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Chief

501(c)(3) and Lobbying - The Basics

501(c)(3) and Lobbying - The Basics

The basic tenet is 501(c)(3) organizations have a strict prohibition against lobbying activities. The premise of 501(c)(3) organizations is they must serve a public purpose and social activities must be "insubstantial". However, there are two sets of rules that apply to lobbying by 501(c)(3) organizations; based on whether they have chosen to file Form 5768 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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Networking - Working with Coalitions

Networking - Working with Coalitions

Coalitions, or networks, are bound together by a common interest. Coalitions range in size from a handful of people to a large number of organizations involving many people. Each group is a distinct organization. As a coalition, they are concerned with a focused mission such as blocking proposed legislation threatening their common interest. Both can work independent of other groups or in collaboration with groups which share the same or similar interests.

Coalitions have the potential to be far more powerful and more skilled than any single organization acting alone. Coalitions bring groups with diverse interests together on a common interest. Their strength lies in the diversity. As the geographical size and complexity of an issue increases, the need to form a coalition increases.

The strength of a coalition is its diversity. That diversity means compromise is necessary. No two groups can be as unified in their thinking as one group is alone. Each group joining a coalition agrees to sacrifice some of its preferences and accept some of their partner's preferences. This compromise increases the chance that together, the strength of numbers and geographical reach, will produce a greater probability of winning on any issue.

The most common method to forming a coalition is identifying other groups who share similar interests. They may share some or all of your interest. They are diverse and their strength is diversity. As long as there is some common objective shared by the groups, potential exists to form a coalition.

The most powerful coalitions are coalitions of "unlikes." These coalitions combine groups which are traditionally on opposite sides of most issues. Ignoring their differences, they agree to come together because they share at least one interest in common. When they agree to work together, that agreement sends a powerful signal to legislators, appointed officials, land managers, and the public. The signal is that on the common issue, these groups realize they need each other. They understand that combining their memberships will mean they have constituents, voters, consumers, and citizens in a larger number of Congressional and/or state legislative districts. This fact alone provides the coalition with more coverage, more right to representation, and more power.

A common concern for groups in a coalition is how to maintain their separate identity and the confidentiality of their membership lists. Privacy can be maintained for each group by permitting them to handle all internal mailing and contact for their organization. Or, a common outside vendor can be used. The common outside vendor (mailing house) would sign a confidentiality agreement and act as an "escrow agent" to maintain the privacy of the individual organization data.

Grassroots organizations are formed because two or more people realize that they are not likely to succeed alone but may win if they work together. Grassroots coalitions are a natural extension of individual organizations; more involvement and a larger reach. Coalitions bring two or more organizations together on a common interest to increase the potential for success.
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Networking - Building a Coalition

Networking - Building a Coalition

Whether your club focus is social interaction or working to save your favorite wheeling area, members are what make it possible. It starts with membership in a local club centering on a shared goal. Soon, you find that others share common concerns about their area of interest and you begin sharing information. You have started "networking", the basic building block of a creating a coalition.

Networks, or coalitions, are devoted to increasing participation by people sharing similar views on issues they face. If you want to have an impact on these issues at any level, local, state or national, answering the questions listed below will help you to achieve your goal. You can do this as a citizen, as a member of a club, as an employee in a business, or as a member of a trade or professional group. The starting point is less important than your willingness to reach out to find and accept others who share your goals and objectives.

Grassroots networks are coalitions of people with diverse interests sharing common goals. While you may disagree on some points, you have shared interest in some common points. Networks and coalitions are about politics. And, politics is about inclusion, not exclusion. Grassroots networks and coalitions are about creating a role for everyone to participate and contribute something to reaching the goal. Matching a willing person's skills to the needs of the task is what builds a grassroots network.
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Bi-Partisan Political Activity - A Primer

Bi-Partisan Political Activity - A Primer

John Stewart
Natural Resource Consultant
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

Whether your club focus is social interaction or working to save your favorite wheeling area, members are what make it possible. It starts with membership in a local club centering on a shared goal. Soon, you find that others share common concerns about their area of interest and you begin sharing information. You have started "networking", the basic building block of a creating a coalition. Soon, you will find yourself in position to engage in political activity; either by contacting you elected representative to talk about an issue of concern or to endorse a bill.

