70 Experts Share Their Best Advocacy Planning, Strategy, Skills and Training Tips

Learn from seventy great minds including our CEO Pamela Hawley about advocacy advice! Click here to read the original article on Connectivity.

By Ann Dermody

How would you like to have your own personal government relations or advocacy mentor on speed dial?

Even, if you’d been in the business for years?

Well, we’re about to give you the next best thing.

We conducted 70, (yes, 70!) interviews with some of the leading minds in the worlds of government relations, nonprofit, advocacy, public policy, and fundraising, and asked them four pertinent questions:

  • What advocacy skill have I learned over time, or do I wish I had my first day on the job?
  • Having tried a bunch, the best advocacy strategy I rely on is …?
  • When I’m planning an advocacy campaign, the first thing I always do is … 
  •  What would be the most useful advocacy training?

Just FYI, we asked them a bunch of other questions too, and we’ll give you the full picture of what they had to say soon (including epic campaign fails and successes) – but more of that good stuff later.

For now, here’s a taster of some of the best advocacy strategies, tips and tricks they’ve learned from many collective years toiling in the world of legislation and advocacy.

And when you’ve finished reading, don’t forget to download our great free eBook: The Advocacy Planning, Strategy and Skills Guide.

Finally, to everyone who took part, a big thank you!

And to everyone reading, this is one you’ll want to bookmark!

 

What’s the greatest advocacy skill I’ve learned over time, or what advocacy skill do I wish I had had the first day on the job?

A better understanding of how advocates use social media. In my job, I’m constantly checking Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds for the latest news and updates on client campaigns, but most advocates don’t have the time to stay this connected. Many advocates favor one channel over the other, and are often not checking their social media feed until later in the evening or on the weekends. So, learning how to communicate more effectively to my audience has been critical to ensuring a successful campaign. – Carolyn Weems, VP, The Herald Group

“Knowing when to be persistent and realizing that if your efforts for change do not succeed this year, there is always next year.” – Frank Harris, Director of State Government Affairs, MADD

I didn’t have an appreciation for the value of relationships. When you work on issues, you think ‘policy’ — which is important — but I didn’t realize or appreciate how important it is to not only have the right message, but to have the right messenger. You can be more acutely effective with the right messenger. – Chip Felkel, CEO of Rap Index

teammm

Enthusiasm. If you are passionate about what you do, they will listen. People want to be around people who love what they do. Most people these days want to find a driving purpose for their life. So even if your topic isn’t their immediate interest, your enthusiasm might just persuade them to get involved! – Pamela Hawley, CEO, Universal Giving

I wish I could have had the public speaking presence I have had to develop over many years in my advocacy work. – Meredith Nethercutt, Senior Associate Member Advocacy, SHRM

Networking: specifically, knowing how to strike up a conversation with a stranger or butt into the middle of a conversation between three or four people. – David L. Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs, Public Citizen and Founder of First Person Politics

… social media experience. Members of Congress love to use social media and it can be an incredibly powerful and engaging tool. We now recommend social media strategies to all of our clients as part of their overall advocacy initiative.” – Lincoln Clapper, Director Sales & Marketing, Prime Advocacy

“Live social video streaming didn’t exist when I started at Greenpeace, but I wish it did!” – Ryan Schleeter, Online Editor, Greenpeace USA blog

Database and email management skills. Communication to our supporters is key. Once we’ve captured their emails then it’s up to us to engage, educate and inspire. It cannot replace face-to-face interactions but it allows us to control the message, and hopefully turn the mildly interested supporter into a fully engaged advocate. – Jason Amaro, Southwest Chapter Coordinator, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers 

I wish I had a better handle on logistics when I first started. Time management when juggling multiple campaigns and issues can be tough. – Mark J. Walsh, Campaign Director, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

There are a few great advocacy skills I’ve learned from my mentors over the years that I now carry with me every day.

