Learn To Love Lobbying

There’s a great post over at Butts In The Seats titled Info You Can Use: What Is Lobbying and Can I Do It? which covers some of the basics of lobbying do’s and don’ts (thanks in part to the Charity Lawyer Blog). In the age of government budget cuts, lobbying is more important than ever if orchestras hope to stand an ice cube’s chance in hell to retain funding…

Adaptistration People 114In my consulting work, I’ve always made a point of including a public affairs component to board development projects and lobbying is almost always a topic that comes up during the exploration stage. More often than not, I encounter board members who are under the impression that charitable organizations are somehow prohibited or are somehow restricted when it comes to meaningful lobbying activity.

Fortunately, that isn’t the case and the blog post at Butts In The Seats is a good reference source to get the discussion going and dispelling some of those common myths. The last time we touched on the topic of public affairs committees here in any great detail was in an article from 9/24/2009 and everything there is just as relevant now as it was then.

Moreover, designing and building an effective government affairs committee is an excellent way to build some enthusiasm among a board membership that might be feeling the effects of burnout or generally demoralized. However, one of the upshots of government affairs committees is the return on investment is comparatively quick when measured alongside other advancement activities. Consequently, the time and treasure spent in putting one together is certainly worthwhile.


About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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