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This essay is based on remarks delivered on June 19, 2013 at Heartland’s annual President’s Council Retreat.
The Heartland Institute had a breakthrough year in 2012 and by every measure our rapid growth and program successes are continuing into 2013. Some of our biggest accomplishments last year included:
- We contacted elected officials more than one million times and increased one-on-one contacts with elected officials 35 percent.
- We more than doubled the number of publications we released and tripled attendance at events we hosted.
- Income increased 15 percent from the previous year.
- The number of donors rose a remarkable 471 percent.
- Press hits increased 45 percent and circulation rose 54 percent.
We achieved this record-breaking performance despite Fakegate (the theft of confidential documents and circulation of a forged document by disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick), despite fierce and dishonest attacks on us by liberal organizations and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media, and despite having to compete for funding with political campaigns in a presidential election year.
Our leadership on the issue of global warming has been underscored and confirmed by U.S. Senators, leading publications such as The Economist and Washington Post, environmental groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, and even the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Tools to Win
Results of the first two quarters of 2013 indicate this will be an even better year. We are on pace to break every record this year for all of the important outputs we measure. We have the tools to win …
- Products: books, policy studies, five national monthly outreach publications, and state-of-the-art Web sites and social media;
- Brand: nearly eight of ten state elected officials read one or more of our publications and half say one of our publications influenced their opinion or led to a change in public policy.
- People: 265 policy advisors, 160 elected officials serving as advisors, 35 battle-hardened staff, a 12-member board of directors, and more than 8,000 donors who will stick with us no matter what the liberal media say.
We do what no other organization in the country does, or can do …
- We target the 100,000 most influential people in the debate over an important issue: elected officials, judges, teachers, business leaders, journalists, university trustees, and public intellectuals;
- We effectively market our ideas using a proven 12-step marketing system that utilizes techniques such as positioning, repetition, measurement, and feedback loops;
- We are vertically integrated, combining top-quality original research with serious public relations and government relations chops;
- We work well with others, featuring the work of other think tanks in our publications, on our Web sites, and at our events;
- We treat the nation’s 7,300 state elected officials as customers, doing whatever it takes to meet their policy and information needs; and
- We hold ourselves accountable to our donors by documenting everything we do and keeping every promise we make.
We’ve already changed the world. We’ve done more to turn the global debate on climate change than all other free-market groups combined. Now we want to apply our successful communications model to other issues, such as health care, taxes, education, and financial reform. We want to show the world how an independent nonprofit free-market group can go beyond just talking about ideas and really win in those arenas, too.
We are leading the fight for school choice such as vouchers and the “parent trigger” and against the dumbed-down and politicized Common Core education standards. We are persuading states to block the implementation of Obamacare until Congress can repeal and replace it. We are campaigning to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency, stop a national carbon tax, and stop state taxes on online commerce.
Our 5-5-5 Plan
We can do more … much more. During the next five years, I want to …
- Add five people to the government relations staff, increasing the government relations department from five full-time-equivalent positions to at least 10. State legislators love what we do, and it has a big impact on the laws they pass. We can double our impact by doubling staffing in this key area.
- Add five people to the development staff. We are badly short-handed in the fundraising department. Now that we have more than 8,000 current donors, we need more staff to reach out to them, thank them, and ask them to give again.
- Add $5 million to our fund balance by raising about $1 million a year more than we spend each year for five years. In five years our annual budget will be about $10 million. We should have six months’ spending in the bank. We’ve never had that kind of financial cushion before … and the gray hair on my head is proof that it’s stressful to operate without a net!
This is our “5-5-5 Plan.” To make it work, I need your financial support as well as your advice, your encouragement, and your contacts.
I need your help. If you haven’t renewed your support yet this year, please do it now. If you already have, please give again … and add a zero to the amount of your most recent gift. We’re doing fantastic work. We’re ready to break through to a new level of effectiveness. But we need your help.
I hope you agree we’ve earned it.
Joseph L. Bast (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of The Heartland Institute.