to develop and advocate the chamber's priorities.

3. Staff must serve as an advocacy resource for the chamber's membership always willing to represent the business point of view from city hall all the way to the halls of the statehouse.

4. Constant maintenance of communication strategies such as a Web site solely dedicated to advocacy efforts and the commitment of the entire front page of the chamber's newsletter to advocacy in every edition, all year long.

To learn more about the four principles of effective government affairs programs and get ideas and advice for how to energize your advocacy, look for my posts on the ACCE Policy Clearinghouse Blog.  Also, feel free to log in and post questions about your government affairs program.

- Shaun Lumachi

For more information about Chamber Advocacy click HERE.

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