News & Articles

Lessons Learned

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

“The closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, describing the “10,000 hour rule.”


What It Really Means To Run A PAC Fundraising Campaign Within A Member Company

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

By Bridget Sewell
Senior Director of Political Engagement, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

In 2015, with Sagac Public Affairs as its partner, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America PAC (PCI PAC), began to rethink the way it conducted fundraising campaigns within member companies.

Three factors contributed to this effort, but one made it a success: trust.

One reason we knew we needed to make some changes was because our industry was experiencing a higher than average number of CEO retirements. The chief executives taking over were excited about PCI and about partnering with the organization on state and federal issue advocacy. However, they weren’t as familiar with PCI PAC and we needed to educate them. (more…)

Expert Insight: Brandy Stacks, Prudential Financial

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Brandy Stacks is Director of Government Affairs for Prudential Financial, Inc. In her role, Brandy runs the firm’s political action committees and serves as the point person for many of Prudential’s external affairs initiatives. Click here to learn more about Brandy.

“The key to this business is relationships.” – Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire


“It is best not to swap horses while crossing the river.”

Monday, January 9th, 2017

— President Abraham Lincoln, June 1864

Article by Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

It’s almost cliché at this point to say it, but here it is: we have just come through what was perhaps the most unpredictable election cycle in modern history. Much of the media, the American electorate, and, of course, the polling industry are still asking, “What happened and what does it mean for future campaigns?” (more…)

Data Management Professional: Jordan Edmund

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The key to good decision-making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the increasing amounts of data being collected and utilized for political action committee marketing. Human resource and membership files generally contain enormous amounts of valuable data about employees and members. However, getting the most from your data can be a challenge. (more…)

Apples to Apples: The Value of a RFP Process for PAC Services

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is an invitation for vendors to submit a proposal to provide a specific product or service. It is intended to provide the supplier with the necessary information needed to submit a definitive approach to delivery of some or all of your program functions for your political committee. Generally, these functions include marketing and fundraising, compliance, technology, event management or other critical components of your program.

A bidding process is one of the best methods for leveraging your organization’s negotiating ability and purchasing power with vendors and consultants. The RFP is the most important and widely used document in the proposal stage of that process regarding outsourcing. The ultimate objective of the RFP process is for you to ensure you are getting the most value for the services and products you are seeking to outsource.

Numerous RFP best practices have been identified by surveys, studies and practical experience of outsourcing parties. Here are some to consider. (more…)

The Path to Valuable, Actionable Data

Monday, September 26th, 2016

It’s easy to get excited about “Big Data” and advanced analytics. They’re a couple of flashy buzzwords not a lot of people know much about. New technology and research methodologies help organizations do things they couldn’t do before. But capability alone doesn’t translate directly to added value. In my years of market research and data analytics, I’ve seen many political committees struggle to create value from the data they collect. Why do they fail to discover value from their data? Because they fail to follow a simple five-step process, anyone can implement. (more…)

Get the resources you need to grow your political program

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them … Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”Denis Waitley

Labor Day has come and gone and most organizations are now setting spending priorities for the next calendar year. Are you sitting around sipping your last summer margarita and waiting for your boss to outline for you what resources you’ll get? Or are you having meaningful conversations with him or her about what you’ll need in 2017? (more…)

Find a partner that’s invested in your political action program

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

“To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.” — CONFUCIUS

Political strategists usually favor Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and his Art of War over Confucius, but things might run a bit smoother in the nation’s capital, and in our state capitals, if we all lived by the maxim above. To succeed—whether in a political or grassroots campaign, or in your goal of growing your PAC and political engagement program—it’s important to acknowledge what you know and what you don’t know, and even to acknowledge where your organization might be limited by its imagination. (more…)

Score during your next fly-in

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

The NBA Championships are well underway and so is the planning and implementation of legislative action days (LADs) by associations and corporations. Lobbyists will work in tandem with the organization’s policy experts and its public relations personnel to execute a schedule that will educate lawmakers about legislative goals and illustrate the economic and personal impact of them. (more…)

Successful PAC Prior Approval Campaigns

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Trey Richardson, Managing Partner
Sagac Public Affairs, LLC

