Colleges and Universities across the country are often dependent on having a voice at the state capitol. When a single bill that cuts funding for education could have a huge impact on the way that your college or university operates dedicating time and energy into advocacy is a must. One of our most active Grassroots Advocacy clients is Clemson University in South Carolina. We’ve asked Beth McInnis, Directory of Advocacy at Clemson University, to share with us her story of how Grassroots Advocacy Technology had helped her university improve their voice at the state capitol.
By Beth McInnis, Director of Advocacy
“Toward the end of every session, Clemson University has a list of issues that are being finalized and will affect the University’s well-being. We spend the entire session (early January to early June) working on Clemson’s interests in the state budget, monitoring key pieces of legislation and keeping abreast of changing policy and regulations.
At the end of the session in early June, we are typically faced with last minute changes in legislation, passage of the state budget and ultimately, gubernatorial budget vetoes. This is when our Advocacy tools from Capitol Impact provide our team with invaluable support. Clemson has utilized an advocacy system from Capitol Impact for 10 years. The Clemson Advocates program is composed of over 4000 active and engaged volunteers who are interested in the well-being of Clemson University and higher education. Using the Capitol Impact database, we are able to harness critical information about the nature of our Advocates’ relationships with their elected officials. These 4000 people have told us who they know in the General Assembly, how they know them, and how they can best serve Clemson in communicating the University’s priorities and interests to their elected officials.
Each week during the legislative session, our Advocates receive a detailed legislative update that includes information on bills we are following and breaking legislation and policy developments that may impact the University or higher education.
With a single email, we can rally all 4000 Clemson Advocates to contact their legislators. We prepare them with background information on the issue at hand, and a short message. Capitol Impact enables us to include a link to their legislator’s contact information from our advocacy system.
Late in the session, a key budget proviso enabling Clemson to generate revenue to operate critical agricultural testing labs was deleted. Without that funding, the testing labs would have had to close. The Clemson Advocates were called upon to communicate the significance of that funding and the importance of the ag testing labs to our state’s farmers. Their response was magnificent. They called and emailed their legislators, then reported feedback to us regarding their conversations. The Senate vote was 38-6 in favor of reinstating our budget proviso.
The Clemson University Governmental Affairs team serves its alma mater (we’re all proud graduates) with a labor of love. The legitimacy our Advocates bring to our efforts is significant. They are constituent volunteers who give generously of their time, energy and devotion to Clemson. Our Advocates are a strong, consistent voice that can be heard above the noise. In the end, a powerful advocacy system and our faithful Advocates helped make for a successful day in the Governmental Affairs Office at Clemson University.
Clemson University has successfully integrated our Grassroots Advocacy System into their advocacy mix. Does your college or university utilize Advocacy Software to engage alumni, faculty, and staff?
To learn more about how your college or university can better engage students, alumni, faculty, and staff, check out our Grassroots Advocacy Online Tour.