Advocating for Your Cause:The 4 “I’s” of Advocacy and Rules of Engagement
Presented byTexProtects, The Texas Association for the Protection of Children
“Thereare numerous ways to successful advocacy. Its an art rather than ascience.” – Madeline McClureRules of EngagementKnow your Audience & Build Relationships (Identify)Tell the Story and Engage (Build Interest)Tailor your Message (Inform)Know your Stats, Facts, and Figures (Inform)Make the Ask and Be Persistent! (Investment)
Step 1: Know your Audience: The Rules of EngagementWho has jurisdiction over your issue?Is ita Legislator? City councilmember?County judge?Identify the “leadership” and who represents you. You are a constituent of many.Please note:staff are bridges and gatekeepers to elected officials. Oftentimes they are just as critical to reach and educate.Know the priorities of your target audience. How does your issue fit within their larger priorities?Always do bio or background checks! You may share a common interest or run in similar circles. (The 6 degrees of separation)Build and foster those key relationships!It doesn’t happen overnight.
State Representatives (Senator andRepresentative):http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspxCounty Representation:http://www.dallascounty.org/department/comcrt/whois.phpCity Council:http://dallascityhall.com/government/Pages/city-council.aspx
Tell the Story & Build Interest
Step 2: Tell The Story and Engage (Build Interest)Why does your issue matter? Before advocating, you must first build interest in an issue.Don’t define an issue withoutproviding a solution!Collaborate with other organizations and individuals with similar goals/missionsOrganize an event and ask your legislator or representative to attendGet in touch with local media to cover your issue:Op-EdsHuman Interest StoryBlog
Tailor your Message: Inform
Step 3: Tailor you Message (home visiting as an example)When defining your program to prospective funders or supporters, there are some do’s and don’ts.Know the “buzz” wordsDon’t assume they know. Be careful of acronyms –spell it out.You will likely only have15 minutesto make your case.
Example Definition:Parents as Teachers (or other program) is anevidence-based, voluntary,family supporthome visiting program that works withat-riskfamilies with youngchildren, 0-5.Working with families in atwo-generationapproach, within the comfort of their home environment during the most critical time in a child’s development. Whenfamilies are provided with access toresources, support, and educationin their homes fromprofessionals(such as nurses, healthcare providers, or social workers),they receive the help they need to become moreresilient, better able to handle stress, and more confidentraising their children. As a result, children are able to livesafer and healthier lives, which sets them up on a trajectory where they are on track togrow and learn.
Know your Stats, Facts, Figures: Inform
Step 4: Know your Stats, Facts, and Figures (Inform)Verifiable data is your strongest partnerKnow your Current Reach and Need:Know how many families you are reaching in THEIR school district, legislative district, county, etc. Don’t forget about the need. Clearly articulate the unmet need and the# of families additional $ could serve.Example: There are nearly 225,000 families with children under age 5 in Texas that could greatly benefit from family support programs like home visiting. We are only reaching 10% of those families.Additional funding could serve X more families in need.Know your ROI – Return on Investment:Business leaders want to make smart investments. If you know your program’s ROI, use it!
Know your Stats, Facts, Figures: Inform
Step 4: Know your Stats, Facts, and Figures Cont’dKnow your Outcomes:Give results!If you are advocating for a program that exists or being implemented, know most recent outcomes in the local community.Don’t assume because something worked somewhere else, it works in Dallas or Texas. Build the case.Don’t overpromiseoutcomes (critical!).You will be held accountable to demonstrate those outcomes. Know what yourprogram or solutiondoes and doesn’t do.Show visuals rather than just numbers or words on a page.Always have your data sources and references to show credibility.
Example Outcomes that Resonate (example outcomes across multiple HV programs – demonstrate the continuum/impact across lifespan):
Make the Ask and Be Persistent (Investment)
Step5: Make the Ask and Stay PersistentOne meeting likely won’t yield the result you want. You must be persistent, no matter your audience.Don’t forget to make theask.Be sure to leave a meeting with a request. What specifically do you want them to do? Again, have a solution -> don’t just go with a problem .Follow-up after meetings. Write letters, send pictures of your program. Keep in front of your audience. They have lots of other programs, funding priorities, interestsShare program successes as frequently as possibleAsk them to go on a ride along or visit your program. Nothing is more powerful than seeing the work happen.
Madeline McClure, CEOmadeline@texprotects.orgPamela McPeters, Director of Public Policypamela@texprotects.orgSophie Phillips, COOsophie@texprotects.org
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, “The Science of Early Childhood Development.”http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/childcare/documents/scienceearlychildhooddevelopment.pdf(Accessed August 5, 2011).Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect,” (2008). (accessed February 4, 2011).http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.pdf.Pew Charitable Trusts. (February 2015). Communicating the Data for Performance Initiative.http://www.texprotects.org/media/uploads/data_for_performance_initiative_communicaitons_(3).pdf