For the Land Trust Alliance, it is critical for member organizations to connect with their federally elected officials to put a face on the policy needs of the land trust community. To fulfill this objective, the Alliance created an Ambassador Program through which staff and supporters of member organizations pledge to take a more active role in engaging with their legislators.
However, a well-run Ambassador Program requires a lot of organization—a clean list of who has taken the pledge, a means of communicating efficiently, and a system to track the engagement between advocates and legislators.
Just before Robert Schwartz joined the Alliance as its Ambassador Program Manager the nonprofit adopted Quorum Federal for legislative tracking. Schwartz quickly realized that there were additional opportunities to utilize Quorum including for better management of the Ambassador Program.
With Quorum, Schwartz has a tool that provides two-way communication between the Alliance and its Ambassadors. The Alliance keeps Ambassadors in the loop with policy updates, and Ambassadors share insights from meetings with legislators both in their district and in Washington, D.C.
Sharing Information with Ambassadors
Schwartz uses Quorum to manage his interactions with Ambassadors- ranging from monthly updates to information regarding the Alliance’s annual fly-in, Advocacy Days.
To send the Alliance’s monthly Ambassador newsletter Schwartz turns to Outbox, Quorum’s integrated email tool. He began by building a newsletter template, that he can populate each month with relevant policy and community news.
“Each month, our Ambassadors receive a newsletter full of helpful information. The template I created using Outbox makes it easy for us to customize content,” Schwartz said.
When its annual fly-in, Advocacy Days, approaches the Alliance uses Quorum to prepare land trust advocates to meet with their legislators. Key components are customized one-page briefing documents for attendees about each of the members with whom they are meeting. Using Quorum’s Download Center, Schwartz selects the data he wants on each one-pager, including a member’s voting history on issues and bills the Alliance cares about, and then provides those pages to each attendee. Attendees found these one-pagers helpful and Schwartz updates them for each congressional term so land trust advocates can have them available when they meet with their legislators in district or in Washington, D.C.
“Quorum allowed me to automate the production of the customized sheets; otherwise this information might have to be prepared by hand,” Schwartz said.
Receiving Intel from Ambassadors
The Land Trust Alliance uses Quorum’s external interaction logger as a platform for advocates to share notes from their meetings with legislators. Both during the Alliance’s annual fly-in and throughout the calendar year land trust advocates complete an online questionnaire that seeks to capture what policy topics are being discussed with a legislator or his or her staff.
“It’s a set of four or five questions that we’ve developed with a lot of room for them to provide feedback on what was discussed and what next steps should be taken,” Schwartz said.
During the Alliance’s fly-in, staff can quickly pull participants’ reports from Quorum to learn what was discussed in meetings with Congressional offices and what next steps should be. Schwartz and other staff can identify common themes across meetings and learn where particular members stand on the Alliance’s issues. While advocates log the majority of notes during the annual fly-in, they have access to log meeting notes at any time during the year.
When speaking with legislators, the most impactful meetings are the ones that include constituents. With a successful Ambassador Program, organizations such as the Alliance can make sure to consistently engage legislators with their own constituents while discussing federal policy priorities.
For the Alliance, having communication tools for sending information to and collecting intel from advocates keeps the Ambassador Program running smoothly. With Outbox, the Alliance can make sure that Ambassadors are kept up to date on policy priorities and Ambassador events. With the external interaction logger, all land trust advocates can share the conversations and insights from their congressional meetings with the Alliance.
By using one system, the Alliance can more readily get a complete picture of the activity their program’s supporters have had with each member of Congress.
To see how your organization can organize its ambassador program with Quorum, request a demo.