For the month of August, OFN is highlighting Members who have a scheduled advocacy activity with a member of Congress. This week’s spotlight features a site visit to a local restaurant coordinated by Craft3 with Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1). If you have an upcoming congressional site visit or another advocacy related event planned for the month of August, please email me so we can feature you. If you have not already, check out OFN’s Congressional Site Visit Toolkit, and request your site visit today!
Name: Carl Seip
City, State of Site Visit: Astoria, Oregon
Borrower Visited: Bridgewater Bistro
Which member(s) of Congress and staff attended? Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and three of her staff.
What does it take to have a successful site visit? Anyone can arrange a successful site visit, they’re a lot less work than you may think. And they’re well-worth the effort because they allow your borrowers to tell both their, and your, story in a memorable way to an elected official. To that end, perhaps the most important thing to make any site visit a success is having a borrower willing to honestly and genuinely share the impact of your CDFI’s investment in their life.
What was the highlight of the site visit? For me, the highlight was not in telling Craft3’s story, it was hearing our borrowers tell their stories, and talk about how meaningful our investment and/or partnership has been to them over the years.
Did you or your borrower provide any impact data (jobs created, how the project was financed, etc.) during the site visit? Since our founding, Craft3 has invested over $44 million in the Oregon first congressional district, creating/retaining more than 1,600 jobs.
What is one piece of advice you have for a CDFI trying to schedule an upcoming site visit? Members and staff notice and appreciate organization and well-thought-out logistics. What does that really mean?
- Be proactive in providing event suggestions with multiple options to schedulers or state staff.
- Once you settle on a date and rough structure, over-communicate as details are coming together.
- Vet potential event invitees with staff before you make them.
- Put together a realistic and detailed agenda.
- Ensure all participants have information in advance.
- Get approval from staff and other event participants to invite press.
- Show up early with nametags and any other setup that will be required.
- Guide the conversation or event as it is underway, and end on time!