Wheelers are interested in recreation and have spent many hours learning how to drive and fix their rig. While the mechanical skills have been honed, the political skills have been ignored.

The reality is that the quality of your recreation experience is dependent upon how articulate, active, and successful you are in bi-partisan political activity. The following is a "no nonsense" guide to bi-partisan political activity.

1) ALWAYS TALK ABOUT YOUR RECREATION ISSUES AND CONCERNS. During conversations with political staffers, candidates, or elected officials, stick to the topic of your concerns; not party affiliation.

2) TALK ABOUT WHAT HE (or SHE) IS FOR AND WHAT HE (or SHE) IS AGAINST THAT AFFECT YOUR RECREATION OPPORTUNITY. You may be a mechanic, teacher, web designer, or business owner. Talk about your recreation opportunity and how the proposed bill will affect it.

3) DON'T TALK ABOUT OTHER POLITICAL ISSUES OF HIS POLITICAL PARTY. Your concern is a single issue, recreation. Talking about other issues will get you locked into being a party supporter of that candidate or issue.

4) BE SUPPORTIVE OF A CANDIDATE ON ISSUES THAT CONCERN US, EITHER PRO OR CON.

5) NEVER PUBLICLY ENDORSE A CANDIDATE, BUT PRAISE HIS OR HER SUPPORT FOR RECREATION ISSUES. If you endorse someone, you lock yourself in. You become a "Democrat" or "Republican", and the other side will tune you out.

6) NEVER PUBLICLY ENDORSE AN AMENDMENT OR REFERENDUM THAT DOES NOT DIRECTLY AFFECT RECREATION, BUT LEND SUPPORT THROUGH COALITIONS ON ISSUES THAT DO AFFECT RECREATION MEMBERS. Coalitions achieve their strength through diversity. That is where we can leverage recreation positions and ideas.

7) WE MUST HAVE ACCESS TO ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS (OR THEIR STAFF) WHO CAN OFFICIALLY AFFECT US - - - AND THAT MEANS WHO'S IN OFFICE IS WHO WE WANT TO BE INVOLVED WITH - - - WHO WE WANT TO LISTEN TO US.

8) PARTY AFFILIATION IS YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS, AND YOU SHOULD ACT ON IT ANY WAY YOU WANT. HOWEVER, YOU SHOULD COMMUNICATE WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS AND PROMOTE RECREATION ISSUES REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION.

The above are elementary political techniques - - - things that recreationists need to learn more about --- think more about --- and do more about. Bi-partisan activity through coalitions will strengthen all of us.
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Chief

Your Club as a Business – Strategic Planning

Your Club as a Business – Strategic Planning

Management is adapting to change. Planning aids the task of management; adapting to change. Strategic planning is the process of defining the organization's mission, vision, and values. Together, they provide an outline to guide the organization. The mission gives day-to-day relevance for the organization. The vision inspires beyond what may seem possible. And, the core values bind together the members of the organization by defining values that all hold dear.

A quick internet search for "strategic planning" yields many books and articles describing how to do strategic planning. A plan is intentional; a method of doing something that is worked out in detail before it is begun. A plan is a detailed list of steps to be done. A plan starts with a vision, or mission statement, of what is to be accomplished. A plan forces you to clarify your goals and how much money (time) you are willing to commit. A plan determines how you will allocate your time. Time is money and it is the most important asset you can invest. A plan helps you make a wise investment.

Good strategic planning always grounds vision in mission. Both emerge from core values. Visions, like dreams, will change as they are fulfilled. Missions occasionally change to meet new challenges. Core values rarely change. Mission, vision, and values are necessary to determine goals and objectives that come and go over time.

