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Best Practices 

Guidlines for Professional Conduct  

Tips for contracting with a lobbyist  

Evaluating your nonprofit's lobbyist  

Public Policy Planning Checklist 

Weiser's Top 5 Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits


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Pennsylvania Association for Government Relations (PAGR)
Guidelines for Professional Conduct

The Pennsylvania Association for Government Relations believes that effective government depends on the greatest possible participation of those being governed. At the state level, such participation focuses on the legislative and executive branches where professional and citizen lobbyists drawn from every major discipline represent literally every segment of society and every sector of the economy. The Association further believes that the heavy responsibility of the professional lobbyist, functioning in the eye of public opinion, requires standards of ethical behavior beyond those generally accepted by a free and moral society. The Association therefore, offers the following guidelines which it urges be observed by its members and all those whose professional objectives are to influence state public policy decisions.
Download a PDF of guidelines from PAGR.

Download a PDF of guidelines from ASAE.

Tips for contracting with a lobbyist

  • To have a reasonable expectation of how much you should pay your lobbyist, ask other organizations how much they pay for their lobbyist, put out a bid to multiple firms, or look up quarterly lobbying expense reports on the PA Department of State website. Type in the name of a competitor’s organization/ company under "client name." The web site will tell you who their registered lobbyists is. By clicking on the quarterly lobbying expense reports - you can see how much money the lobby firm received from any particular client. Keep in mind that there may be additional costs not included in their reports. Use companies in similar markets to gage how much you should expect to pay.

  • Once you find a lobbyist, there are several things to remember to include in your contract. Most importantly, you need to carefully describe the scope of the work for which you are contracting. Most client-lobbyist relationships founder on a misunderstanding of exactly why the lobbyist was hired. Spell it out in as much detail as possible. And make clear how the lobbyist will let you know what is going on and how often.

  • Avoid the bait-and-switch technique, when a high-level lobbyist with a recognized name makes the initial pitch and then rarely, if ever, services the account again. Specify in writing precisely who will be performing the work and in what proportion.

  • Most lobbyists and clients prefer a monthly fee. It keeps costs from fluctuating, and is usually a win-win for both sides, unless there is more work required than had been anticipated.

  • Every lobbying contract should have a standard exit clause, allowing either party to terminate the business relationship with a 30, 60, or 90 day notice. Most lobbyists prefer a contract that runs for at least a year.

  • Multi-year contracts often produce long-term relationships which can be beneficial for the client.

Adapted from T.R. Goldman, Congressional correspondent for Legal Times.


Evaluating your nonprofit's lobbyist

There is no one set of performance guidelines that provides certainty regarding such evaluation. However, there are a number of performance clues related to a lobbyist’s activities that can help you judge how well your lobbyist is serving your organization.
Download a PDF of evaluating your nonprofit's lobbyist

Public Policy Planning Checklist

Whether you work for a for-profit business, a nonprofit organization, or a government agency, adequate planning is key to any successful public policy program. First, identify your current infrastructure and your assets, as well as your future needs. Second, develop your issues with goals and targets, and identify your allies and expected impact. Third, identify your available funds and potential funding sources. A lasting program needs its own budget. Compliance with lobbying laws is also key, as are it’s associated costs. Fourth, prepare your board, staff, membership and key volunteers for engagement in public policy. Develop a committee consistent with your organization’s mission statement and core values Incorporate all of this into your organization’s strategic plan and budget. Fifth, develop an action plan and stick to it. Convene meetings within your organization and with the broader community. These five points are merely the basics.
Download a PDF of a public policy planning cheecklist


Weiser's Top 5 Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits

  1. Fundraising is about relationships, not transactions.
    Take the time to get to know your donors and to let them get to know you. Trust doesn't happen instantly, so don't expect your donors and potential donors to immediately have faith in you or your organization. Make sure you deliver on your promises, and communicate your successes to your supporters so that their faith and trust will grow.

  2. Match your solicitors to the size of their own contributions.
    If you have a volunteer or staff solicitor who donates $100 per year, don't expect that person to ask someone for $10,000 per year. Solicitations should reflect the personal commitment of the one asking. Donors want to identify with those asking them for their support, so don't expect a donor to contribute more than you have given yourself.

  3. The Board gives first.
    Without the commitment of 100% of your Board of Directors and executive-level staff, your campaign is less likely to be successful. After all, why should a donor support your organization if those closest to it aren't supporting it? When a donor asks what portion of your Board gives to the organization (and many will), you want to honestly be able to say 100%. Everyone on your Board can afford to give something, even if it's a small donation.

  4. Be transparent.
    Donors are smart. More and more, donors are looking at financial information, annual reports, and program outcomes. They want to see how their money is being used and how it is improving their community. Make sure you have your annual financial information (audits and 990s) on your website and have copies available for anyone who requests it. And make sure you understand it and can explain it.

  5. Treat every donor as if they were a major donor, because they just might turn out to be one.
    Thank your donors, no matter how small their commitment. You liked to be thanked when you do something good, and so do your donors. A properly thanked donor of $1 today could eventually turn into a large donor sometime in the future. Remember Tip No. 1 above, and remember that every donation, no matter how large or small, is an opportunity to establish an ongoing relationship with someone who, when engaged with your mission and vision, will want to invest in it.


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