Many people don’t really know what advocacy is let alone how to be effective with being an advocate for an association or charity. Generally, advocacy involves taking action by speaking up for yourself or others. Building skills for effective advocacy is critical as is developing a clear strategy with defined goals.

Many organisations are pretty much left to their own devices with little or no budget for any form of skills development. So, what are the critical aspects of ‘good advocacy’? If you want your message heard, then there needs to be some thought around how this can be done simply and effectively.

  • Know what your objective is – what is the major one thing that is important? e.g.. ‘less packaging in landfills’ could be one example.
  • Clearly define your message
    • Why is it important that people support your stance?
    • What is it about your cause that is unique and compelling
    • Use statistics to support your case
    • Use personal stories that are relevant
    • Make your message visible – use different channels
    • Put your message to the ‘so what?’ test>
  • Who is your audience, who can make a difference in making sure you achieve your objective
      • Identify the different stakeholder groups
      • Find out how best to communicate with them what are they reading/viewing/etc and when
      • What will make them sit up and take notice?
  • Networking
      • Build a network of key influencers and talk with them regularly
  • Voice of the organisation
      • Choose one person from within your organisation who can be ‘your voice&rsquo
      • Make sure your spokesperson knows what they are talking about
      • If possible make sure they know how to work with the media (training is ideal)
There was a very good article recently in Third Sector Magazine that highlights some of these considerations.