Tips on Advocacy
Locate who represents you and your organization
Check out the calendars to find out when and where are upcoming meetings
Find out what the language and status of ordinances and bills, as well as existing statutes and laws
Check out an elected official’s voting history and/or committee membership
Listen to live audio/video of government meetings or other activity or attend IN PERSON
Read about and listen to issues that are important to you and your organization in local media outlets
Contact your local media directly or write letters-to-the-editor or guest columns about the issues that matter most to you
Local and Statewide Advocacy Organizations
More Tips on Advocacy
Excerpted from “13 Ways to Get Lucky in the Legislature,”
by Ran Coble of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research
1. First, be specific as to what you want from a legislator, county commissioner, or an agency official in the executive branch. If it’s money, say exactly how much and what it’s for. If it’s a law or regulation, try to say or write in plain English how you think the law should read.
2. Second, work at the committee level, and always talk to the committee chairperson. If you wait until a decision is made, you may have waited too long, you have less chance of affecting policy, and you’ve narrowed your options.
3. Third, try to help the decision-makers to see a problems, by telling stories or by showing them problem.
4. Fourth, put your position and what you want in writing. The process of writing it down will actually refine your own thinking and help the policymaker. But don’t use jargon or acronyms, and keep what you write for the policymaker brief – to one page if you can.
5. Fifth, do your homework on your facts, your opponent’s facts, and the people who have the power to make policy. Produce a fact sheet that supports your position and check behind yourself. Never lie, and do not try to hide facts that cut against your position; you’ll lose the trust of the public official. Your credibility is your most effective asset in advocacy or lobbying.
6. Sixth, use your numbers of people – your clients, your members, and your volunteers. Nothing impresses a policymaker like large numbers, and numbers are most organizations’ main strength. There are 4 main resources in policy and politics – money, talent, credibility, and people. The most effective groups have as many of their members, clients, or volunteers call as many elected officials as possible. Also, don’t concentrate all your calls on one person because then you’ll get one vote. Call as many members of the committee or policymaking board as possible. Call the opponents last but do call them; this may make them more willing to compromise or at least keep them from being so vocal.
7. Seventh, form an alliance or coalition with other groups with the same concerns. There is strength in numbers, but greater strength in greater numbers. Coalitions tend to work better on single, short-term issues than on broad, long-term packages of issues.
8. Eighth, don’t ever threaten elected officials– saying you’ll see that they won’t get re-elected for example! It makes them do the opposite of what you want.
9. Ninth, go visit the decision makers in person. The “system” in North Carolina is still remarkably open. Ask the legislators or policymakers point-blank – but diplomatically – if they support your position. It is much harder for a policymaker to say “no” to a person than to a sheet of paper.
10. Tenth, meet with your opposition and see if you can reach a compromise. Having both sides present a compromise or consensus position is a very powerful tool for getting something passed.
11. And don’t forget to thank the official. Praise them in a letter to the editor (but not as a campaign endorsement). Give them an award. Let your members know who helped them, and ask them to thank the official also. Public officials usually only hear from people who are dissatisfied or unhappy. And, to keep them on your side, you have to let them know that their action is helping someone.