Special Olympics Government Relations Working with Programs to strengthen the Movement everywhere Government Relations In the field All politics is local --Tip ONeil The effective engagement of policymakers extends beyond your support for Federal appropriations efforts in Washington, DC. The most important support for our appropriations will occur at the state and local level (engaging Members of Congress AT HOME) Developing and strengthening relationships with public officials at all levels, including state and local leaders, has directly and indirectly benefited a number of U.S. Programs in recent years.
Government Relations Its all about relationships Who is who? SOI staff and consultants SONA staff Program leaders USLC Government Relations Committee - Chaired by Mike McGovern-RI, Georgia Milton-Sheets-GA, Rick Jeffrey-VA Relationship between Programs and the Government Relations team at SOI Ongoing collaboration and communication Government relations Guide SONA Memo regular government relations updates Discussion forums, training and conferences Support in developing your state government relations strategies Partnership Agreements
State Legislative Days (Hill Days) Tax checkoff example State Government Relations Activities State Partnerships A shared commitment between Programs and government to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by advancing Special Olympics and its transformative powers Formal support/endorsement of government and other important entities to strengthen Special Olympics Heads of State (Governors, State lawmakers, etc.) Corporate leaders Agency leaders Signed Partnership Agreements that lay out underlying principles and broad goals, with commitment to develop specific strategic plan to achieve stated goals Together, we pledge to craft a strategic plan within the next six months that is based on the goals outlined above and includes clear, measurable objectives.
We will create positive change in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities Examples Iowa, Mississippi State Government Relations Activities State Legislative Lobby Days Have a clear purpose develop your state government relations strategy first Consult/work with friendly state officials including legislators Include athletes, family members, coaches and board members Create talking points that you will touch upon at the meeting Prepare handouts to give to the legislators Program Fact Sheet (how Special Olympics benefits athletes, family members and community; facts about intellectual disability (prevalence, employment rates, health care outcomes, etc.) Your request: in 1-2 pages (or less) succinctly state what you are asking for (example: We seek $500K appropriation for program expansion) Hold orientation/training for participants Review the asktalking points
Make sure everyone has a role at meetings Engage athletes Program Examples Virginia, Texas State Government Relations Activities State Tax Check-offs (to support Special Olympics) In 1977, Colorado was the first state in the country to allow taxpayers to "check-off" a voluntary contribution to a non-profit organization Today, the Colorado allows up to 13 non-profits to be part of the program. Steps: draft legislation
secure bill sponsors in both the Senate and House of Representatives legislation enacted rigorous review process to be approved by the Colorado State Legislature After three years, an organization comes before the legislature for renewal To stay part of the check-off, Colorado organizations must raise $75K per year through the check-off program - In 2005, SOCO raised over $212K. Currently, 220 check-off programs in 41 states and the District of Columbia, a jump from 179 programs in 2000 and 103 programs in 1989. Check-off Colorado is a collaborative statewide public awareness campaign about check-off giving, targeting CPAs, financial planners, tax preparers, and taxpayers themselves. Additional details: www.checkoffcolorado.org. Government Relations Activities Cultivating Members of Congress back home Cultivation of key Members of Congress back at home Attend Annual Capitol Hill Day (Feb 26-27, 2007)
Follow up with thank-yous US Program meetings with Members in their Districts/States bring athletes, create photo op Invitations to state Special Olympics events Encourage Congressional staff to attend if Member cannot Encourage active participation in SO State Competitions and Events as speakers, award presenters, etc. Include when and where appropriate Congressional spouses Thank Members of Congress in Newsletter and web-mail lists Send letters and photos from athletes and families Program examples
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