Since 1996, Power to Decide has worked to ensure young people have access to trusted, high-quality sexual and reproductive health information and services and to create more opportunities for young people to achieve their goals. This non-partisan group has seen historic declines in teen and unplanned pregnancy rates over its decades of work.
In a climate where sexual and reproductive health laws are shifting, this three-person government affairs department closely relies on FiscalNote’s suite of products to stay on top of issues and keep the public informed.
Small Team, Huge Issues
There is a huge variety of issues the Power to Decide government affairs team focuses on: contraceptive access and coverage at a federal and state level, policy related to abortion, protecting the Title X Family Planning Program, and funding sexual health education, among others.
At the federal level, FiscalNote’s products are “invaluable,” says Rachel Fey, vice president of policy and strategic partnerships at Power to Decide. The team uses FiscalNote Knowlegis to contact Congress and tailor emails to specific members. “We also monitor our involvement in different issues to help with lobby reporting and reports for our board,” Fey says.
It’s wild to think about how you would monitor all this if you didn’t have FiscalNote’s tools. They help us appear and behave like a bigger government affairs shop and be able to do more with less.Rachel Fey, Vice president of policy and strategic partnerships
Power to Decide
Staying on Top of Their Issues Across All 50 States
At a state level, this powerful technology has served the team well this year because of the “chaos we’re experiencing in terms of volume” of policies related to their issues, Fey says.
Every morning, Mancini uses FiscalNote to look at the latest action taken on state-level abortion and contraception bills, knowing that new laws may be going into effect at any time. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we pride ourselves on being accurate,” she says. “We want to stay that way.”
Using FiscalNote to find out about upcoming hearings, search for CRS reports, and receive alerts during the busy appropriations season allows this small team to stay nimble while tackling a high volume of issues.
“Knowing what’s going on in the states is helpful to make sure we’re ahead of the game, know what restrictions and laws will be in effect, and can share that promptly with consumers,” says Tara Mancini, Power to Decide’s director of public policy.
“It’s wild to think about how you would monitor all this if you didn’t have FiscalNote’s tools,” Fey says. “They help us appear and behave like a bigger government affairs shop and be able to do more with less.”
Knowlegis is so much better in terms of ability to communicate with the Hill than competitors. There’s no question: we can’t go with another service for that reason alone.Rachel Fey, Vice president of policy and strategic partnerships
Power to Decide
Forming Relationships with Members of Congress
FiscalNote Knowlegis provides a way to start building relationships, even over a short period of time, with messages that look like they came from an individual, rather than a mass mailing tool, and an easy-to-use message builder.
“I've had the ability to start building relationships with some offices over a short period of time because people have seen my name and they've reached out after the Supreme Court leak to say they want to get involved,” Mancini says. “People start associating your organization with these issues and coming to us as a resource.”
Having a trustworthy system for communication with the Hill is crucial, and most other tools cause the sender’s message to get stuck in staff’s spam filters. “Knowlegis is so much better in terms of ability to communicate with the Hill than competitors,” Fey says. “There’s no question: we can’t go with another service for that reason alone.”
Fey started using Knowlegis in 2010 and heavily relies on it to store her notes about interactions with members of Congress, especially because of the high level of staff turnover on the Hill. “When somebody new comes in, it’s so helpful to have a record of all our interactions and conversations,” she says. “It’s a huge timesaver and helps us do a better job of logging everything.”
Empowering Advocates With VoterVoice
Mancini received a 2021 Excellence in Advocacy Award from Women in Government Relations for her work using VoterVoice, FiscalNote’s advocacy platform. The award was for her work in “expanding contraceptive access through bipartisan state-level policies and an online toolkit to support policymakers, state officials, and advocates.”
Mancini created this contraceptive access toolkit with interactive maps that show which states are advancing certain policies around contraception. “It was a toolkit with a lot of resources to educate folks so they can lobby at the local level,” Mancini says.
VoterVoice has been a powerful tool for the team, especially the metrics they’re able to track for more detailed reports. VoterVoice’s other resources, such as webinars and the annual advocacy benchmark report, also provide professional development opportunities and help the team learn “what will resonate with folks and how we can better take action,” Fey says.
Power to Decide advocates are empowered to take action on the issues that matter to them with the help of VoterVoice. With the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, it was very important that advocates contact their senators and let them know their thoughts, Fey says. “The Senate has never taken a proactive vote on abortion access — certainly not in decades. That vote was a really big deal.”
Advocates found VoterVoice easy and quick to use, and the most recent push saw 7,000 messages from 2,100 advocates. “We were trying to add to that chorus, and we got a remarkable pickup,” Fey says. “The ability to help folks easily take action, with only a few minutes of their time, has been really great; and seeing the kinds of things that resonate with folks has been really interesting and sometimes surprising.”
On the backend, VoterVoice is easy to use and allows the Power to Decide team to see which senators were getting calls from advocates. Having metrics that show how many people were contacting members of Congress based on a call to action also allowed the government affairs team to track what was resonating with advocates and to show impact, “which is really important for me as I talk to our board and our funders that want to understand how we’re actually moving the needle,” Fey says.
On top of that, VoterVoice is a budget-friendly solution, making it accessible for organizations of all sizes. “VoterVoice is a very affordable product for what it does, which is really important for us as a nonprofit without a huge annual budget,” Fey says.
What we’re trying to do is tell the story of how much work we did and what, in turn, policymakers did. FiscalNote makes it easy to track these things.Rachel Fey, Vice president of policy and strategic partnerships
Power to Decide
Reports that Show Meaningful Impact
FiscalNote’s reporting functionalities have also been “incredibly helpful” in allowing the Power to Decide government affairs team to show their ROI and the direct impact their work is having. “We’re in the middle of figuring out our long-term goals, and metrics is a part of that: number of concrete actions we took, number of actions policymakers took, and any policy change we see,” Fey says.
It’s easy to map stakeholders, track engagements, and report on progress with FiscalNote. Reports are at your fingertips to highlight your team’s latest actions, which stakeholders were involved, and the issues being prioritized.
These reporting tools allow the Power to Decide team to draw a line from policymaker engagement to concrete policy changes. “With our state contraceptive act work, we have a sense of how many times our toolkit is being used and whether it leads to a bill being introduced or moving,” Fey says. “What we’re trying to do is tell the story of how much work we did and what, in turn, policymakers did. FiscalNote makes it easy to track these things.”
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