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E-M:/ Sierra Club Named Most Influential Group on the Environment

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Great Lakes folks may be interested in this news release (below) which came 
out today in Washington DC about the most influential government
policy lobbying groups.     The Sierra Club was found to be the most
influential lobbying group on the environment.

Here in Michigan I believe that the Mackinac Chapter 
is one of the best in the entire Club for aggressive, concerted and 
effective action on policy and environmental/conservation
leadership.   The Mackinac Chapter has a strong
Executive Committee and support committee structure with a great
deal of effective volunteer commitment and a top-notch staff.   

Alison Horton, Anne Woiwode, Rita Jack and Melanie Nance do a 
tremendous job in their staff work to help make chapter volunteers
informed and effective.   I consider it an honor to work with them
on fundraising and information management tasks.

Alex Sagady


 Sierra Club Press Release:
 September 3, 1998
 WASHINGTON, DC.... An independent survey has named the Sierra Club the most 
 influential environmental organization in Washington. The study,  released 
 today by the Aspen Institute Nonprofit Sector Research Fund, asked every 
 member of Congress and key federal officials to "name the (two) national 
 nonprofit organizations that you believe have the most influence on federal 
 policy" in each of six issue areas.  On environmental issues, the survey 
 named the Sierra Club and the National Federation of Independent Businesses 
 (NFIB) as the two most influential organizations, with the Sierra Club 
 receiving more than double the number of responses than NFIB. 
 "This survey result is a tribute to the 550,000 members of the Sierra Club 
 who give us the political clout to influence policy makers," said Carl Pope, 
 the Sierra Club's Executive Director.  "Policy makers listen to the Sierra 
 Club because we represent their constituents and the vast majority of 
 Americans who believe in strong environmental protections."
 The survey comes as the Sierra Club is broadening its grassroots and media 
 efforts to educate the public, on environmental issues, Administrative policy 
 actions and Congressional votes. The organization has shifted 80% of the 
 resources once spent on lobbying in Washington to grassroots organizing and 
 public education in communities across America. The Sierra Club operates on 
 the principle that the simplest way to push for stronger environmental 
 standards is to give the public the information and the means to make their 
 voices heard.
 "This survey shows that the way to have clout in the Beltway is by addressing 
 the concerns that people have about local issues -- like the air their 
 children breathe and the water they drink," added Pope.  "It's a good sign 
 for our democracy that grassroots organizations like the Sierra Club are able 
 to translate the basic American value of a healthy environment into real 
 influence in the nation's Capitol."
 The Sierra Club is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots environmental 
 organization, with 550,000 members in 65 chapters and 408 groups nationwide. 
 These individuals are using grassroots activism and community action to 
 protect America's environment, for our families, for our future.
 From the Aspen Institute: 
 Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations Exemplify Democracy at Work
 Few of the Most Influential Contribute to Campaigns 
 Washington - Who will members of Congress be listening to when they return 
 from their Labor Day recess next week?  According to "Effective Nonprofit 
 Advocacy," a new study by Susan Rees, an independent researcher in 
 Washington, they will include the 12 organizations most frequently named in a 
 survey last year of Congress and the Administration.  The study was funded by 
 The Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund.
 The organizations are, on the budget, the Center on Budget and Policy 
 Priorities and the Concord Coalition; environment, the Sierra Club and 
 National Federation of Independent Business; family policy and welfare, the 
 Christian Coalition and Children's Defense Fund; foreign aid funding, the 
 American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Center for Strategic and 
 International Studies; health, American Medical Association and the American 
 Association of Retired Persons; housing and community development, U.S. 
 Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities.
 Case studies, based on interviews with the organization executives and other 
 research, describe the factors that make nonprofit organizations influential 
 in national policy debates.  The study found the majority of these 
 organizations have created democratic structures that enable their members 
 and supporters to deliberate on social and economic questions and come to 
 conclusions that their leaders and staff then convey to Washington 
 decision-makers.  The methods range from representative sampling of 