Revised: September 18, 2015

Despite the critical importance of prior approval, few trade associations have mastered the science of gathering approvals from member-corporations. This activity must be performed before implementing solicitations for political action committees (PACs). Moreover, prior approval is frequently looked upon as one of the most difficult jobs in the fundraising process for PAC professionals. Dread often stems from a lack of understanding by association members and an inexperienced staff. However, the task at hand becomes much more feasible when people are well educated and start to experience success. (more…)

Easy steps to educate and engage your members or employees

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”
– Winston Churchill

It’s the second quarter in a non-election year. You might be looking at disappointing open rates for grassroots action alerts or lagging a bit in quarterly PAC fundraising targets. If so, you’re probably frustrated and wondering how to motivate your audience. (more…)

How To Create & Implement A Successful Direct Giving Program

Monday, February 16th, 2015

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

What Is A Direct Giving Program? Congratulations – your corporate or association PAC is one of the nation’s largest donors to federal candidates and your success rate in competitive races is the envy of other PAC directors. So after setting even higher receipt and participation goals for the next election cycle, what’s next? How do you enhance the culture of giving in your company or association? (more…)

Start Planning For The Next Election Cycle Today

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

“[The world] is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. … But it ain’t how hard you’re hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. … That’s how winning is done.”
— Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa (2006)

Winning is about fighting on, but what Stallone didn’t say is this: Rocky always fought with a strategy. He knew when to duck and jab … but had a plan if he found himself on the ropes.

The same applies to politics and advocacy, and your PAC. (more…)

Successful Get Out To Vote Campaigns

Monday, April 7th, 2014

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

This November, there are 435 U.S. House and 36 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs. Thirty-six governors face reelection, as do thousands of state legislators. There are also tens of thousands of other statewide officials, city council members and mayors who will be on the ballot. 2014 isn’t a presidential year, but there are plenty of opportunities for your members, employees and customers to vote this year and ways you can help them to exercise their civic duty. Below are five key elements for a successful Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign: (more…)

Maximizing Your Get Out To Vote Campaign

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

By Dan Ekstein, Sagac Public Affairs

This November, there are 435 U.S. House and 36 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs. Thirty-six governors face reelection, as do thousands of state legislators. There are also tens of thousands of other statewide officials, city council members and mayors who will be on the ballot. 2014 isn’t a presidential year, but there are plenty of opportunities for your members, employees and customers to vote this year and ways you can help them to exercise their civic duty. Below are Sagac’s five key elements for a successful Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign: (more…)

Peer-to-Peer Potential: The Keys to Unlock the Power of Your PAC

Monday, November 4th, 2013

By Paige Pantlik and Lauren Rahill, Sagac Public Affairs

Increasingly, more and more political action committees (PACs) are achieving exponential success thanks to an interactive and employee-based solicitation program. Peer-to-Peer programming is one of the most effective ways for PACs to increase both membership and funds, while also ensuring their message reaches as many eligible donors as possible. In the shifting and competitive environment of American political fundraising, a Peer-to-Peer program is a must. (more…)

8 Steps to a Successful PAC Prior Approval Campaign

Friday, September 16th, 2011

By Trey Richardson

Master the science of gathering approvals from member-corporations—an activity that must be performed before implementing PAC solicitations—with this easy eight-step approach. By following a specific plan to contact members within specific timeframes via a multichannel approach, you’ll avoid a lot of the stress usually related to this type of requirement and begin your PAC solicitation in compliance with the rules of the Federal Election Commission. (more…)

Information Security Matters

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Information Security Matters

Information systems security is of utmost importance, especially within political campaigns where protocols are rarely followed and security breaches are common. Following the guidelines listed below will help prevent a breach and deter potential security risks that can cost you valuable time, money and the election if you’re not careful. (more…)

By the Numbers: The math behind a successful leadership call program

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

By the Numbers: The math behind a successful leadership call program

In spite of the critical importance of candidates and leadership making major donor calls, frequently it is looked upon as one of the most unpleasant, difficult jobs in politics. A lot of the dread stems from a lack of understanding and inexperience. However, as you well know, things begin to seem much more pleasant to people when they start to meet with success. To illustrate this, we have created this simple model based on our 20 years of experience in campaign and PAC fundraising to show you the success that can be achieved through candidate and leadership call time for political fundraising. (more…)

Contribution Trends in State and Federal Elections

Friday, July 30th, 2010

The amount of money being poured into political campaigns is flourishing. This new report takes a look at the past 20 years of data to develop a forecast for the next decade’s contribution trends at the state and federal levels among candidates, parties and political action committees.


