Getting Started: Becoming an Advocate
Getting Started: Becoming an Advocate
Becoming an advocate for global justice allows you to put your values into action. Let’s get started!
What is Advocacy?
“The word ‘advocacy’ sometimes conjures up visions of mass demonstrations and public protests, or well-paid lobbyists in expensive suits. But a lot of advocacy is just a matter of seeing a need and finding a way to address it. It means literally ‘to plead the cause of another’ – which most of us do all the time on behalf of our neighbors, our families, our friends. Policy advocacy […] carries that ‘pleading’ into the political arena, and does it on behalf of people we may not know personally. It is a practical way to translate basic values […] into policies and laws.”- Nancy Amidei, writer, teacher and advocate
Advocacy is the coordinated strategic efforts of people like you and me to influence decision-makers and public attitudes in order to change policies or outcomes. Advocacy requires a shift in the power dynamic between decision-makers and advocates. In a successful campaign, advocates build the necessary power to make decision-makers meet their demands.
“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will.”- Frederick Douglass
Power lies in numbers. For this reason, education and public awareness raising are essential prerequisites for effective advocacy. Yet to enact lasting social change, we need to move beyond consciousness raising to the creation and protection of just, responsible policies.
Because U.S. laws have a tremendous impact on the developing world, we can use our power as constituents to urge our government to support those policies that advance social and economic justice and promote human rights and to fight to change those that do not.
- Understand your motivation and values
- What is motivating you on a specific issue and what are the values you seek to promote in taking action on this issue? To read more about AJWS’s core values, click here.
- Know your issues
- Knowing your issues means educating yourself and developing an informed opinion. Visit the AJWS website to learn more about AJWS’s current campaigns.
- Know your resources
- Take note of the time, resources and skills that you have. AJWS also has a plethora of educational and tactical resources. AJWS also has a plethora of educational and tactical resources.
- Know your allies
- Chances are there are others around you who feel similarly. Connect with those people and organizations.
- Know the players
- Advocating for your position requires that you are familiar with the actors who play decision-making roles around your issue and global U.S. policies. A good place to begin is with your local members of Congress.
- To find your members of Congress, visit: http://www.house.gov/writerep/ http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
- Know what you can do
- Look through this toolkit to get ideas and advice on effective advocacy tactics.
Reaching Decision-Makers Taking Action: Planning an Event Making Noise: Engaging the Media
- What is an Organizer? By Richard Rothstein
- A comprehensive list of resources for organizing From the Midwest Academy
- Tools for Organizing by Citizen Works
- Organizing Tools by WellstonAction!
- Organizing Toolbox from the New Organizing Institute
- Grassroots Advocacy Resources by Grantmakers in Health
- Advocacy Strategy: The Fundamentals by NP Action