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General Session: Evaluating Your Organization From Within: The Practitioner Perspective

July 22, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 10:10 am

Every organization brings its own mix of available resources to an advocacy effort. Some groups are blessed with large budgets, active memberships, and ample staff resources, while others regularly find ways to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Resources don’t always lead to success, and with any budget, it pays to be honest with yourself when accessing your efforts. This exciting keynote will show us what to look for when evaluating your organization’s advocacy team and its results – and how to make the most of what you have.

Jessica Cooper, National Federation of Independent Business
Laura Ness, BAYADA Home Health Care
Dave Totaro, BAYADA Home Health Care
Mike Panetta, Beekeeper Group



  • Defined what the “BAYADA Way” is – serving customers and people come first.
  • Realized their largest customer (the government) was not being spoken to/considered in marketing outreach efforts. 70% of their business is funded by medicare/Medicaid. Took a 3-legged stool approach to their Government Affairs department (established in 2009): Direct lobbying, Social media/PA team within the GA office, third one.
  • How to define incremental revenue from a GA perspective – Medicaid rate cut, saving money internally, how to define ROI
  • GA team functions as an independent organization from the rest of BAYADA – contracted for their specific work. (direct charge)
  • One KPI: actual vs expected spend. ROI is not always considered in these KPIs
  • A good ROI was a $4:$1 ratio, but nowadays, that ratio is much higher (now around $10 – $12)
  • Every dollar invested in GA COULD be spent somewhere else, so establishing your ROI and value is very important
  • Tips on how to make the most of your budget? Not every asset is of equal value, some mid-range level people might carry a bigger bang for their buck
  • How do you anticipate results for a 3-5 year investment? Vendors are on a quarterly reporting basis – need to be showing results every 3 or so months.
  • Just completed a 3-year strategic plan (how to operate, what your resources need to be, etc)
  • Need to speak their language – when you’re talking to operators, you need to speak in financial terms and understand their goals and how your team’s ROI impacts their bottom line
  • Always return to those bottom line, 10-year goals. Communicate and remind people of your bottom line so that stakeholders can observe the value you bring. Branding is very important


  • Delicate balance when it comes to transparency – don’t want to reveal how the sausage is made, but still want and need to keep their stakeholders updated and informed
  • Being proactive in taking credit for wins internally/with stakeholders
  • Tips on how to make the most of your budget? Constantly evaluating the big spending and resources. For them, usually vendors or contractors. Regularly evaluate the value we get from them and determine if things could have been done differently or better. Have them feel a little bit of the pain when reporting or doing these analyses
  • Postcard campaign for reaching elderly or aging population who aren’t on the internet. A lot of work with a low ROI, but learned a lot.
  • Good bang for the buck: expanding on legislative advocacy center internally. Photoshopped leadership team onto Uncle Sam posters that said “I want YOU to register” and they signed up 94% of their staff with a goofy but low-cost effort
  • Your short-term goals should all be working against your long-term goals
  • Consistently talking about your successes helps to lay the groundwork for relationship building, which impacts the long-term goals for your GA team and the organization’s goals
  • Brought the company to social media and personal lives of the GA team – made it more accessible. It’s not all fancy dinners, they are real people and there’s a lot that goes into getting results. Late nights, weekend travel, etc. having the branded content for the advocacy team/office helps cement the value they present.


  • NFIB is turning 80 years old soon!
  • 7 years ago they centralized their grassroots efforts (which used to be split between state and federal), but now state and federal grassroots are all under one Grassroots team.
  • Top down and bottom up, members are the central voice and driving force.
  • Lobbyists don’t always understand the value of advocacy, but when those two forces work together, great progress can be made.
  • Measuring success is always changing and evolving, but they are working on setting internal benchmarks on key KPIs but always talking about what the GA team is working on and accomplishing helps remind people of the value of GA.
  • Tracking earned media hits that originated from grasstops requests or existing relationships. Ties efforts of GA/PA efforts back to the center of every other department.
  • Always follow up with your advocates, don’t always be asking them for things. Rather than asking to take action or donate, let them know the results of those actions – celebrate the successes.
  • Thanksgiving Thank You as an update and a big thank you for their donations
  • Tips on how to make the most of your budget? Tap into current vendors and stay in touch with them. Are you using all the tools available to you? How can you maximize what you currently have? Make sure the products or services you’re paying for are being used to their fullest extent, where possible
  • At annual reviews, always ask employees where they want to grow and invest in your existing talent and foster them rather than taking the money to an outside vendor or new hire
  • Too many events with not enough people attending. Used to be a very cost-heavy effort with very little in return. Doing events for event’s sake.
  • Fly-ins take a lot of work – are they worth it? How can we make it more worth it? The really engaged members that participate are top advocates and also always result in stopping or changing legislation. Remind members that in the past 5 years, every fly-in has resulted in legislative change
  • How has the pandemic changed fly-ins? Pre-covid, small business owners would have never attended a virtual meeting, now people are much more comfortable with virtual events or efforts
  • Be a good listener – what are the other departments talking about, what are their challenges, and what are their goals, listen and keep your antennas up to constantly be absorbing and adaptable
  • Take the work out of the ask to get a YES.
  • The sales team sells memberships based on what NFIB is fighting for. Research shows that the more engaged a member is, they are more likely to renew their membership for 2-3 years


  • How do you frame wins vs losses or almost wins?
    • There’s nothing in between – Dave doesn’t consider a partial win to be a win because their members don’t consider partial a win
    • Wins aren’t always dollars. Maybe you brought in new members or advocates, etc
    • Reasonable and manageable goals
    • Pull the plug if you don’t think you’re going to get it done – if you’ve lost sight of the progress or goal, don’t waste time or money. Stop and regroup or come back when you’re ready
  • How do you evaluate the “three legs” of the GA team?
    • Each has its own budget, they each need to be strong together – always look at it as the whole, but don’t cannibalize your arms
  • How do you justify bringing in an external resource?
    • BAYADA was able to demonstrate the correlation of more FTEs, GA revenue, and company revenue. Show that more people = more money
    • Listen – how can you connect what you need with what someone else needs and team up your request to make it multifaceted
    • Do a little bit of the work for people – sometimes an idea is too lofty, but having something tangible to latch onto is helpful


July 22, 2022
9:00 am - 10:10 am
Event Category:
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