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4 Pros and 3 Cons to Putting a Politician on Your Board

 

It doesn’t take much for the blogosphere or Twitterverse to explode with all the fervor we’re so used to seeing from Big Abortion and its supporters.

As we saw in headlines and tweets last week, all it takes is a comment—in this case, a question—that has the potential of being taken out of context for opponents of life to use it to lampoon a politician or public figure.

It’s no difficult task to show that attacks like these often bypass truth, context and ethics to go straight for the jugular, slinging mud for mud-slinging’s sake. It’s part of the deal politicians, unfortunately, sign onto when they run for office. It’s all part of the political theater.

But, what if—as is the case with last week’s news—this same politician happens to be on the board of a local pregnancy help center? Oops. 

Yes, there are pros and cons to having elected officials as board members, whether they are invited to join because they are an elected official or get voted into office while serving as a member of the board. 

Tweet This: Here are 4 pros and 3 cons to Elected Officials Serving as a Board Member.

Here are 4 Pros and 3 Cons to Elected Officials Serving as Board Members:

Pros

  1. Any supporter of a local pregnancy help organization is equipped as an ambassador of the cause and the organization. Being familiar with the mission and its efforts—even if just through a client story in a newsletter—helps an elected official to be an ambassador, even an evangelist, for the great work done in centers, mobile units, hotlines and maternity homes. It is an excellent benefit to our work for a public official to carry such awareness into their public service.

  2. Board members are particularly knowledgeable about the life-affirming vision. This includes various aspects of how that vision translates into missional efforts of intervention, prevention, reconciliation and extended care. Such a knowledge resource can be helpful not just to promote awareness but help correct misperceptions from others in the public arena.

  3. Elected officials can be on guard against anti-life political maneuvering (intended or incidental) that would negatively affect pregnancy help efforts. Since it is difficult to keep up with the inner workings of government and political posturing, having someone on the “inside” to warn life-minded friends in a timely manner can help thwart such activities.

  4. Occasionally there are meaningful opportunities for public officials to influence funding that may benefit the work of the pregnancy help organization. Block grants and special funding, like Choose Life license plates monies, are examples of such opportunities. 

Cons

  1. The IRS puts restrictions on non-profits support of elected officials, particularly as they are campaigning for office. A helpful guideline for this is found here. Board members, even those who are elected public officials, can speak and be introduced as Board members. They can even speak at banquets and such, as long as certain requirements are met. However, this does limit the ways an organization can highlight its connection or the politician. 

  2. As with any Board Members, an elected official must be cautious for any apparent conflict of interest. In addition, their Duty of Loyalty requires they act in the best interest of the organization. When this comes in conflict with their public work, they should recuse themselves from those board discussions.

  3. And, of course, the PHO may be subject to any (real or imagined) public relations gaff made by the elected official. Smear is a common political tactic, so any faux pas made by any pro-life public official can be used to smear the center. This is even more likely if that person is a board member.

The good news? Negative statements can be turned to positive ones. 

The old saying, “No press is bad press” comes into play here. Think about the free marketing and vision-casting opportunities even pro-abortion writers are giving you even when they’re trying to tear you down. 

Tweet This: The old saying, "No press is bad press" comes into play here.

What if, instead of backing down or offering a “no comment,” you got ahead of the story by putting out a statement to your local—or national—media with a brief statement, turning the conversation back to the actual services and actual good your organization is doing. 

You have a gift-wrapped contrast between a catty PR smear campaign and the life-saving services your organization is doing every day. This situation leads perfectly into a statement like, “The congressman’s statements are nearly as important as making sure no woman feels so alone that they feel forced or coerced into an abortion.” 

Next time you’ve got a sticky situation on your hands, refuse to be put on the defensive. Your center, maternity home, non-profit adoption agency, or medical clinic provides true compassion, support and real choice for the mother, her family, and the community.

So, count the cost, but always be ready to cast a vision for your life-saving work.

Jor-El Godsey

Jor-El Godsey serves as President of Heartbeat International. He leads a staff dedicated to equipping, empowering, and encouraging the thousands of leaders and developing leaders of Heartbeat’s affiliated pregnancy help centers, maternity homes, and adoption services, in the U.S. and on every inhabited continent.