Part I of the series, Everyday Advocacy
If you’re working on a cause you are passionate about, YOU are an advocate! Advocacy – effectively communicating about your passion and what is needed to support it – is just as important as implementing the technical work to bring desired change to schools and communities.
In mission-driven work, we can almost always find inspiring stories and images that are worthy of sharing. However, too many of us keep these stories to ourselves.
You can include advocacy as part of your work to really advance your goals. That takes planning. Here are three strategies to help you schedule advocacy into your routine:
1. Share stories about your efforts. Stories of successes – and challenges – personalize your work for others. Yet, too often we are too busy doing the work to actually share about it. This is a disservice to the cause. Social media posts, blog posts, video posts, email updates, and more allow you to get the word out that you are making change happen. This inspires others to be interested.
Try this: Make a plan for how you can share information regularly – like commit to develop and share one piece of media a month. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just informative and regular. Bonus points for consistently using the same communications platform.
2. Update your elected officials. Elected officials are eager to hear about what their constituents want – and also about successes in their district. There are usually opportunities for public comments at regular meetings held by a city or town council, or county board. Look for local opportunities to address policy makers. This is also great public speaking practice. Written updates are another option. Regularly communicating with elected officials helps you cultivate a relationship with them, and they can begin to see you as a resource.
Try this: Research upcoming public meetings and schedule one onto your calendar within the next month, either to attend or to speak at.
3. Know when funding and policy decisions are being made that impact your community. Local budgets of towns, cities, or counties are most readily available for advocates seeking to impact schools and communities. The budget process follows a timeline with critical points when advocacy can make a difference. You may be allowed to submit written or spoken comments – sometimes more than once during the budget development process. If you miss those windows, your well-meaning efforts won’t help much.
Try this: Understand the annual funding cycle for your school or community services, and when the ideal times are for public input. View the budget development timeline and note key dates. Consider attending budgeting meetings to educate your advocacy work.
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato