As a leading voice in the real estate finance industry, MBA invests significant time and resources in driving the industry's response to the policy issues and challenges their businesses face.
Representing an industry of more than 280,000 employees and 2,100 member companies, the small but mighty political affairs team runs the Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA), MBA’s grassroots lobbying network responsible for strengthening the industry’s voice and supporting the association’s broader legislative and regulatory agenda.
As with most other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the real estate finance system. MAA rose to the challenge and provided value to its members during times of extreme uncertainty by leveraging FiscalNote’s flagship advocacy solution VoterVoice. During the first few months of the pandemic, MBA tripled its advocacy base and favorably moved legislation to support COVID-19-impacted homeowners and rental property owners.
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Active and consistent participation in grassroots efforts is hard to attain, but with a public health crisis rising, economic activity stalling, and the closing down of schools, office spaces, and places of business, people were a captive audience. “The interest in advocacy turned on tenfold,” says Alden Knowlton, associate vice president of political affairs at MBA. As a result, 2020 brought a surge of membership growth for the Mortgage Action Alliance. “Peer-to-peer engagement is incredibly effective, and that's really where we have seen a lot of growth,” she adds. On top of that, VoterVoice’s ability to have people quickly and easily sign up via an online form or text-to-join functionality made a big difference in growing their grassroots network.
Earlier in the year, MBA’s transition to FiscalNote’s comprehensive digital advocacy platform, VoterVoice, helped the association grow their grassroots network by 50,000 individuals 𑁋 more than tripling their network from the year prior. “That's a big credit to VoterVoice, as well as just making that process much easier. People really were signing up in masses 𑁋 every other minute,” she notes.
Pushing Consistent Messaging and Communications Across the Organization and Beyond
Like many other organizations, MBA had been managing their grassroots network with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. The problem was that traditional CRMs are not built for advocacy and grassroots initiatives. As such, MBA’s inability to effectively grow and engage their advocacy base became more and more evident. As the need to shift strategies became increasingly apparent, MBA made VoterVoice their primary database of record.
“One of the things that really helped us was being able to move full-time to VoterVoice, both from a data management perspective and also communications,” says Knowlton, “and we've seen that help increase participation immensely.”
Not only do advocates need to be educated on the issues at hand, but they also need to be armed with talking points that are consistent with MBA’s overall communications strategy. With VoterVoice, Knowlton’s team is able to push alerts to their entire advocate base on priority issues, moving them to a personalized action page 𑁋 in a single click 𑁋 that includes customized messaging, key stakeholders to contact, and recommended next steps.
Engaging and Activating a Growing Member Base
With the pandemic worsening and headlines turning into realities, people tended to listen more. Advocacy was surely growing but “it's not enough to have a lot of members if they're not going to be ready to act when called upon,” Knowlton says.
Like many others, MBA was challenged with activating the growing base they fostered over the course of the past several months. “Our biggest hurdle and challenge at the start of 2020 was making sure we're seen as an effective program and a valuable resource, while also contemplating how to grow, how to engage, and how to pivot and deliver,” adds Knowlton.
In June 2020, the Mortgage Action Alliance successfully engaged members to defeat two pieces of legislation in California that would have had detrimental impacts on the commercial and residential lending markets. Nearly 3,500 Californians sent messages to their elected officials opposing the bills. With VoterVoice’s segmenting features, MBA could easily follow up with members who lived in key districts, provide them with targeted talking points, and help them call their elected officials directly.
Two months later, MBA activated advocates in response to a sudden federal agency announcement imposing a detrimental fee on lending and homeownership. With messaging already buttoned up and tens of thousands of members ready to act, MBA successfully garnered nation-wide engagement.
“We had 23,500 people take action; we sent over 85,000 messages to Congress on this; we had every Senator and 99 percent of Representatives contacted, and ultimately they decided to delay the implementation of the fee and put some parameters around affordable housing,” says Knowlton.
“We had kind of primed the pump, if you will, and reiterated to them that what they're doing is important and then when this issue came up, we had leaders in the industry ready to go to blast this around and say ‘Hey take action, it takes 30 seconds,’” she adds.
Scaling with VoterVoice
This monumental achievement for MBA highlights their expanded reach to their advocates 𑁋 marking their highest rate of participation to date. “I think VoterVoice software is a major reason,” Knowlton adds.
MBA’s comprehensive approach to grassroots advocacy this past year generated a strong opposition to defeat policies that would have otherwise been harmful to its members and the consumers they serve. The political affairs team and organization at large successfully leveraged FiscalNote’s VoterVoice to proactively build and launch campaigns, track progress, mobilize supporters, and ultimately provide value to its members during unprecedented times.
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