Advocacy

Learn how you can rally supporters to your cause, plan a campaign, and raise money and awareness.

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is used when someone wants to effect positive change for a cause that they care about. It ranges from one person advocating for another person’s needs to an entire organization advocating for the needs of an entire community.

Advocacy is the force behind positive change in our local and global communities. Without advocacy campaigns, rallies, petitions, and the like, individuals might never know about various injustices. Advocacy is the megaphone that alerts others to problems.

Definition of Advocacy

Advocacy can be defined as the act of publicly recommending or supporting a particular cause.

Each method of advocating has its place and its need within the bigger picture and should be implemented accordingly.

As an organization, you can investigate your own mission and goals and see where advocacy fits in with the work you are doing.

For example, if your organization provides after-school educational opportunities to elementary school students, there is likely an opportunity to advocate on behalf of those students in some form or another. You can make a difference and help your program whether you raise awareness of problems in the education system through public forums, gather parents to help effect change in your community, or take other steps.

There aren’t limiting factors on how you advocate.

The important thing is that you DO advocate.

Four Ways to Think About Advocacy

Supporting

Pleading

Defending

Arguing

What is Advocacy Advertising?

As you can likely guess from the term, advocacy advertising is the process of using marketing and promotional means to support and raise awareness of a cause that you’re advocating for.

Advocacy advertising is rooted in the cause at its core. It is about drawing attention to that cause. Because that core can be so diverse, advocacy advertising can be equally diverse. For instance, both a social media campaign for a political issue and an email campaign that raises awareness of heart disease can count as advocacy advertising.

Generally speaking, advocacy advertising is meant to influence public awareness of and opinion on certain economic, political, or social issues. This marketing method can occur through a variety of channels.

Think through the ways in which your organization already communicates with your supporters and use those pre-existing practices to employ advocacy advertising.

Advocacy Marketing Methods

Televeision

Social Media

Newspapers and Magazines

Radio

What is Online Advocacy?

As a whole, our society heavily relies on the internet. Among its many benefits, it is a source of information and a way to keep in touch. Both of those benefits are crucial to successful advocacy.

If your organization isn’t leveraging the power of the internet for its advocacy needs, you are missing out.

Online advocacy employs the capabilities of the Internet and its interconnectedness to drive change. Your supporters are online, so you have to be online. It’s as simple as that.

Your online advocacy can be maximized when coupled with offline efforts. Your goal should be to use all resources available to have the biggest impact and maximize the benefits to your cause.

Online Advocacy Avenues

Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Email

Newsletters, sending out links to online petitions, etc.

Website

Focusing site content on your cause, writing informational blogs, etc.

What are Advocacy Groups?

Advocacy groups implement advocacy strategies to cause change in public policy and/or opinion. They are critical in the ongoing evolution of our social, political, and economic institutions.

Advocacy groups have quite the range and diversity of purpose, many of which involve lobbying and politics. If you’re looking to be an advocate for a non-political cause, there’s a strong chance that an outlet exists for you within a nonprofit advocacy group.

Nonprofits

A nonprofit advocates for the various causes served by their mission.

Political Action Committes (PACs)

PACs raise money from members to donate to campaigns for or against political candidates for office.

Super PACs

Known as “independent expenditure-only committees,” Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or rally against a political candidate who is running for public office without directly donating the funds to the specific political candidate.

527 Organizations

527 groups are tax-exempt organizations that influence the election or defeat of political candidates for public office. Super PACs and PACs are both 527 groups, but 527s are more of an umbrella grouping representing organizations that don’t explicitly advocate for a certain candidate or party. They aren’t regulated under campaign finance laws, and their funding is often spent on issue advocacy.

Planning an Advocacy Campaign

Like with any campaign, an advocacy campaign requires proper planning and preparation with careful attention to detail throughout.

Although these steps can be modified per the particular needs of your organization, they are a good guide to help introduce advocacy campaign planning.

If you want to effect change, you need a great plan for your advocacy campaign. Start with these five steps.

Set a Goal

You won’t be able to get very far if you don’t have a goal guiding your efforts.

Advocacy campaigns have the capacity to accomplish numerous feats, but they cannot accomplish such feats if you have no underlying benchmarks driving your work.

Define Your Message

If ten people are saying ten different things, your potential supporters won’t know who they’re supposed to support.

You have to present a unified front when it comes to campaigning. That front begins with a clearly defined message. The message will be largely influenced by the goal you set in step one.

