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Public Policy Advocacy for Social Change

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

What is Advocacy?
Speaking, writing, or acting in support of a cause Using a variety of organized tactics to achieve a public policy goal Demanding a change to benefit the lives of many

Advocacy:
Asks something of others Puts the demands of people into systems Deals with issues and conflicts Involves people Creates a space for public discussion Finds solutions to problems

Focus for Advocacy


The Legislature The Executive Regulatory Agencies The Judiciary

Social Justice Advocacy


Challenging power Assuming risks Telling stories Involving those affected Offering alternatives Principles vs. compromise Balancing the scales of justice and equity Holding ourselves accountable

Vision, Mission, and Goals


Vision - Your picture of the ideal situation Mission What your organization will do to get there Goals Significant steps toward the vision Objectives The means to accomplish the goals Action Steps Concrete steps to achieve the objectives

How Change Happens


Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will. -Frederick Douglas

Stages of Change
Denial of the need for change Resistance to change Exploration of the change Managing the change Collaboration Compromise Maintaining momentum

Change Agents
Understand context, barriers to change, and stages of change Listen Respond Advocate Pursue change Intervene at the systems level Team with others Facilitate

Strategic Planning Process


Set ground rules Ask all questions Share experiences and opinions Leave space for others Be informal and relax All opinions count Keep it simple Brainstorm Small group Accept all ideas without debate Facilitate if necessary

Strategic Planning Questions


What do you want?
Process goals Content goals

Who can deliver it?


Formal authority Influence

What message(s) do they need to hear?


Public interest Self-interest

Strategic Planning Questions


Who do they need to hear it from?
Expert voices Authentic voices

How do we get them to hear it?


Persuasion Pressure

Strategic Planning Questions


What do we have to build on?
Leadership Supporters Information Resources Tools Access Messages

What do we need to develop?

Strategic Planning Questions


How do we begin?
Big enough to matter Small enough to win

How do we know its working?


Implemented plan? Increased engagement? Improvements?

Where do we go from here?

Information and Research


Knowledge will forever govern ignorance Know the most about your issue Find as many sources of information as possible Research arguments for and against Know who supports and who opposes Conduct surveys and opinion polls Use a survey to inform and educate

Why do people get involved?


They believe the issue is important to them and their family They believe they have something to contribute They believe that they will be listened to and their contributions respected They believe that their participation will make a difference

How do people stay involved?


Multiple opportunities for participation, from a small contribution of time to progressively larger contributions of time and effort The level of participation varies depending on life circumstances.

Staying Involved
Constituent receive sufficient advance notice. Constituent participation is facilitated:
Child care Transportation Dinner Education & information

Staying Involved
Constituents are listened to; their ideas are supported and respected. Constituents do not experience retribution as a result of their participation.

Staying Involved
Their participation has an impact it makes an appreciable difference. Their participation is appreciated; that appreciation is acknowledged.

Opportunities to Participate in Advocacy


Tell their stories verbally to an advocate & give permission to share Tell their stories verbally within a small group (focus group) Tell their stories verbally to policymakers (at public hearing, meeting with monitors, at their school or district forum, etc.)

Participation Opportunities
Share their stories in writing through:
Letter to the state Letter to the editor Letter to the monitors Letter to an advocate with permission to disclose

Participation Opportunities
Reach out to encourage other constituent participation Assist in collection of documentation Assist in analysis of information Assist in information dissemination

Participation Opportunities
Serve as co-trainers Serve as members of task forces and committees Facilitate public forums Serve as members of monitoring teams

Preparation for Participation


Offer trainings, developed jointly with constituents & advocates Develop & disseminate informative, useful materials Meet and talk with constituents, sharing information, listening carefully to their strengths, needs & concerns

Demonstrate constituent independence & contribution.


Develop a plan to identify a diverse, representative group of constituents During & after meetings, specifically recognize the value of the constituents participation Recognize individual constituent strengths while respecting differing methods of coping & adjustment

Provide constituent-identified supports to assist participation.


Provide convenient meeting times & locations. Compensate constituents for time, expertise & expenses. Clearly identify someone to be the primary contact for reimbursement & other issues; timely reimbursement & contacts are essential

Provide constituent-identified supports


Provide direct staff support, stipends, travel expenses, & childcare Identify these supports in RFPs, grants, & policies Provide complete, appropriate information prior to meetings in a timely manner Match veteran members with inexperienced ones to support new members & share ideas

Provide constituent-identified supports


Recognize that some constituents may require more and different kinds of support than others Encourage and facilitate constituentto-constituent support and networking

Provide formal orientation & information


Provide orientations about the issues, participants & process. Provide informational support for constituents to participate as equal partners on a level playing field Provide technical assistance, leadership mentoring, training, & other leadership training

Ensure diversity among constituents


Honor the racial, ethnic, cultural, & socioeconomic diversity of families. Provide all materials in the constituents preferred language. Recruit broadly from the community and the target population. Bring in new constituents.

