Planning a Successful Lobby Day

Ron Book

January 31, 2023

Planning a successful lobby day is an important step in your advocacy campaign. It allows you to connect with your lawmakers and make a difference in the world. For this reason, you want to start your preparation as early as possible. This includes scheduling meetings, recruiting members and ensuring that your advocacy team has everything they need to run a successful meeting.

Decide on a Campaign

Planning a successful Lobby Day can be a daunting task, but if executed well, it can help your advocacy efforts and increase visibility. Before you begin planning, it’s important to decide on a campaign that is relevant to your audience.

Ideally, your campaign should address the issue that is most important to your supporters. For example, if your members are concerned about the state of the world, you may want to create a campaign around climate change and environmental issues.

Once you have your campaign set, the next step is to start recruiting participants. It’s important to target a variety of groups, including students, business owners, and community members, as this can help you connect the issue to their personal experiences.

Recruit Members

Whether you’re organizing a physical or virtual lobby day, recruiting members can be an important step in planning a successful campaign. Start by identifying advocates and members who have a high level of engagement with your organization.

These people should be able to speak about the issue and its impact in an engaging way. They should also be familiar with your organization’s mission, values, and goals.

If possible, bring at least 20 people to the event, but the more you can attract, the better. It’s also a good idea to look for advocates from different state legislative districts, as this will send the message that your concerns are being heard statewide.

Schedule Appointments

Lobby days are an important part of nonprofit advocacy work. They give groups a chance to connect with their supporters, raise awareness about issues and build community.

For a successful lobby day, advocacy leaders should start scheduling appointments about four to five months out. That’s when you can start ironing out an agenda, appointments list, elected official bios, talking points on the issues and location maps.

You can also start sending out “leave-behinds” that can help lawmakers remember key points from your meeting. These packets should include the advocate’s notes, visuals and contact information so the member or staffer can follow up with them later on.

Organize a Reception

A legislative reception in the evening, if your organization has the budget for it, is a great way to reinforce the importance of Lobby Day and foster relationships between members and lawmakers. Happy Hours at restaurants or hotels are also a great opportunity to continue conversations after meetings with legislators are finished.

After a Lobby Day, it is important to reconvene with your advocates and gather all of the information that you can from them. Get feedback on what types of discussions they had with their lawmakers, if they had any follow-up questions, and if there were any technical issues (this is especially critical for virtual lobby days).

It is also important to send out lobby packets to advocates and lawmaker staffers before the meeting to ensure that they have all of the information that they need. These packets should include a summary of the issue, the advocate running the meeting, and a leave-behind with contact information for anyone who has follow-up questions.

Follow Up

Whether you are conducting a lobby day on your own or with a partner organization. Follow up immediately after the event to make sure that the momentum from the meeting is maintained and that any promises made during the meeting are actually carried out. This is especially true if you did a virtual lobby day.

FCNL encourages advocates to log their interactions with legislators in their digital lobby day resources. Not only does this help them to remember key points of conversations they had. But it also allows them to see if a legislator is opposed to or supports an entire portion of a bill they are advocating for. This intel can help a lobbyist build upon the conversation and make a case for their support of the bill.