Get In The Game: Advocate

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Nonprofits are created for a variety of reasons. Some seek to increase awareness and funding for a cure while others seek to engage the public on social justice issues. Despite the reasoning why a nonprofit was created, all nonprofits want to be successful. As a result, all nonprofits have a mission along with goals they want to achieve.

But how is success measured for a nonprofit? Success for nonprofits involve a multitude of factors including fundraising and gaining new members. Also, an organization’s measurement of success can fluctuate depending upon who is measuring it. An organization’s success can be measured from the viewpoint of the donors, supporters, staff, members, and board. However, the universal litmus test for a successful nonprofit is achieving its core mission and goals. 

Regardless of a nonprofit’s unique mission and goals, legislative advocacy can be an effective tool to further the organization’s cause.  A nonprofit organization that is involved in legislative advocacy ultimately allow their members to see an active organization championing their cause.

Furthermore, participating in legislative advocacy allows the issues of the nonprofit to get on the elected official’s radar. Legislative advocacy involves propelling the mission and goals of a nonprofit beyond fundraising and gaining new members but into the realm of government. As a result legislative advocacy involves correlating your nonprofit’s purpose alongside a legislative agenda that best work for your organization and its members. 

However, nonprofits should be strategic in how they approach legislative advocacy and always keep their organization’s mission and goals in the forefront of everything they do. Below are three effective strategies to help propel your nonprofit organization’s legislative advocacy efforts.

Strategy 1: Form Coalitions

We’ve all heard the cliché “two is better than one”. In advocacy, working alongside other like-minded groups can leverage a nonprofit’s advocacy power. Building and working to form a coalition with other like-minded nonprofits is a great advocacy strategy. The nonprofit can form coalitions for a specific legislation or for an ongoing advocacy agenda.

Working with the right coalition could exponentially propel a nonprofit’s advocacy efforts. However, working with the wrong coalition could halter its advocacy efforts. When seeking out other nonprofits to build and form a coalition with it is important to ask critical questions similar to the vetting process of board members.

Furthermore, determine if the other nonprofits have similar goals as your organization, ask their viewpoint on certain legislation important to your cause and also ask their recommendations on policy issues that affect your nonprofit.

Strategy 2: Host Town Hall Meetings

Hosting a town hall meeting is a great way to invite an elected official to speak with their constituents. It is also a great way to let the elected official know your organization’s concern and stance on certain legislative issues. Town hall meetings allow an open forum for diverse conversation.

Therefore, town hall meetings are a great opportunity for your nonprofit to hear the views of your members and supporters as well as the general public. When hosting a town hall meeting with an elected official it is important to have an agreed upon time frame for the elected official to speak and answer questions.

Also, it is important to inform the elected official of the agenda so they can best be prepared to speak on the issues that pertain to the organization. Lastly, town hall meetings do not have to be formal events; they can be an invite only event hosted at a board member’s house.

Strategy 3: Writing Elected Officials

Thanks to democracy getting in contact with elected officials shows your participation in the democratic process. Although there are various forms of getting in contact with elected officials including by phone call and social media, writing your elected officials still is an effective means to getting your organization’s voice heard.

Whereas a phone call can be limiting and sometimes time consuming and social media is a public forum, writing an elected official is not only a personal exchange but also provides a way for the organization to clearly outline their legislative issues and provide statistical research to help support its argument. When presented in an educational manner a letter written to the elected official could be very effective.

To learn more effective ways that nonprofits can advocate for their causes, join Foundation Center's webinar Advocacy Strategies for Nonprofits with instructor Cheree Felder on Tuesday, April 11 at 2:00 pm ET

 
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CHEREE FELDER is a government relations professional dedicated to helping others get their voices heard in government. As a citizen advocate and founder of Policy TakeOver, an advocacy consulting company, Cheree has spent countless hours advancing education, civil rights, food security, healthcare and economic security policy. After more than eight years in the healthcare industry Cheree merged her love for healthcare and public policy by obtaining a Master’s Degree from George Mason University in Heath and Medical Policy. 

Advocacy