The Animal Defense League of Arizona is a small, grassroots 32-year old organization operating on a shoestring budget. Their mission is protecting and defending Arizona’s animals through legislation, wildlife protection, animals in entertainment advocacy, and spay and neuter clinics. ADLA relies on dedicated staff and volunteers, and passionate community members. They do a lot with very little. Over 90% of donations to ADLA go directly to program services.
ADLA mobilizes their members during the legislative session to stop bad bills and encourage the passing of good bills affecting animals. To do this, they connect their members to their state representatives. They are “surgical” about connecting their members to the correct representative, according to Board Officer Karen Michael. “If you have large numbers of people calling legislators that are outside of their district, it can backfire – some might become irritated and ignore all the calls. It is important that legislators hear primarily from their own constituents.”
In the early days ADLA would match their members to legislative districts and elected officials using the free lookup tool on their state website and their members’ zip codes. But this didn’t work for 2 reasons:
Volunteers were spending a great amount of time manually matching their members to representatives. Additionally, the results they got back were not always accurate. Zip codes often cross through multiple state legislative districts, and other services will just take a guess at which one is the right one. Karen said, “it was just a mess to do this.”
ADLA believes that it is most strategic to ensure that legislators are contacted by members within their district, as many respond only to their constituents. In the worst cases, legislators who had been on the fence about a bill may ignore all outreach because of being overwhelmed by calls outside their districts. To be more strategic, ADLA began dropping those ambiguous zip codes from their list. “Better that they not contact anyone than bother the wrong legislator.” But because of that, their member engagement and legislative notification dropped.
Karen went searching for a tool that could help. “It was really important that we were strategic with who we sent emails to and what our ask was.” She found District Match. It was quick, accurate, and affordable.
“If you are trying to get a bill passed that’s going to change the landscape of animal welfare, and you want to get as many calls as possible to the right legislators, it becomes crucial to increase your matches and improve your accuracy. But we couldn’t do it if it wasn’t affordable.”
With District Match, ADLA was able to increase member involvement, reduce inaccuracies, and improve the precision and effectiveness of their legislative outreach. This gave volunteers time to do more outreach. In 2017, this helped lead to the passage of the Samaritan Hot Car Bill. This year District Match helped pass a measure to strengthen penalties for egregious animal cruelty in Arizona. “I think it’s by far the best tool we could have for our legislative program.”
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