Ensure diversity
Adapt collaborative models to diverse cultures. Manage changing distribution of power & responsibility. Incorporate principles of collaboration into professional education.

Ensure diversity
Ensure broad representation among groups based on the communities in question. Be particularly careful to include members of traditionally underserved groups. Avoid any appearance of tokenism.

Be ready to hear what constituents say.


Encourage and support constituents to find their voice. Ensure that member perspectives are not considered a separate component of the policymaking process, but are infused throughout. Always consider an individual constituents story as valid.

Respect the passion constituents have for change.


Support staff in developing an understanding of the value of constituent participation. Provide clear information about your goals and how constituent input and participation fits in. Balance membership between constituents and advocates. Consider shared leadership co-chairs

Remember:
Empowering families to participate in advocacy for their children, their community, the larger society, is its own victory, regardless of the specific outcome of any particular effort. Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Outreach Strategies
Door-knocking Welfare office, food pantry, school Organizational media Community media Mass media Mediating institutions Public forums

Mobilization
Moving from spectators to participants Turning opinions into actions
Making a phone call Sending a fax or e-mail Writing a letter Visiting a policymaker Demonstration, march, sit-in

Mobilization Steps
Present information:
Your cause The activity or event Why its important

Outreach to constituents & allies


Phone, fax, e-mail, mail One-on-one Other organizations

Orientation Needed supports for participation

Action Alert Network


Develop & maintain Action Alert list Monitor key policy developments Summarize key points, pros and cons, actions Mail, e-mail, fax, call to alert network Maintain copies of action responses

Organizing vs. Mobilizing


Mobilizing
Shorter-term For particular action Less time commitment

Organizing
Longer-term, for the long haul More involved in decision-making Greater time commitment

Leadership
Inspire and help people work toward a goal Can be shared Differing roles:
Visionaries Strategists Historians Resource mobilizers Statespersons Communicators Outside sparkplugs Inside negotiators Generalists

Key Leadership Qualities


Effective communicators Good listeners Develop team spirit & cohesiveness Understanding & aware Recognize accomplishments Constructive criticism Encourage & motivate Facilitate resolution of disputes Delegate & build others Accept responsibility, take initiative Offer help, information Ask for help Make things happen, but dont have to be the center of attention

Leaders Problem-Solve
State problem simply & clearly Gather & organize relevant info & resources List potential solutions Evaluate each one Select the best one Design a plan to use Evaluate outcomes & readjust when needed

Leaders Know Themselves


Who am I? What am I doing here What are my:
Goals, purposes Expectations Motivations?

What strengths & challenges do I bring? How can I best use my leadership skills? How can I make space for others?

Leadership Development
Individual advocacy Peer advocacy Public policy advocacy

Advocacy Leadership Knowledge


Laws & regulations How institutions work Key decision-makers Formal & informal decision-making Facts; current status Barriers & solutions Qualities of effective systems Existing resources

Advocacy Leadership Skills


Empathy Listening Written & oral communication Critical reading & thinking Collaboration Consensus-building Problem-solving Conflict resolution Strategic planning Growing leadership

How Policies are Made


Legislature/laws:
Introduced Referred to committee Considered by committee Hearing/public comment Reported out with amendments/changes Passed by one house Referred to next house Passed by 2nd house Goes to Governor

How Policies Are Made


Executive/Governor:
Signs into law as is Conditionally veto (return for specific changes) Veto (overridden by supermajority of both houses) Pocket veto within last 45 days of session

How Policies Are Made


Regulations:
Draft regulations based on law Publish in Federal or State Register Public comment/public hearing Respond to comments Make revisions Publish in Register Go into effect Implemented by agency

Reaching Policymakers
Call * Write * Visit
Brief and to the point Stick to one subject Identify yourself How will you and others be affected? Be clear about what you want Be accurate & specific Be polite & positive Offer your help Follow up!

Reaching the Grassroots


Call * Write * Visit
Letter sent to a legislator can be a letter to the editor Message on a legislators message machine can be called in to radio talk show Testimony at hearing can be presented at church, PTA, community group meeting

Phone Calls, E-Mail, Faxes


Ask to speak to the legislator or aide Note your legislative district Give bill # & name Explain why the issue is important to you Jot down speaking points in advance Write notes on your conversation Follow up!

