With the combination of an atypical legislative process and the severity of the impact on the fitness industry, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) needed to act fast to ensure inclusion in the relief package.
“We knew we needed to get the fitness industry included in any relief package and mobilize the more than 425,000 fitness professionals across the country,” said Jeffrey Perkins, Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs for IHRSA. “We prioritized official communication of our position to Congress and launched our grassroots campaign via an emergency alert to our membership.”
Unlike many legislative fights, the question around COVID relief legislation was not if something would pass, but rather what would the bill include? And unlike many legislative fights that are drawn out over months or even years, this bill was coming together over hours and days.
Like the restaurant industry, fitness centers were one of the first industries mandated to close by governors across the country. However, these organizations (many of whom are small businesses), had almost no way of driving income once people were not allowed in their facilities.
Within 48 hours of states beginning to put restrictions on public gatherings and closing health clubs, IHRSA launched a grassroots campaign with Quorum to bring the voices of their members—who are fitness industry professionals, and those who supply the fitness industry—to Congress.
IHRSA has four criteria necessary for their campaigns:
In the letters that IHRSA had advocates send to members of Congress with Quorum, the ask was clear: include the fitness industry in any relief package. They started with this high-level message, then used the rest of the message to dive into specifics such as:
-the vast number of businesses and individuals impacted by the closure of fitness facilities,
-what the health impacts are of a loss of fitness facilities, and
-what Congress can offer to help keep these businesses afloat.
Explaining why advocates should care is a critical part of every campaign IHRSA runs. In this case, this wasn’t much of a challenge as most advocates were feeling the immediate effects of their facilities closing.
“It's also a unique situation that everyone is feeling in a very tangible way,” Perkins said. “Usually, our members require a bit more convincing to take action or to understand the importance of a campaign. This situation is impacting every health and fitness business across the country in a very immediate and dramatic way.”
To further motivate action, IHRSA embedded statistics on the impact of coronavirus side-by-side with the form for advocates to take action. This way, before they began to fill out the form, they could understand the macro impact on the industry and why taking this action was critical.
With Quorum Grassroots, users can build their own standalone websites featuring their action center with modules to include video content, issue explainers, and other methods to show the importance of an organization’s advocacy work.
IHRSA has found that graphics and visuals can do a better job of communicating impact than words alone. For the campaign around the CARES Act, IHRSA embedded graphics citing economic and medical stats on the value of the fitness industry side-by-side with the form to take action so advocates could see both at once and be inspired to act.
It is critical for every campaign IHRSA runs to have an organized communications strategy to drive advocates to take action, but the association significantly increased the frequency of communications for this campaign. Notably, IHRSA used Quorum to send a daily message to its advocates with new updates on how the circumstances around COVID-19 had changed and why taking action was critical.
“The consistency of communication and the variety of platforms and mediums in which we pushed the campaign was unusual,” Perkins said. “Having the campaign pushed out to all members in a daily update in a shareable format that included fresh information each day seemed to help the campaign maintain momentum.”
In addition to messages sent through Quorum, IHRSA also promoted the campaign on its website and through daily promotions on social media, articles, and infographics. IHRSA also asked advocates who had taken action to share the campaign with other fitness clubs and their employees to grow the reach of the campaign.
“On day 4 of our campaign, members began sharing the campaign with other clubs, employees, even their members, and the campaign developed a momentum of its own, growing from 30,000 letters sent to Congress on day 4 to over 100,000 letters by day 7,” Perkins said.
With Quorum’s integrated advocacy platform, IHRSA can address each of its four key criteria for a successful campaign. An action center that is easy for advocates to use and embeds resources like graphics and issue-education allows them to show advocates a clear goal and clear call to action.
Quorum’s integrated email tool, Outbox, allows the association to maintain consistent communication with advocates. Finally, IHRSA is able to report on the success of their campaign and derive insights for future campaigns with Quorum’s analytics tools that allow them to track things like advocate source.
In total, IHRSA’s campaign saw 41,643 advocates take 126,345 actions. IHRSA had an exceptionally motivated group of advocates, and the ease of taking action helped those advocates make their voices heard.
“One consistent piece of feedback we kept getting from our advocates was the ease of use. Taking action was fast and easy,” Perkins said. “I think that helped contribute to people’s willingness to share the campaign with others. Our advocates could feel like they had contributed without having to take a big chunk of time out of their day.”