The American Psychological Association is the voice of professional psychology in the U.S., a 130-year-old organization that represents more than 146,000 clinicians, researchers, educators, students and other practitioners. Yet, as it approached the 2022 election, its political action committee was in need of an overhaul.
As Katherine B. McGuire, the organization’s chief advocacy officer and chair of Psychology PAC, shared with attendees of the Public Affairs Council’s National PAC Conference, the organization wanted to create a sense of belonging and inclusivity. The new approach focused on engagement and programming. For example, they created an $500 “All-Access Pass” that allowed members to attend a full lineup of virtual events with lawmakers and analysts. They even had a “S-PAC-Ghetti Night” in which Arthur C. Evans Jr., the association’s CEO, taught members how to make his recipe for sauce.
The results were quantifiably delicious. Throughout 2022, the association launched 18 solicitation campaigns—sending more than 2 million emails—and saw an average open rate of 52 percent. Pass holders opened at a rate of 68 percent. By year’s end, PAC membership grew by 34 percent and annual receipts grew by 23 percent.
Engaging a Tech-Savvy Audience
Stories like the one that McGuire told were in abundance at the National PAC Conference, where hundreds of PAC officials gathered to learn from top programs how to boost engagement, grow membership, learn new PAC fundraising strategies — and take a look at Quorum’s newest product, Quorum PAC.
For example, Dorian Wanzer-Kanu, advocacy manager at International Paper, and Meredith Allison, manager of political affairs at the American Academy of Dermatology, spoke about how to engage an audience that is technologically savvy. At International Paper, which operates IP-PAC, the focus is on creating relevant, evergreen media across multiple platforms. Wanzer-Kanu says the organization makes strong use of video and also hosts a podcast that explains issues such as why International Paper has a PAC and how it chooses candidates. In all of its media, Wanzer-Kanu said, the PAC tries to make participation —including that of employees—simple, by scripting in advance and using digital tools to connect.
At the American Academy of Dermatology, which operates SKIN-PAC, the organization has made great use of digital payment platforms as a way to make giving less complicated. As a PAC that has operated for almost a quarter of a century and has roughly 16,500 eligible members, that kind of streamlining can really help.
Integrating Your PAC With Your Organization
At Phillips 66, the multinational energy company based in Texas, one big push has been to integrate PAC66 with the rest of the company more closely. The reason, according to Ed Thayer, director of political affairs, was to raise the profile of Government Affairs in general and the PAC in particular.
In 2018, the company moved the PAC to its Houston headquarters. The move fostered more integration with other business units, raised the profile of Government Affairs and increased the PAC’s visibility among those who could donate. It allowed for drop-by conversations and more personal relationships. The PAC now holds a weekly alignment call, is given dedicated time on issues calls, and meets regularly with important departments such as Corporate Communications. All of that change has paid dividends. PAC66 has seen receipts grow for two election cycles; benefits from executives who are more engaged; and has been able to reach new audiences, such as Phillips 66 retirees.
Embracing ‘PAC-Matching’ Programs
At the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, a financial services company better known as DTCC, the organization embraced what is known as a “PAC Matching” program. These programs donate to popular charities based on how much donors give to the PAC.
At DTCC, explained Director of Global Government Relations Justin McCorvey, the match is 10 percent for those who donate at the “recommended giving amount.” Managing directors, for example, are recommended to give $5,000, and those who do can direct the match to whatever charity they choose. For senior associates, the recommendation is $250. “It helps tell your company’s story of being a good corporate citizen,” he said in his presentation.
Brittany Starr, senior director of political affairs at the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, said her organization added a PAC match option to OrthoPAC during their Orthopedic Advocacy Week last year. The match rose with contributions to the PAC. For example, those giving $100 to $999 to the PAC got a $100 donation to the charity of their choice. Those giving $5,000 got a $2,500 charitable donation.
The organization promoted the match heavily, using both a website and a text-to-give mobile option. They recommended some charities, but allowed contributors to choose whichever organization they wanted to support, and they reported numbers for the campaign as it grew. The results were impressive.
The organization raised more than $100,000 for the PAC in a very short period, including 56 percent from donors who did not contribute the year before and 16 percent from first-time donors. The number of $5,000 donors almost doubled. Now, they are considering extending the PAC match for $5,000 donors throughout the year.
“A PAC Match is an uncontroversial fundraising method for your PAC,” she said in her presentation. “It can help reiterate your PAC’s purpose while showing members you care about their personal passions.”
The Debut of Quorum PAC
Conference attendees also saw the debut of Quorum PAC, a modern and intuitive tool that helps PAC professionals raise money, report results, and stay compliant. Industry-leading solicitation tools and built-in workflows make it easy to drive participation, manage transactions, disburse strategically, and file with the FEC.
Bolstered by Quorum’s acquisition of CisionPAC in December 2021, Quorum PAC is the largest advancement in PAC Management software in decades. Quorum also offers PAC outsourcing services, including compliance filing, account and receipt management, and bank reconciliation.
“Over the years, we’ve heard requests over and over again from customers to build a PAC product,” said Alex Wirth, Quorum’s co-founder and CEO. “These folks haven’t seen real innovation in decades, but they knew from using our other products that Quorum was the one who could tackle it.”