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AFP Legislative Action Day

Wednesday, April 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tracy Akinade
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AFP Legislative Action Day

Sara Wise, AFP Board Member and 2017 NPD Chair

I have a confession. When I woke up on March 30 at 4:30 am to prepare for my trip to the 3rd AFP Texas Legislative Action Day, I was not exactly thrilled. In fact, I was cursing myself for agreeing to spend an entire day in Austin away from my client work. As I struggled to wake up, I swallowed the anxiety of missing productive work time and tried to focus on “doing my duty” for our chapter.

I was tired, I was anxious about the pile of work I was leaving behind, and feeling frustrated.

Great attitude, right?

As I walked up the steps into the beautiful Capitol Building, I reminded myself that I needed to enjoy the day. How often does one get to hang out at the Capitol, after all? Once I arrived to our designated meeting room, I realized only two of us had come from Houston. Dawn Koenning and I quickly realized that we needed to represent well and bring back our experience to the chapter so more members will become engaged and come in the future.

Despite my personal experience with legislators and judges, I had never formally participated in advocacy. I admit I was a bit concerned I might break protocol unknowingly or say the “wrong thing” to the staff. The opening remarks removed any concerns and the staff prepared us well, assuring us how easy it is to conduct a visit with legislators. Though they updated our group on possible state bills that might affect our industry, the goal of our visits and day at the Capital was strictly to introduce AFP to our legislators, share our mission and work, and develop relationships with the staff.

Sounds an awful lot like cultivation, doesn’t it?

I smile, because as non-profit fundraisers we can be so focused on doing good work in our own organizations that we often forget to utilize our best practices in our AFP chapter. As we moved about the Capitol visiting legislator offices and navigating the maze-like hallways, I realized how much my mood had lightened, how engaged I felt. I was participating in the work I love – just in a different format. We met with Houston-area representative and senate staffs, stopped by some other area legislators’ offices, and simply did the work that we know how to do – sharing our mission and building relationships. It was refreshing, it was productive, and it was truly fun.

Not only were Dawn and I able to meet other AFP leaders from around the state, but we also learned a few tidbits to bring back to our chapter. Advocacy is certainly not something that begins and ends with a legislative action day once a year in Austin. It can be so much more:

  • Get to know your local state representatives and senators. Invite them to your organization and events if appropriate. Stop by their local offices to get to know them and introduce your mission and work to their staff.

  • Keep up with legislative bills and actions both nationally and at the state and city level. It is easy to think bills won’t directly affect our work, but we must stay aware of what is happening.

  • Send letters and notes periodically to legislators to keep your organization front of mind, especially if a bill affects your work.

  • Participate in the next AFP Texas Legislative Action Day or inquire with AFP-International about how to get more involved and informed with AFP issues and advocacy.

What I learned from attending the AFP Legislative Action Day goes far beyond the power of advocacy and the importance of knowing our legislators. I learned the necessity of taking time for acts of service and getting away from the daily grind to experience something new.

How often do we pass up opportunities in favor of the “I’m too busy” excuse? As fundraising professionals, we often get stretched to the limit with demanding projects, events, and donor meetings, not to mention trying to fit in our personal lives as well. We say “no” to other opportunities like professional development meetings, networking events, personal time for exercise or friends, or even service projects, claiming we are just “too busy.”

Perhaps the next time an opportunity comes your way, instead of saying no, consider the power of saying YES.

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