Democracy Data & Communications, now DDC Advocacy, is a consulting and technology firm that provides public affairs consulting and software for organizations wanting to build grassroots support around their particular cause or issue. Founded in 1996 by B.R. McConnon III, who had previously worked as a policy analyst for Citizens for a Sound Economy and for several database and political technology firms, the company advertises itself as a full-service issues advocacy and campaigns solution for PACs and organizations.
The firm was among the first to try to use technology for grassroots advocacy, says Jim Gianiny, DDC's president. The firm built up a consulting and grassroots advocacy practice around its technology, Gianiny says, to become "the full-service issue advocacy firm that we are today."
According to Think Progress, Democracy Data's recent public affairs campaigns include online work for AHIP, part of the health insurance lobby.
"It doesn't work anymore to simply flood a legislator's office [with e-mails representing] your side of a particular issue," Gianiny says. "It can be just as important to have an op-ed placed in a particular newspaper that a particular congressman will pick up and read."
Maybe it's a matter of getting people to a town hall meeting or mobilizing a company's employees through an e-mail blast and take-action tools on a website, Gianiny says. DDC's approach is to use all of these things simultaneously.
DDC develops its own technology and consults with PACs on how best to use it. The company handles creative, web design and messaging in-house, too, says Gianiny, who adds that the company serves trade associations, membership organizations and corporations. He wouldn't come out and say it, but news reports about DDC — and Federal Election Commission data — indicate that the company's clients skew towards Fortune 500 corporations and large associations. He did say, however, that some clients who use DDC's software for compliance reporting also have DDC file the compliance reports themselves.
According to DDC's website, the company's Democracy Direct software is a modular governmental relations and messaging platform. A constituent relationship management database allows clients to log data about the constituents, government contacts, employees and so on that they are tracking, as well as record interactions with each of these stakeholders. The CRM is integrated with an e-mail blast system, which is supposed to offer a seamless transition between building a list segment and sending an e-mail to the people on that list.
Reporting and analytics tools can generate maps as well as more run-of-the-mill charts and graphs.
A separate set of software for PACs can track interactions with legislators and pull up data on each legislator's voting history, as well as who a client has in that legislator's district, according to DDC's website. The software is also helpful in generating compliance reports, according to the website, perhaps because it's designed to help clients track and plan lobbying efforts over time. The PAC software can also generate reports accessible via the mobile web. Gianiny says it can do anything from fundraising to compliance; making contributions to legislators.
According to DDC's website, the company also offers online fundraising software, and can send out fundraising asks in HTML e-mails.
An online advocacy component supports managing content on a website with various content types, e-mailed action alerts, and detailed site and e-mail analytics. It also supports a click-to-call tool using interactive voice, so that activists visiting your site online can get a call back from the system and be connected to their elected officials. (DDC sells the IVR system separately.) All the "take action" tools — calls, sending a letter to their legislators, and so on — are tracked through the software in a manner that the client can track.
A Facebook application allows the client to mobilize supporters on the social network: Through the client's Facebook page, supporters can send letters or get a prompt to call their elected official, invite their Facebook friends to visit the page, and publish their activity on their news feed. All of a supporter's activity on the page is tracked, says Gianiny, so the client can analyze what's working and what isn't.
- In 2009, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies reported paying $47,763 to DDC for software expenses, according to our analysis of FEC data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
- The American Resort Development Association paid DDC $60,000 in 2008 for database maintenance, fees, and compliance reporting, according to the same data.
Jon Gorman, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies' communications director, said DDC Advocacy's tools are employed in the trade association's Washington, D.C. office, which handles federal and political affairs.
The Chrysler Group reported paying at least $112,134 in database and PAC compliance fees to DDC in 2009, according to FEC data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (that likely includes non-software fees); the American Resort Development Association reported $28,001 in monthly database maintenance fees.
Ernst & Young; Holland & Knight; Koch Industries; and the Chrysler Group, according to FEC data.