RESULTS Regional Coordinators Plan for Impact in 2014
Every year-end, the Regional Coordinators from around the country meet face-to-face for an intense weekend of reviewing, brainstorming and planning with the RESULTS staff. What a diverse bunch of interesting volunteers the Regional Coordinators are! There are 13 volunteer and 4 staff Regional Coordinators for 2014. We come from both coasts, the Midwest and the South. Many have been involved with RESULTS for more than twenty years, and a few for considerably less. Most have grandchildren, which probably says a lot about our longevity.
We RCs were honored with a reception at the new RESULTS office. Nearly the entire RESULTS staff was there. What fun to hang out with such dynamic young adults! We got to talk with many of the newer staff members and came away very impressed for the future for RESULTS. And the new RESULTS office is awesome! Located on the 12th floor, it’s about as high up as you can be in Washington, DC. A unique aspect of this city is the height restriction of no building being higher than the Washington Monument. It ensures that there are no skyscrapers within the district.
We spent all day Saturday in the corner conference room. It has external windows on two sides, a floor to ceiling white board wall and internal windows separating the conference room from the rest of the offices. During the discussions, planning and brainstorming; the entire white board was filled up and erased multiple times. Digital cameras made capturing the information before moving on the new areas of discussion easy.
We began the morning with an excellent presentation from staff member Carly Pildis on getting in touch with your public narrative. We were taught and practiced elements that make a public narrative personal. Shared values are more important than issue content for bringing an audience to your point of view. An emotional connection is more memorable rather than compelling evidence.
Next we heard the campaign summaries and calendars for 2014 and noted that 2014 group planning would begin in December with the objective of each group having a plan by the January 11 national conference calls. We spent the rest of Saturday morning reviewing the 2013 goal-projects we had set last year’s retreat. Each of the five project teams reported the progress made on their goal subject and the strategies used toward achieving them.
Expansion: Growing the number of RESULTS chapters and the members within existing chapters has been a measured success. Besides creating new chapters, expansion strategies have focused on health of existing RESULTS chapters. Key efforts toward expansion have been in outreach on college campuses. In 2013 there were over 100 REAL Change scholarships to the RESULTS International Conference. Continuity with these young people continues to be a growing edge. Regional and community based outreach events have had greater success in attracting continuing members.
Face-to-Face Meetings with Members of Congress: Getting face-to-face with members of Congress in covered districts has been less successful with Republicans than with Democrats. However, persistence in developing a relationship with ANY member is essential.
Group Leader Training: Training modules are in various states of readiness. Training is both a push and pull proposition: staff and RCs must promote training; group leaders must commit to learning at the chapter level. Some training modules can be presented at a regional conference as a workshop. Other aspects of Group Leader training are coaching in nature and need to be individualized for the particular situation. The body of work on Group Leader training will go forward in 2014 on a trial and improve basis.
Building Bipartisan Champions: The current environment in Congress has been challenging; some members of Congress have had enough and are leaving! 2014 is an election year, and it will be an important one for developing the kind of relationships with candidates that could lead to them becoming champions on RESULTS issues. Bird-dogging candidates can be the easiest way to approach them at their public events and raise awareness and credibility for our issues. For existing, hard-to-reach members of Congress, we need deeper understanding on how to talk to them from their perspective.
Media: Success in print journalism has seen a big increase in 2013 over 2012, particularly with domestic issues. Certain partners have become real stars in generating letters to the editor and op-eds. We will need to build a network of community practice to encourage more participation. It should be seen as a process that continues whether or not it leads to publication. Follow-up on media hits is also a process that feeds back to partners and politicians.
On Saturday, we moved to 2014 goals brainstorming and selection. An important consideration for us: how will the goals empower people and make them feel connected? After extended conversation and voting we reached consensus on the focus for the coming year. We self-selected ourselves for membership on the newly formed teams to help our grassroots embrace and reach these goals. The goals are to increase Congressional coverage, help advocate retention through the deepening of overall leadership and training, increasing face-to-face meetings with members of Congress, and increasing impact in the media. After a pizza dinner and a fun team-building game of reverse charades, we were done with the day!
It was really a pleasure to be back together the next morning after such a productive day on Saturday. We finished the 2014 goal definitions by discussing measurements and strategies for achieving them. We also had an inspiring Skype presentation and discussion led by staff members Cindy Changyit Levin and Jen DeFranco on fundraising. The concluding session had us all sharing what we all learned from our experience together. Our conclusion? The 2013 Regional Coordinator Retreat left us with renewed spirits for the 2014 goal of becoming an even more powerful as an organization in ending the worst aspects of poverty.