January 14, 2016

Why Teddy Was Right...

 ... and still is today.

Theodore Roosevelt said "every man owes part of his (and her) time and money to the business or industry in which he (she) is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his (her) support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his (her) sphere."  

Great words then, sound advice now, which leads me to my article today; Political Action Committees (PAC). PACs are well known as a "money source to aid special interests." I can't argue with that thought because it basically is. All industries have a PAC. Maybe they don't all call it a PAC but trust me, it is. The other part is the special interest tie-in; who doesn't have a special interest? EVERYBODY has a connection to a special interest. My special interest is very simple; my job or better stated the protection and growth opportunities for my job. 

Suffice it to say, all of us in the home building industry would share, to some degree, in my special interest. Being that I make my living in arguably the most regulated and legislated industry in the United States, I rely on the skill set and powers of persuasion of key employees of the National Association of Home Builders for Washington, D.C. interactions and key staff members from my state association in my state capital, to work with those who make the laws have full understanding of outcomes of said laws.
PACs come into play to help support the campaigns of those who provide level headed discussions and direction towards our industry. So why do quite a few of our  members cringe when they hear PAC? They assume "money out of pocket." No one likes to throw away cash; we work to hard to earn it. There is a disconnect, however, on how we actually earn our cash, our income and/or our profits. If you connect the dots in my above statements it will be very clear that PACs are not cash out of pocket but the means of restoring said cash and more.

We need to to a much better job at selling PAC. Any business looking to sell has to start with a marketing plan. What does marketing look like today? Marketing, more and more, is a conversation and the days of brands “talking at” people are numbered if not gone. What we need to look at as part of our PAC conversation is simple messaging from our best “customers” to potential buyers. We hear all the time about testimonials, online reviews, etc. It's all about trust in an individual and the passion the exude that will help sell the PAC. NAHB started a program, several years ago, that we still utilize in language; Peer to Peer, PAC investor to member or affiliate of record. Notice I wrote PAC investor, meaning to invest, and not contribute. 
There is a huge difference in messaging between invest and contribute;

  • A contribution would indicate that it’s a onetime “hit” on the members wallet. Same could be said for the description "donation."
  • An investment would indicate taking ownership in the process
Check out these definitions and tell me which is more appropriate for what we are trying to accomplish;

a gift or payment to a common fund or collection.
"charitable contributions"


the action or process of investing money for profit or material result.

While contribution definition states "payment to a common fund," which could be a PAC, most would politely turn down the opportunity. 
By its very nature, an investment means the investor is looking for a return. BUILD-PAC fits the bill because it does realize, as the definition states, a profit (through more business opportunities) and material result (career security, growth, etc.).

All of the above is food for thought, to get you started in maybe changing they way you/we sell PAC going forward. The basics of how we market and sell our respective goods and services is how we should approach PAC fundraising. Where there is a need there is good conversation. With good conversation comes sincerity. We just have to identify what it is, exactly, we are looking for and how long it is needed.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

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