The boom in digital advocacy launched by the pandemic in March is still going strong, with companies, associations and nonprofits urging Congress to address various COVID relief measures.
Conversations continue in Congress over a bill to take on major issues such as benefit checks for millions of unemployed Americans, an eviction moratorium for renters, liability protections and aid to states and cities. Republicans and Democrats are stalemated over how much to spend and how to allocate the money.
President Trump signed a series of executive orders to address some of these issues, but Democrats and analysts questioned how effective the measures will be. Experts say a federal bill will be required to provide muscular financial relief.
The outcome has major implications for the election, where perceptions over the government’s response to the pandemic are likely to sway voters. It also represents an opportunity for advocacy organizations to push for measures they feel are important. DoorDash, The Arc, ONE and others have all launched campaigns.
“The COVID Effect that set advocacy records earlier this year is not likely to subside,” said Ximena Hartsock, co-founder of Phone2Action. “Organizations first focused on federal relief bills, then turned their attention to the states. Now, they are focused back in Washington. There are real needs out there and this is not going to end anytime soon.”
Leading the Charge
The emergency declaration March 13 created an advocacy boom in which hundreds of organizations launched more than 1,000 campaigns. In the four weeks that followed, 2.4 million people took action, according to Phone2Action’s State of Advocacy data. Three quarters of them—1.8 million people—were new advocates.
Organizations representing frontline workers and industries hit hardest led the charge as Congress passed three three bills allocating more than $3 trillion. Now, lawmakers are considering a fourth relief bill that could allocate trillions more and a new set of organizations are stepping forward.
DoorDash, the popular food delivery service, launched a campaign urging Congress to pass the Restaurants Act, a bill that would create a $120B stabilization fund for independently owned restaurants hit hard by the pandemic. The campaign has moved more than 47,000 people to take action, producing more than 95,000 messages to Congress.
The Arc, a community-based organization that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, launched a campaign under the hashtag #WeAreEssential that asks Congress to include the disables community in COVID relief benefits.
The organization wants the bill to contain dedicated funding for Medicaid home- and community-based services for disabled Americans; personal protective equipment and paid leave for caregivers; and stimulus payments for people with disabilities. The organization has mobilized more than 10,500 people who have generated more than 29,000 messages to Congress.
ONE, an organization working to end extreme poverty and preventable disease worldwide, is calling for the U.S. to increase international aid to shut down the pandemic in other countries. The campaign drew more than 3,000 supporters who sent more than 9,500 communiques to Congress.
“It is the smart thing to do,” the campaign says. “The virus isn’t paying attention to borders or geographies and it’s going to keep going until we shut it down—everywhere. Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.”
While Democrats and Republicans continue to debate, organizations should take the opportunity to mobilize their supporters around a potential relief bill. This legislation could affect almost every American, as well as employers, states and municipalities. If your audience has a stake in the outcome, now is the time to represent their interests and show your organization’s value.
More people are getting active than ever before. But it’s up to you to engage them.
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