How to be a better advocate
New year, new goals. Is there a spot for advocacy on your 2018 to-do list? There should be.
An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Whether you are making the case for take-out over home-cooked or arguing either side of the Affordable Care Act you are advocating. It is an innate skill, and an important one to hone. As nonprofit professionals, we likely have a cause (or many) that we care about deeply. We may work for organizations that take stands on particular policies and issue areas. Millennials are less likely to vote than any other generation. Only 50 percent of 18-29 year olds turned out to vote in the 2016 presidential election. We owe it to our communities, workplaces, and ourselves to have our voices heard.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a better advocate:
Know the issues. Know your stance.
If there is a topic you are passionate about, learn all there is to know about it. A world of information is at your fingertips. All it takes is quick google search and you will find books, articles, research, and information galore! Make sure you learn about both sides of an issue. We live in an ever-increasingly polarized world. Do your part to speak intelligently and arm yourself with facts, not talking points.
Use technology. If you can text, you can contact an elected official.
Odds are you are reading this on your phone. This blog is circulating via social media. If you can post on Facebook you can be a proactive advocate. Share reputable articles that inform your friends on issues. Share your local officials contact information and drop them a line or email them. Use this guide to help you draft an email for your representatives.
Be genuine in your advocacy. Speak out on issues that you care about and believe in. Leverage your strengths to support your causes. If you are a good public speaker, go visit your local elected official. If you are a strong writer, pen a letter to the editor.
Consider making advocacy a priority in 2018. There is no excuse not to. Identify what you care about, learn about it, and then speak up in whatever form feels best for you. If you’re looking for an easy first step, check out the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Training on Advocacy.
Wishing you an impactful 2018.