Tuesday, May 13, 2008

AAM 2008 Conference Session: Lobbying in the Lead

"Lobbying in the Lead: New Ideas for Strategic Fundraising" focused heavily on an update on federal earmarks. Currently, earmarks are fairly controversial and there is a movement to declare a moratorium on them, but so far that has not happened and in fact earmarks still seem to be somewhat necessary in order to get appropriations passed. They have, however, been greatly reduced--by about 43%. There are now about 11,600 earmarked projects, or $17.2 billion in earmarks out of $3 trillion budget. Roughly $7 billion of those earmarks are for defense, leaving a little over half of the earmarked funds for everything else. There is $18 million in earmarks in the IMLS budget, down from $40 million.

In a nutshell, what all this means is that while earmarks are still an alternative for funding, they should be seen as supplemental rather than a staple.

The good news is, however, that transparency rules now mean that museums can find out more quickly whether they get their earmarks and see who has sponsored various earmarks.

In addition to earmarks, lobbyists are another alternative for museum fundraising. A couple of key points to remember when engaging a lobbyist are to use your other strategic partnerships and sponsorships to help strengthen your case for lobbying and that lobbyist fees are generally $70,000-$350,000 annually and lobbyists are generally paid on a quarterly basis.

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