  • Develop a solid team.
  • Be persistent, but patient
  • Issue campaigns are like marathons not sprints
  • Define the win up front. – Christine Hill, Deputy Legislative Director, Sierra Club

Listening. When you get your hands on an issue you believe in, it’s easy forget the other voices in the room. The false consensus effect can derail even the strongest campaign. People assume that one point of view is the same as everyone else’s, and too often, people build their campaign from that false consensus. I found that it is best to anchor your advocacy campaign in facts. – Gerry Gunster, CEO, Goddard Gunster

Read the full article here!

“Sail Away from the Safe Harbor”

Here is one of our CEO Pamela Hawley’s favorite quotes from her blog Living and Giving.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didnt do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Its okay to feel safe. In some ways, we need to feel safe as a launching pad, knowing that someone believes in us.  And from that harbor, we can and should launch into spectacular venues where we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. You will grow and be inspired in ways you could never imagine.  You inspire.

For those of you who dream and discover starting from shaky ground, you have a courage that will carry you through to new heights and insights.  You inspire!

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835.  In his writing, he presented an honest, yet satirical portrayal of antebellum south.  His criticisms of the south, such as in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, cried out against racist attitudes.  He led an exciting life as a ferry boat driver and a prospector during the Gold Rush; his experiences enhanced his understanding of the American culture which he wrote about.

Consider leaving your comfort zone by volunteering abroad. Search for an opportunity here.

My Volunteer Experience in Tanzania

By Nicola Da Silva 

The phone buzzed and it was my mom. “Guess what? Nic, Andrew, and Lex booked a trip to Zanzibar, Tanzania and invited me to join. We wish you and Daniel could join to – any chance of that??” Sometimes you get invitations to events and you weakly offer to try your best to make it happen and other times you get an invitation to something and you know that no matter what you will be going! This was one of those. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about going on this trip, but as soon as I knew about it, I couldn’t think about anything else. I started making plans the very next day and everything fell into place perfectly in the 3 weeks I had to pull it off.

I also decided to contact UniversalGiving and see if they could set me up to do some volunteer work while on vacation. Amazingly they helped me find Embrace Tanzania. I emailed them and they got me in touch with Selestin, who is based in Zanzibar and manages the volunteer effort there. 2 days before I left on the trip I emailed Selestin and told him I was coming and would love to have a look at what they  were doing in Zanzibar and see if I could help and also get them connected with Universal Giving. Selestin replied straight away and gave me the address and his telephone number. By the time I checked into the hotel, he had already spoken to them to help organize a day I could come see the different volunteer sites.

On Monday April 28th, my mom and I stepped out of our hotel and into a cab and went to Bububu, Zanzibar. Selestin met us there and showed us around the building where volunteers stay and then Selestin, his colleague Edward, my mom, the cab driver, and I went for lunch. We chatted about the different volunteering options and how my mom and I could get involved. Next stop was the orphanage where Mama Suz looks after about 30 children. The house is a school in the morning; then some of the children go home and others stay at the orphanage. Some children are orphans and others have parents in the sober houses nearby.

I could see that Mama Suz tries her best to look after all these children, but I also noticed that she was conscious of the state of the building and the lack of beds for all the children. We met the kids and then had a “business meeting” in the shade of the tree. I explained what UniversalGiving does and that I would get her connected with them and then asked what her ideas were. Wow – she has such amazing plans and knows what’s important. She said, “these children are orphans and the best thing for them is to have a stable home.” She wants to buy a house so that the children feel secure; buy a bus and have other children in other villages attend her school and pay school fees; and have the school fees as an income so she can afford to look after the children in the orphanage. I loved the idea and we started chatting about what she needed for that to happen. We figured out that the best thing would be for her raise money to buy a piece of land and have a volunteer project set up to build a house for her and the children.

The next step would be to raise money for the bus and get the new children from other villages enrolled in her school. She may need to get more volunteer teachers or hire some more teachers. I offered to do all I could to help her with this dream… and to be honest ever since I got back a month ago, all I can think about is how to help Mama Suz and the children have a home.


Inspired by this amazing story? Click here to change a child’s life by volunteering in Tanzania!

