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PPA 503 – The Public Policy Making Process. Lecture 7c – How to Ask for Action or Propose Policy on Behalf of a Group. Introduction. Goal

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Ppa 503 the public policy making process

PPA 503 – The Public Policy Making Process

Lecture 7c – How to Ask for Action or Propose Policy on Behalf of a Group


  • Goal

    • Knowledge of the functions of nongovernmental organizations in public policy processes, and familiarity with nonprofit organizations active in your area of interest.

  • Objective

    • Petitioning or proposing on behalf of an organization or group.

  • Product

    • Brief written policy proposal representing a organization’s advocacy. Length varies according to purposes and situation, but a short proposal is preferred (one to three pages).

  • Scope

    • Content of group’s charter, purpose, or mission to determine the concerns or issues you will address.


  • Strategy: Proposals with this information

    • Desired outcome: What do you want to accomplish? Can you describe it as if it were already accomplished in a future that you want to achieve?

    • Today’s situation: What’s wrong with the present? Why is the action your propose needed? What causes the need?

    • Relevant background: How did the problem arise? What original assumptions are no longer valid? What conditions have changed?

    • Available options: What are the alternative ways of meeting the need? Advantages and disadvantages of each? Costs (money, other) of each?

    • Recommended action: What is the best alternative? Can you briefly argue as to why?

    • Summary: What are the results (referring to the desired future) if requested action is performed?

    • Action items: Who is asked to do what, when, where, and how?

Task 1
Task #1

  • Step one: Identify a need for policy.

    • If you know the need or option, proceed to step 2.

    • If you do not know the need or option, step back to focus before you proceed.

      • Start wherever you need to start: define the problem and pinpoint the issue (discovery), review the history of action and inaction (legislative history), review the arguments (range of positions), or use the method in Chapter 2 to reconsider the policy context as well as the communication situation for your proposal.

Task 11
Task #1

  • Step two: Specify the action and the agency.

    • Determining the needed action – knowing what is possible, knowing whom to ask, and knowing what to ask for – is not easy. “What am I trying to do” and “How can it do it most effectively.”

Task 12
Task #1

  • Step two: Specify the action and the agency.

    • Consider the options for action.

      • Government action

        • What do you want government to do? (legislate, spend, regulate and enforce within limits).

        • What type of action is needed for the problem you are concerned about?

        • To which level of government – federal, state, local – should you direct your proposal.

        • Which department or agency can do what you want to accomplish?

      • Nongovernmental options.

        • Does the solution require government action at all?

Task 2
Task #2

  • Identify the organizations active on your issue.

    • Check the local phone directory, or ask local volunteer services about local nonprofits or local affiliates of national and international nonprofits.

    • Ask a librarian for national guides to nonprofit organizations.

    • Read the transcripts of congressional hearings on your issue to find witnesses who spoke on behalf of advocacy groups.

    • Search newspaper databases for articles on your issue that might refer to advocacy groups.

Task 21
Task #2

  • Identify the organizations active on your issue.

    • Search WWW portals for nonprofit organizations.

      • Institute for Nonprofit Management: http://inom.org.

      • Nonprofit Online News: http://news.gilbert.org.

      • Nonprofit Nuts & Bolts: http://www.nutsbolts.org.

      • Internet Nonprofit Center: http://www.nonprofits.org.

      • Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Find a Nonprofit: http://www.mncn.org/find.htm.

      • Idealist.org: http://www.idealist.org.

      • Independent Sector: http://www.independentsector.org.

      • Nonprofit Pathfinder: http://www.indepsec.org/pathfinder/index.html.

Task 22
Task #2

  • Identify the organizations active on your issue.

    • Try these subscription services for details including tax exempt status and financial information on specific nonprofits.

      • Associations Unlimited: http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/AU?locID=syra96044.

      • The Foundation Directory Online: http://lnps.fdncenter.org.

      • Guidestar: http://www.guidestar.org.

Task 23
Task #2

  • You may not need to restrict your search to nonprofits. Private organizations also may have information relevant to your proposal.

Task 3
Task #3

  • Write a policy proposal.

    • Provide only accurate information. To do otherwise destroys your credibility and the credibility of your organization.

    • Use the method of Chapter 2 to prepare, plan, and produce a written proposal.

    • The document’s contents should answer the questions listed under Strategy (but should not slavishly follow the format of the questions).

    • Compare the finished product to the two sets of standards in Chapter 2.

Task 31
Task #3

  • No typical format for policy proposals.

    • If a template is prescribed by the organization, use the template.

    • Otherwise, use the conventions of professional communication.

      • Header that provides identifying information.

      • Overview that summarizes the proposal.

      • Subheaded sections that provide information.

    • Document types: letter, memo, a full-page ad in a newspaper, a publication declaration in costume, or whatever form provides the greatest impact.