If you decide you need professional help to navigate the lobbying process, there are dozens of firms and solo practitioners to choose from.
Many firms have a nonprofit specialist or nonprofit clients; however, it is important to know what you can expect from a lobbying firm and to take steps to ensure you are making the best use of your nonprofit’s resources.
What to look for in a lobbying firm:
- Do they have expertise and connections on the subject matter you are looking to get involved in? How have they demonstrated that?
- What is their approach to lobbying? Some firms focus on quiet dealings and others with more public campaigns. Make sure the firm is aligned with your preferred strategy.
- Who exactly will be working on your issue? Get to know and make sure you are comfortable with your contact.
- What are the firm’s expectations of you, as the client? How often will you be present and involved? How often do you want to be present and involved? Set out ahead of time if and when you are comfortable participating in fundraisers or dinners or having your lobbyist attend them on your behalf.
- Ask for a written strategy plan with dates and deliverables to ensure your expectations are aligned and you can track deliverables to ensure expectations are being met.
- What communications support do they provide? Will they message, draft materials, handle media outreach? Will you have the opportunity to review materials? What does that process look like?
A lobbyist can clear the path and help you navigate your goals, but they also manage a portfolio of clients and have very different reputations and approaches. Make sure you run any selection by your bill sponsor and ensure they have a good working relationship before you sign any contracts!