Advocacy is a time-honored way to make your voice heard by those who make decisions that affect your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
Advocacy and lobbying are often confused. One is warm and fuzzy–and your right as a citizen. The other is surrounded by legal issues.
Anyone can be an advocate. The U. S. Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition our government for redress of grievances.
A decision maker is someone who makes a decision. That could be a legislator or a board member or an employee of a public or private agency or a newspaper editor or others. The first step in successful advocacy is finding out who makes the decisions at the federal, state and local levels.
Advocacy in Person
Making direct contact with a decision maker is the most important strategy for advocacy. Direct contact does not have to be made in person, but in-person contact is the most effective form of advocacy and includes:
- Making an office visit
- Making a district visit
- Testifying at a public hearing
Advocacy from a Distance
Sometimes it is not possible to see a decision maker in order to make direct contact. Fortunately, electricity and the U. S. Postal Service can do the job for us when decision makers are too far away to see or there is not enough time to visit them.
- Writing a letter
- Making a phone call
- Sending email
Making Advocacy Personal
When you are personally involved in an issue, it is pretty easy to tell what is going to work and what will not. Sometimes you have a better idea about the impact a particular policy will have than the policy makers do. That is why it is important to make sure that decision makers get the opportunity to learn about how policies, both old and new, affect individuals and their communities.
- Telling your personal story
- Telling your community’s story
- Telling Women’s Recovery Center’s story
Advocacy in a Group
Advocates never have to be lonely. There are always others around who care about your issue as much as you do. The trick is to find them and then work with them.