The goal of any vision process is to arrive at a shared vision, one that stake-holders have worked together to create. Individuals define a picture of future success and their roles in it. When built on inclusiveness, shared responsibility, and accountability, the fulfillment of that future vision becomes the dream of the organization as a whole and of every member individually. A strategic plan provides the framework to guide the organization as the future conditions change and can be developed with five fundamental steps.

Step One - Develop the Work Plan. Basically, while a number of issues must be addressed in assessing readiness, the determination to create a strategic plan comes down to whether an organization's leaders are truly committed to the effort, and whether they are able to devote the necessary attention to the "big picture".

This involves five tasks to pave the way for an organized process: 1) identify specific issues or choices that the planning process should address; 2) clarify roles (who does what in the process); 3) create a Planning Committee; 4) develop an organizational profile; and 5) identify the information that must be collected to help make sound decisions.

Step Two - Determine the Mission and Vision. A mission statement is the introduction to your organization. It describes your purpose and focus for being an organization. A mission statement typically describes an organization in terms of:

* Purpose - why the organization exists, and what it seeks to accomplish
* Business - the main method or activity through which the organization tries it fulfill this purpose
* Values - the principles or beliefs that guide an organization's members as they pursue the organization's purpose

While the mission statement summarizes the what, how, and why of the organization, the vision statement presents an image of what the expected accomplishment will look like. It is the vision of the future. Together, the mission and vision statements of an organization are an important step towards creating a shared, coherent idea of what the organization is strategically planning to accomplish.

Step Three - Assessment. The mission and vision are a commitment as to why the organization exists and what it does. Once an organization has committed to why it exists and what it does, it must make a clear assessment of its current situation. The primary element of strategic planning, thinking, and management is an awareness of resources available and the resources necessary to accomplish its mission and vision. Knowing where you are and and what you need is key in successfully responding to changes.

The 'assessment' means obtaining current information about the organization's strengths, weaknesses, and performance that will highlight the critical issues that the organization faces. These are the issues the strategic plan must address. The issues include a variety of concerns, such as funding issues, new program opportunities, changing regulations or changing needs in the customer population. The point is to choose the most important issues to address, generally no more than five to ten critical issues around which to develop the strategic plan.

The assessment should develop a data base of quality information that can be used to make decisions; and a list of critical issues which demand a response from the organization - the most important issues the organization needs to deal with.

Step Four - Developing Strategies, Goals, and Objectives. Once the organization mission has been defined and its critical issues identified, it is time to determine what to do about them in terms of a broad approach to be taken (strategies), and the general and specific results to be sought (the goals and objectives). Strategies, goals, and objectives may come from individual knowledge, group discussion, or formal decision-making techniques. The bottom line is that leadership agrees on the issues, priorities, and steps to address the critical issues.

These are a flexible outline of the organization's strategic directions - the general strategies, long-range goals, and specific objectives of its response to critical issues. They determine how the organization will achieve its mission. As the goals and objectives are 'strategic', they can be modified as the situation changes based on new information or changes in priority.

Step Five - The Strategic Plan

The mission and vision have been defined. The critical issues have been identified. The goals, objectives, and strategies have been agreed upon. Together, these are the elements of the strategic plan. From this plan, operation plans, or detailed action plans, are developed for accomplishing the goals.

As the goals and objectives have been identified, it is easy for leadership to review the actions and determine if changes are needed as question arise or issues change.

The final product is a strategic plan; an outline of who, what, where, when, why, and how and organization will accomplish its defined mission and stated vision. The goals and objectives provide a means to measure success or make necessary changes 'strategic' adjustments to the plan.
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Public Land Access Platform

Public Land Access Platform

1. Access to Public Lands for Multiple-use


We support the concept of responsible multiple-use access to public lands. Multiple-use includes resource development and outdoor recreation (motorized, mechanized and non-motorized). In general, we believe that public lands should be available to benefit all citizens.

We support efforts to identify reasonable limitations based on seasonal or emergency issues. Such limitations need to reflect a clear and present adverse impact to the environment or the public rather than an assumed danger to the environment.

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