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Jul 3, 2019
Posted Under: Advocacy

Yesterday we hosted a conference call for nonprofits to talk about how we amplify the nonprofit community response to the line-item vetoes in Governor Dunleavy’s budget. We heard from you that you need tools to navigate the next steps. To that end, we have crafted a message template for you to use as a guide. We encourage you to use it to create a message to share with your board and others to help them when they contact their legislators.

Call to Action – Please follow these steps:

Step 1 – Gather your stakeholders: board, staff, donors, volunteers, participants.

Step 2 – Provide them with a contact list of all the legislators. Start with your own district and then move on to the whole list – it is essential to contact all 60 legislators.

Step 3 – Provide an easy-to-follow message.

Step 4 – Ask your stakeholders to call or email using your ready-made messaging. A personal visit is best, but the compressed timeline makes that more difficult. Encourage your stakeholders to make an extra effort with legislators they know personally or with whom they have worked in the past.

Step 5 – Repeat Step 4 as many times as you can between today and the vote, when the legislature must make a decision about the budget.

Extra tips:

  • Personalize the message as much as possible. If applicable, thank them for the support they have given your organization on previous issues.
  • Focus on dollars, percentages, and people. Every piece of data needs context. Explain the impact in human terms so people are inspired to take action – tell your stories.
  • Contact each legislator one-by-one rather than sending one message to all of them at one time.

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Message Template:

Overarching message: Override all the line-item vetoes TOGETHER 

Remember that while you have a specific cause and focus, we need to be in this together. We need to stand strong together for Alaska. Ask for an override of the all the vetoes, not separate votes on each of the 182 line items. While you likely have a line-item veto or vetoes that are relevant to your mission, success can only come with a request to override ALL vetoes.

It will take 45 votes from the 60 legislators to successfully override the vetoes.

Your message:

Use this format as a guide. Craft your message with one or two sentences from each section.

  1. Show respect

Address each person with their title by name – for instance, Senator John Smith, or Representative Jane Doe.

  1. State the problem (Explain the issue.)

Example: Governor Dunleavy’s vetoes eliminate $ _____ for _______(service).

  1. Describe what the cuts mean (Explain in simple terms.)

Example: These cuts will mean the loss of _____________(real impact).

  1. Explain why it matters to everyone (Explain in a sentence or two why an Alaskan not directly connected to your work will care. Better yet, connect it to the specific issues the legislator is on record caring about in their district. Focus on translating the abstract budget numbers in ways that make the problem relevant to everyone in their daily lives.)

Example: All Alaskans rely on _____________.

  1. Explain that nonprofits are part of the solution – but we can’t do it on our own (Explain that the problems do not go away if programs are not funded. Without hyperbole, explain how you will serve fewer people, provide reduced services, close your doors, etc. Explain how you leverage government funds – “an investment in us multiplies the impact of state dollars.” For some, explain how you receive no government funding, but the people and communities you serve will still see the adverse impact. Explain how philanthropy, whether from increased foundation funding or enhanced individual charitable giving, cannot simply “make up the difference” as many people believe.)

Example: Nonprofits are the safety net for Alaskans. We are saving lives and caring for people with real challenges. We are celebrating artists and creating vibrant communities. For every dollar we receive, we leverage it and multiply it by three times or more.

  1. Make a call to action (Explain what you want them to do. Keep it simple. Stand together.)

Example: I urge you to vote to override ALL 182 line-item budget vetoes.