July 21, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 2 "Political Synergy"

Merriam Websters Online Dictionary defines synergy as "a combined action or operation." A second definition is "a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)."

I have read and heard how the builders association is a special interest group. If building homes where people live and create memories, or earning a living to provide for your family, is a special interest well I would agree. I believe a career in the home building and remodeling industry is very special and we need more members to participate in order for our industry to thrive again. 
Part 2 of our series on political fundraising will focus on "The Process" which is how our HBA staff, along with engaged members, work within the legislative arena to protect and promote home building and home remodeling. This is an important message to understand as you make your ask for investments in the PAC. Keep in mind, that the legislative process may be different from state to state but not by much. I will focus on Washington, DC and you can design your message for your state. I will be abbreviating certain areas but the message should come across.

Part 2 "Political Synergy"

Let's start this post with what is a PAC and we will work our way into the grassroots parts in a moment so you can see the make up of political synergy.

PAC stands for a Political Action Committee and most, if not all, industries have one or multiple. Each state HBA and multiple local HBAS have their own political action committee with different acronyms but the purpose is the same; to have members of the HBA invest in the building industry's protection and growth. With an industry as highly regulated as ours you better believe, like you believe you need air to breath, that politics affects everything the builder does.  As an example, I will focus on NAHB's BUILD-PAC, which stands for: 
Builders (note: If it affects builders it will affect associates)

BUILD-PAC looks to its NAHB membership for yearly investors and, with the help of their BUILD-PAC trustees and dedicated members, brings in the dollars needed to maintain and grow a noteworthy PAC.
The next part of the political synergy always begins with an idea, which becomes proposed legislation. It can be any idea which could cause an affect on the building industry. Good or bad, doesn't make a difference. What does make a difference is the path the idea takes on it's way to becoming law.

Below is a flow chart diagram of how an idea, once it becomes sponsored and becomes a bill, navigates its way through the political process. Take notice of the arrows on both the House side and the Senate side.

Keep going back to the diagram, and the arrows, as we continue. 

Here is where we begin the discussion on the grassroots addition to political synergy. 

NAHB Government Affairs staff track multiple bills, many many bills. They assess the impact, if any or how much, each will have on the housing industry. When a bill comes up that would have an affect, let's take THE HOME CONSTRUCTION LENDING REGULATORY IMPROVEMENT ACT, H.R. 1755, as an example, staff will begin the process of determining the pro/con impact.

( Click here for details on this bill > http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?ContentID=156407 )

NAHB staff will start to make contact with federal legislators that can help move the bill in a positive direction. Staff will ask politically engaged members, from the legislators districts back home, to support of the bill, possibly be a sponsor. This is staff and members working together in "a combined action or operation." Synergy. 

Go back to the arrows. Each one shows an area that staff and members, working as a cohesive unit, can make a direct impact on the bill's progress. As it goes through the house staff will also be working to get the bill moved through the Senate, which in turn shows more arrows or areas of staff/member influence. 
Any area where you see an arrow is an area that momentum can be gained or lost depending on the determination of the political synergy. This is also the case for a bill that can have a negative impact. The same exact areas of influence are present and this is where staff and members work to end the process. This is not unique to the building industry, every industry goes through the same exact process.

Once the bill passes through the House and the Senate it goes to the president. When the president signs the bill it becomes law. 

Once it's law, it's law.

You may be asking why this is so important to explain during Peer to Peer fundraising. It's very simple; complete political synergy is the size of the PAC, professional staff and members who are educated and passionate. 

In essence, the political synergy becomes what we, as members, always talk about:
The Three Legged Stool
Without staff it can't support.
Without engaged and passionate members it collapses.
Without a sizable PAC it will fail.

Losing anyone of the above legs would cause our advocacy efforts to be unstable and ultimately derail while strengthening all three provides tremendous support. Legislators always look at the amount of votes they can generate in their districts and they will also look at the amount of campaign dollars that can be contributed. It's been this way since time immemorial. In other words, we didn't create this process but we better be able to work this process.

During the arrow time slots in the above diagram each legislator we speak to will have done his/her homework on what the HBA brings to the table before decisions or directions are made. That's politics. The above stool really is a great way to show the prospective PAC investor what they can't see but they can feel.

There is so much more that goes on within this process but I have given you the broad, brush strokes. I would recommend you speak to your HBA president, PAC chair and/or executive officer for more detail than I have shared with you here. Understanding the political synergy and how it affects builders and remodelers, and in turn associates,  is key when discussing political investments. 

Next week we will discuss why YOU, the HBA member, should care about understanding the above and the need to invest in your future.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

1 comment:

Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis said...

Great job. Now if only NAHB members would start to believe in the power we have as a "special interest" group. Groups like AARP and the NRA get it! Lots of people belong to their Association and PAC, some not even giving very much to their PAC's, have had huge success in fighting for what is good for their cause. NAHB has the power of over 100,000 Associate members and maybe up to 1,000,000 of their fellow employees, to provide the grass roots money and congressional contacts to help this industry and the builders we serve.