NGO Spotlight: Amizade

The Education Director, Bibi Al-Ebrahim, highlights how Amizade helps spread the love.

Amizade empowers individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning. We work towards creating an equitable world where all people can connect freely and forge lasting friendships. We do this through programs which link people across communities that do not often get the opportunity to engage with one another. Participants are exposed to experiences that allow them to explore and understand their values and culture as well as those of others’. These types of experiences allow young people to be more informed and compassionate global citizens. In linking unlikely communities through service learning, Amizade focuses on exploring ways to offer the opportunity of service learning to all young people, despite economic status. Our most recent effort in diminishing barriers of access and diversifying networks is a cross cultural pilot program that will connect communities that may not often have the opportunity to engage and interact in Western Pennsylvania. After being awarded a $5,000 grant from the Sprout Fund, we will implement a program that will bring rural and urban youth from the region together to explore each other’s culture and community.

Through the power of service learning we believe that a successful pilot will act as a model for cross cultural dialogue that allows young people from the same region to celebrate their similarities and differences, and increase the mutual understanding and compassion they have for one another as neighbors. In the spirit of linking diverse communities and forging unlikely friendships, Amizade seeks support to strengthen and expand their efforts to make the power of service learning accessible to all young people.

Watch this video to see Amizade’s new engagement opportunity!

Volunteer or Intern with Amizade!

My Volunteer Experience with Embrace Tanzania

By Nicola Da Silva 

The phone buzzed and it was my mom. “Guess what? Nic, Andrew, and Lex booked a trip to Zanzibar and invited me to join. We wish you and Daniel could join to – any chance of that??” Sometimes you get invitations to events and you weakly offer to try your best to make it happen and other times you get an invitation to something and you know that no matter what you will be going! This was one of those. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about going on this trip, but as soon as I knew about it, I couldn’t think about anything else. I started making plans the very next day and everything fell into place perfectly in the 3 weeks I had to pull it off.

I also decided to contact UniversalGiving and see if they could set me up to do some volunteer work while on vacation. Amazingly they helped me find Embrace Tanzania. I emailed them and they got me in touch with Selestin, who is based in Zanzibar and manages the volunteer effort there. 2 days before I left on the trip I emailed Selestin and told him I was coming and would love to have a look at what they  were doing in Zanzibar and see if I could help and also get them connected with Universal Giving. Selestin replied straight away and gave me the address and his telephone number. By the time I checked into the hotel, he had already spoken to them to help organize a day I could come see the different volunteer sites.

On Monday April 28th, my mom and I stepped out of our hotel and into a cab and went to Bububu, Zanzibar. Selestin met us there and showed us around the building where volunteers stay and then Selestin, his colleague Edward, my mom, the cab driver, and I went for lunch. We chatted about the different volunteering options and how my mom and I could get involved. Next stop was the orphanage where Mama Suz looks after about 30 children. The house is a school in the morning; then some of the children go home and others stay at the orphanage. Some children are orphans and others have parents in the sober houses nearby.

I could see that Mama Suz tries her best to look after all these children, but I also noticed that she was conscious about the state of the building and the lack of beds for all the children. We met the kids and then had a “business meeting” in the shade of the tree. I explained what UniversalGiving does and that I would get her connected with them and then asked what her ideas were. Wow – she has such amazing plans and knows what’s important. She said, “these children are orphans and the best thing for them is to have a stable home.” She wants to buy a house so that the children feel secure; buy a bus and have other children in other villages attend her school and pay school fees; and have the school fees as an income so she can afford to look after the children in the orphanage. I loved the idea and we started chatting about what she needed for that to happen. We figured out that the best thing would be for her raise money to buy a piece of land and have a volunteer project set up to build a house for her and the children.

The next step would be to raise money for the bus and get the new children from other villages enrolled in her school. She may need to get more volunteer teachers or hire some more teachers. I offered to do all I could to help her with this dream…and to be honest ever since I got back a month ago, all I can think about is how to help Mama Suz and the children have a home.


Inspired by this amazing story? Volunteer with Embrace Tanzania now!