 membership opinion to complex processes for members to initiate, debate and 
 vote on the organization's policy agenda.  
 "Nonprofit advocacy is an important and understudied topic," said Alan J. 
 Abramson, director of the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund.  "Rees's findings 
 indicate that nonprofit organizations can serve as a critical link in our 
 democracy by channeling the interests of their members to leaders at the 
 highest levels of the policy process."
 The study describes the lobbying and communications techniques the 12 
 organizations use most frequently.  It also delves into questions of 
 strategy, the role of public opinion, and the types of rhetorical arguments 
 they frequently use.  It found that only three of the 12 organizations use 
 campaign contributions as a means of gaining legislative access.  
 "The main thing the 12 organizations have in common is a strong Washington 
 presence, even though two of them, the Sierra Club and the Concord Coalition, 
 emphasize public education and grassroots organizing," Rees said.  Only the 
 Sierra Club and the two business-professional associations, the AMA and NFIB, 
 contribute to candidates.  The study found more common ways of getting 
 lawmakers' attention are - 
       Serving as a source of credible, analytic and timely information.
       Conducting voter education -  informing followers of how their elected 
        representatives vote on issues of concern.
       Employing people who have worked on the Hill.
 To identify a set of highly effective organizations, Rees first asked 
 majority and minority staff directors of Congressional committees and 
 subcommittees with jurisdiction over the six issues of concern in this 
 project to name the most influential groups in their issue areas.  She then 
 used the responses from this select group as multiple choice options in a 
 second survey of all members of Congress and officials from the White House 
 and executive branch agencies.  In the second stage, each respondent was 
 asked to "name the two national nonprofit organizations that you believe have 
 the most influence on federal policy" on each of the six issues. The overall 
 response rate in the two-step process was 22.5 percent, higher than the 15 
 percent rate for a similar survey conducted last year to identify Fortune 
 Magazine's "Washington's Power 25." 
 Overall, case studies illustrate the 12 organizations believe it is important 
       Focus resources on one or two top policy priorities and not get bogged 
        down in side debates.
       Deliberately reach out to both Democrats and Republicans.
       Develop person-to-person relationships, including CEO meetings with    
        policy makers.
       Work in coalitions, especially "strange bedfellow" alliances.
       Train members and supporters to use a variety of advocacy and          
        political skills.
       Publicize their issues and political candidates' records and positions 
        on them during elections. 
       Engage policy makers with ordinary citizens on deliberative bodies. 
       Invite them to meet and observe the people and places they are         
       advocating for.
 The survey resulted in a total of 98 nonprofits being named across the six 
 policy areas.  Eleven were mentioned in more than one category, but only two 
 of them, the American Association of Retired Persons and the Center on Budget 
 and Policy Priorities, ranked third or higher on more than one issue.
 Three-fourths of the 12 organizations are membership-based.  Their size 
 varies greatly, but they have definitely achieved a certain scale, Rees said, 
 with budgets ranging from $3 million to $500 million. 
 All of the twelve organizations are designated nonprofits and permitted to 
 lobby under the Internal Revenue Code.  Some have affiliates designated under 
 different subsections of the code with different strictures. 
 Most of the organizations serve as a resource for information on legislation, 
 including who supports and opposes particular bills.  In communicating with 
 policy makers and the news media, they generally:
       Refrain from using loaded words or empty and inflammatory rhetoric.
       Use polls and focus groups to show public opinion on the issue.
       Give lawmakers data on the issue from their states and districts.
       Use economic arguments such as increased efficiency or job growth      
       Call on government to "level the playing field" and establish          
       Appeal to democratic, constitutional and historic principles, as well  
        as Congressional precedent.
       Define the problem to be solved in manageable terms.
 The study can be found on the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund's Aspen 
 Institute's Web site at http://www.aspeninst.org/dir/polpro/NSRF/NSRF1.html  
 Although it funded the study, the statements and conclusions are those of the 
 author alone and not necessarily of the Aspen Institute's  Nonprofit Sector 
 Research Fund or its funders.

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