The Corporate PAC Challenge

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Does your companies political action committee meet the challenge?

If you answer “No” to more than 9 of the following questions, then chances are that your political action committee is in need of a little attention. If you answer “No” to more than 16, it’s extremely likely that you’re in need of a major PAC overhaul.


Introducing a Fundraising Campaign

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Why do so many fundraising campaigns fail? The reasons are many: Because organizations often are so enamored by their campaign ideas that they fail to do their research, or they ignore what the research tells them; sometimes the message or the distribution channels are wrong; sometimes the marketing doesn’t communicate the right messages to invoke action. Successful campaign launches result from an integrated process that relies heavily on research and pre-planning. Let’s review several of the critical issues that affect campaign introductions. (more…)

Practice Makes Perfect – 2010 Corporate Best Practices Study

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

There are many established principles of best practices relative to political action committee accountability, ethics, governance, finance, programming and public disclosure. While the culture of each political action committee is different, every organization should use some form of these principles as a guide for strengthening effectiveness and accountability.

During March 2010, Sagac Public Affairs put these principles and the corporate PAC community to the test (more…)

Over the Rainbow

Friday, March 12th, 2010

In an effort to escape from her ordinary life in Kansas, Dorothy Gale dreams of a better place somewhere over the rainbow.  Miraculously, a tornado bears down on she and Toto and they ascend to the wonderful Land of Oz.  Voters reenact this dream from time to time during US elections.  Consider the following:


Planning for Success

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Identifying goals and turning them into action plans that are executed within your organization all but guarantees the success of PAC marketing programs. An action plan is a document that begins with goals and identifies all of the steps required to achieve them. (more…)

PAC Assessment and Auditing

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Measure Everything

Sagac uses the country’s leading experts in fundraising, management and FEC compliance to prepare your organization for success through assessment and auditing of your political action committee. (more…)

Never Try to Teach a Pig How to Sing: And six other rules for fundraising

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Get in harmony with the prospect

Some people contribute not so much because they believe strongly in the cause than because they want to help, or please, the person who asks for the contribution.  It is easier to support an existing cause to which you are asked to participate, than to create a cause you identified on your own.  Finding support among prospects is made easier if the solicitor can find common ground with the prospect.  Examples of common ground may include similar educational, business or life experiences you share with a prospective donor.  While it would be nice to believe that all donors contribute because they understand the campaign, individual or organization fully and believe in its purposes and goals, in truth, some people only contribute because they  want  to help or to please the solicitor.  It’s a lot easier to give to someone you like and know, than someone you don’t. (more…)

In-Kind Fundraisers: The Path to Power Begins with Compliance

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Competition for political power in Washington, DC is at an all-time high.  One way to get a political “leg-up” on your competition is to host in-kind fundraisers for members of Congress and candidates for Federal office.  Not only do in-kind fundraisers provide you and your organization much-sought-after face time with Congressmen, but positions you as the pivotal political player within your industry. (more…)

Fundraising Methodology Uncovered

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

According to a recent study of America’s top business political action committees, the most effective technique for fundraising is one-on-one solicitation. Although one-on-one solicitation is time consuming, most professionals agree that, while certain other techniques may be more productive in raising money from a larger number of people, one-on-one solicitation almost always is the most effective way to get a contribution from any one individual.

To find out more about business PACs or how your efforts rank, click here.

Low-Cost Strategies for Your PAC

Monday, August 24th, 2009

A low-cost strategy has paved the road to success for many political action committees. The key to success using a low-cost strategy is to deliver the expected level of value to members and employees at a cost that assumes an adequate level of continued receipt growth. (more…)

Hitting Your Mark

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

As a political action committee professional, I’ve spent my fair share of time digging out from some common pitfalls PAC managers make. As a fundraising consultant for these same operations, I’ve observed that many PAC managers continue to encounter those same mistakes in their quest for success.

By far, the most prevalent of these traps, particularly among PAC managers with a public policy background, is mistaking the ability to manage government affairs operations with the ability to market a PAC to members, employees or the public. Each requires different skill sets. (more…)

The Human Element

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Many believe that PAC strategy and implementation of action plans are a mechanical process:  Just develop a blueprint of action steps, tell people to execute those steps, and check periodically for progress.  The reality is that people are the most important part of implementation, and harnessing their energy and commitment to the PAC and its initiatives is often a PAC manager’s greatest challenge. (more…)

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