Build a Team

The goal is for the advocacy campaign to spread, but it needs to start with a dedicated team.

Find the right people to spread the word and carry out the work laid out by your goal setting.

Create a Timeline

Just like you need a goal to act as your navigator, you need a timeline to ensure you accomplish your aims in a reasonable scope of time.

Make sure you assign checkpoints throughout the period so you can measure progress.

Develop Communications & Activities

Steps one through four need appropriate communications and activities to take them from theory to action.

Between online and offline methods, you should be able to carry out your plans for a successful advocacy campaign.

Strategies for Advocacy Campaigns

Use Offline & Online Techniques

With the help of the internet, you can readily mobilize the masses in support of your cause, but you have to think about the ways in which you’ll translate that digital momentum into actionable, real world outcomes.

Consider the Impact

When convincing people to get on board and support your advocacy campaign, you’ll need to be prepared to answer the fateful question — How will this step help the cause at its core?

Contact in the Best Way Possible

Reach your supporters when and how they like to be reached, whether that means sending out emails, making phone calls, posting on social media, or some combination thereof. At this point, advocates are lucky to have the avenues that they do to communicate with their supporters, make sure you take all available opportunities during the campaign.

Foreground Your Action Step

Draw your potential supporters directly to action and make that action easy to follow through with. If you’re asking people to go out of their way to help you, the process shouldn’t be any more complicated than it absolutely has to be.

Be Crystal Clear

Your advocacy campaign has been designed around effecting change for your cause. Your team should believe in it and have no issue being as transparent as possible at all stages.

Keep Your Friends Close

You should be doing all you can to engage your current supporters, grow your network of advocates, and target the right people to help you in your efforts. As far as keeping your supporters and potential supporters close, that will come down to acknowledging their work, giving them opportunities they can engage with, and keeping the lines of communication open.

Advocacy Metrics

Your advocacy metrics will depend largely on what the goals and actions steps for your particular campaign are.

The significance of tracking these metrics however, is universal. Metrics, sometimes called key performance indicators (KPIs), give you the context you need to evolve your own efforts and bring new supporters on board.

History repeats itself. In some circumstances that could be good thing, and in others it’s a bad thing. Know your organization’s history so that you can adjust accordingly.

Importance of Advocacy Metrics

Discover What's Working

If one campaign stalls, you’ll know there is a problem. With the assistance of success metrics though, you can pinpoint exactly where the issue is. Maybe your supporters didn’t respond well enough to your campaign letter or the action step didn’t have the desired effect.

Keep Track of How Well Your Campaigns Have Worked

That way, when you ask people to sign a petition or join a protest, you can tell them what those actions have translated to in the past.

Advocacy and Social Media

With the growth of social media, it’s no surprise that it has come to play such a pivotal role in advocacy campaigns.

Honestly, if you’re looking to start an advocacy campaign, you have to include social media. It’s a must.

Social media is not only cost effective, it’s effective-effective. It has to be a part of your next advocacy campaign if you want to reach a large audience that is ready and waiting to help.

Why Advocacy Pairs Well with Social Media

Social media is filled with online communited primed to jump into action

Online petitions make social media advocacy campaigns actionable and are easily sharable

The right use of social media can get your campaign the best kind of publicity

It's proven that social media activism translates into tangible results

Popular Jobs in Advocacy

“Advocacy job” is a broad term, encompassing a bevy of career paths. If you’re interested in bringing about change for causes you care about, you should consider seeking a career in advocacy.

Thanks to the internet, you will have plenty of resources at your fingertips to find the right job opportunity for your interests and skills.

From a full-time career in advocacy to a part-time volunteering, there are plenty of avenues you can explore to find the right fit for your interests. Just get out there and take action.

Starting Points for an Advocacy Job Hunt

Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity Knocks specializes in postings related to the nonprofit community, so if you’re interest is in advocacy, it is as good a place to begin as any. See job opportunities on Opportunities Knocks here.

Indeed

Indeed is known for its freely accessible job listings in a variety of fields. Test out the term advocacy for your location and see what results the search yields. You might just land on your dream job posting. See job opportunities on Indeed here.

Idealist

Idealist connects interested parties with jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, actions, events, and organizations within the service and nonprofit community. Idealist places an emphasis on helping people move from intention to action, a mission that pairs perfectly with the ideals of those exploring advocacy opportunities. See job opportunities on Idealist here.