NRECA is launching a new grassroots advocacy program designed to modernize and improve efforts to influence Congress and the White House on issues that affect electric cooperatives and rural communities throughout the nation.

The association will reach out directly to co-op consumer-members through social media channels and invite them to the new Voices for Cooperative Power website, where they will be able to sign up to join the advocacy effort.

Participants can customize their experience by choosing the issues most important to them, including broadband, energy efficiency, renewable energy and rural development. Specific issues will be found under the four broad headings of Reliable, Affordable, Responsible Power; Supporting Co-op Communities; Building for the Future; and Environmental Stewardship.

Consumer-members will receive updates on those issues and information on how to contact Congress and federal agencies on proposed legislation or regulations.

The new VCP website will replace It will be “far more user friendly and inviting," said Louis Finkel, NRECA's senior vice president of government relations.

“We're connecting cooperative communities through the use of social media to have a thoughtful and sustained dialogue about issues of importance to them and to the future of their cooperatives," Finkel said.

Reaching consumer-members through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has proven effective for grassroots organizing—more so than the dated approach of sending emails to thousands of people and expecting them to respond, he said.

“In our digital age, we need to engage with our consumer-members and our policymakers where they are, and where they are is in the social media world, on digital platforms," Finkel said.

NRECA's goal is to create a greatly expanded network of co-op advocates by energizing members around the issues that mean the most to them.

“The most important voices to members of Congress are their constituents, and we want to make sure that consumer-members that care most about their communities and their co-ops are carrying their message to Congress," Finkel said.

The new website also creates a way for NRECA to interact with consumer-members beyond just asking for their help to pass legislation, said Stephen Bell, NRECA's senior director of media and public relations.

“The idea is to cultivate deeper, more sustained relationships with advocates. We don't want to go to them only when we want something," Bell said. “We want to have an ongoing conversation with consumer-members to educate them on issues and get to know them better."