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10 Tips for Successful Advocacy

  1. Be courteous. Use the individual’s official title in your communications (i.e. Mayor, Senator, etc.). Always remember to thank individuals for their time and interest. Always thank the elected official for their continued support. Write thank you notes when appropriate.
  2. Schedule face-to-face meetings. These meetings allow for relationships to be developed, which is essential in building ongoing partnerships and support for your program. Personal meetings also have an advantage in allowing you to provide greater insight and depth to the issues, as well as to better clarify any questions or concerns individuals may have.
  3. Invite potential stakeholders to visit your program. Inviting policy makers, businesses, foundations, school board members, and other potential partners to visit your program is important—it is a meaningful way to help them to better understand the value that your program brings to the community.
  4. Use various means of communication. Phone calls, letters and emails are all essential to effective advocacy.
  5. Be concise and specific. Be brief in your message by keeping it to two to three talking points. State your position simply and clearly, this will provide you with a greater opportunity of getting people to listen and respond. Steer clear of abbreviations and acronyms that may be confusing. Clearly state what you are asking from the elected official, business, school board, etc.
  6. Do your homework. Know the interests/background of the elected official, organization, or business that you are meeting with. Know both sides of an issue. In regards to legislation, read legislative/advocacy alerts carefully and stay informed on public hearing dates, when it is in committee, etc.
  7. Give personal examples. Personalize your message by sharing a story or a key benefit to your program. Speak from your heart—give real examples of what the program has meant to you personally or to students, staff, parents and the community. It is much more powerful to include personal examples in your advocacy than to solely discuss data and research.
  8. Utilize meaningful data and provide materials to leave behind. Share the most powerful and meaningful data. If possible, utilize documents that illustrate this data. Be honest, don’t exaggerate the facts. Leave important materials with the individual, as well as a profile of your program and any other materials that describe your program's benefits for youth and families in your community.
  9. Follow-up after meetings. Send a personal thank you note to thank individuals for their time. If you promised information, be sure to get back in touch promptly. If the person you met with offered to do something, remind them of that offer after a reasonable time and be sure to thank them for any action taken.
  10. Continue to communicate and maintain the relationship. It is important to regularly keep in touch with people after a meeting, phone call or email. Keep others informed of your progress and meetings so that follow-up action can be planned. Do not give up—advocacy is an educational process and takes time.