Letters and Postcards


Handwritten neatly or typed Use own words Personalize Be brief Stick to key point(s) Avoid form letters Develop sample letters with messages Identify yourself Use bill # & title Be timely Follow up!

Effective Advocacy Writing


Be clear about what you want to say and how it will be heard Be careful about your tone Understand that communication is filtered and may be blocked Communication is never value-free

Purpose of Advocacy Writing


Share facts Guide reader to a clear understanding of issue Persuade/convince reader to think the way you do Persuade/convince reader to act the way you want them to

Types of Advocacy Writing


Op-Ed piece Letter to editor Press advisory/release Letter to policymaker Letter of complaint Public testimony Investigative report Letters to inform & mobilize others Activity notices

Questions of Advocacy Writing


Who is the audience? What is the issue & message? When can you convey the message? Where can you convey the message? Why are you writing? How can you most effectively convey your message?

Advocacy Writing Tricks


Challenge with a thought-provoking question Open with quotation Offer a sip of your conclusion List all main points Dramatic or eyeopening statement Use an angle your readers havent seen

Advocacy Writing Tips


Keep it short & simple Watch punctuation, spelling & organization Know intended recipients Have a clear goal Understand the context Catch them in the beginning Summarize/introduce, explain, summarize/conclude Communication is a process Have someone review your work

Testifying In advance
Monitor Federal and State Register Mobilize authentic & expert voices Mobilize diverse constituencies Call to request time Find out how much time and how many copies to bring

Writing Testimony
Be brief & concise Written is longer than oral Have a purpose Identify yourself State position, reasoning, and request Personalize Use your own words Be substantive & give examples Single space for them, double space for you Make extra copies Practice presentation & rehearse questions!

Presenting Testimony
Dress properly Arrive early Be prepared to shorten testimony Relax Speak slowly & clearly Avoid monotone Look up, make eye contact No disparaging remarks Thank them for the opportunity

Speaking in Public
Prepare content and delivery Know your audience and tailor to them Emphasize key points Establish eye contact Use visual aids Be brief Leave your opponent with dignity intact

Meeting with Elected Officials


Speak up Be part of a group Go with someone who has experience Dont be afraid Dont lie if you dont know Practice helps; role play beforehand! Be yourself

Preparing for Legislative Visits


Decide who you will visit. Establish agenda & goals. Plan your visit. Determine group composition. Listen well.

Preparing for Legislative Visits


Be prepared, but dont feel everyone has to be an expert. Dont get intimidated or frustrated. Be on time, and dont stay too long. Build a relationship. Follow up!

IRS Rules for Non-Profits


No supporting or opposing candidates
Can do candidate surveys & disseminate results

Limits on lobbying
No appreciable amount IRS election: 20% Funder restrictions

Lobbying involves specific legislation Regulatory advocacy is not lobbying

Regulatory Advocacy
Determine agency with jurisdiction Identify responsible party within agency Develop relationships Know relevant law governing regulations (Administrative Procedures Act) Monitor media, State & Federal Registers

Regulatory Advocacy
Develop a plan
Comments on draft Responsibilities Potential opposition Compromises

Develop coalitions Get broad endorsement Use legislative oversight Mobilize grassroots

Grassroots & Media Advocacy


Communicate
Own constituency Own supporters Potential Allies General public

Use media
Your media Grassroots media Community papers, radio, & public access TV Mass media

Coalition Advocacy
Builds support Combines power & resources Reduces competition for funding & support More efficient Provides support & expertise to smaller groups Strength in numbers Strength in diversity Broadened skills & expertise

Coalition Advocacy
Need clarity of goals and how they fit with each organization Clear decision-making processes Strong communications plans Ensure all contribute, have a say, and get credit Conflict resolution mechanisms

Questions for Coalitions


Temporary or permanent? Agreed on issues? Differences among groups? Gifts of each? Stuff to give up? Stuff to gain? Anticipated conflicts & compromises? Strategies to address?

Leadership/ Maintaining a Strong Organization


Intense dedication to improving outcomes for substantial numbers High commitment to maintenance activities:
Define responsibilities Good communication Clear decision-making Sufficient funding

Effective Strategies Shape Action


Ongoing:
Planning Implementation Evaluation Revision of plan

Persistent focus on key systems & central issues Understand specific changes needed Bring about changes Monitor implementation to make sure improvements take place

Information
Document problems and solutions Develop accurate map of systems how they work, whos important, relationships
Formal Informal

Know how other groups have solved problems

Building Support
Use media to communicate views and mobilize others Develop support networks Build well-organized, committed constituency capable of mobilizing substantial political power

Intervention
Multiple levels Multiple tactics
Negotiations Demonstrations Filing complaints Testifying Writing, calling, visiting

Continue direct pressure Persistence!