Building an Advocacy Network
Inviting others to participate in your advocacy work is a good way to build morale and increase your influence. You may know others who are already concerned about the same cause, or you may invite others to learn more. You can also contact organizations that are already working on your cause or that may be interested in getting involved. Building relationships with others can facilitate information-sharing, and creating a wide network of advocates will strengthen your campaign!
Invite those who have personal stories to call, meet with, or write to MPs. This will give legislators a direct connection with those whom a piece of legislation affects, and it can be empowering for those who share their stories.
Tips for Working with Others
- Identify your objectives clearly before “going public.” Disunity may compromise your credibility before you are able to accomplish your goals. Consistency is key!
- Be clear about the responsibilities and involvement of each of the individuals or groups in your network. Identify a leader and delegate specific tasks.
- If you have a coalition of several groups, coordinate the timing of all organizations’ advocacy activities in order to have maximum impact.
- If you choose to engage in advocacy as a part of a non-profit organization, be aware that, under the Canada Revenue Agency’s guidelines for charities, you will only be able to devote 10% of your resources to advocacy (this does not include public education).
Working with Government Officials
When it comes to working with government officials, it is important to avoid adopting an “us vs. them” mentality. Advocacy is about working with the resources that you have. If you are unwilling to work with a certain party or with the current government, it will be very difficult to bring about change.
Try to find potential allies within the government, and try to find common ground from which to start. Without compromising the firmness of your position, you can build bridges, plant seeds, and make small steps towards your goals.