Thursday, September 25, 2008

Forming an Advocacy Habit: Plan for Persistence

I sometimes hear advocates say "But I've tried EVERYTHING with Congressman, Councilperson, Senator X and I can't get anywhere. They obviously won't listen to me. This advocacy stuff doesn't work very well."

I recognize that it is frustrating to deal with recalcitrant elected officials who don't see the world as you do. But that doesn't mean there isn't hope! When I delve a little deeper into this complaint, I often find that the "everything" that was done was two letters, a phone call and a meeting. That's certainly a great deal, don't get me wrong, but it's nowhere near everything you can or need to do to capture an elected official's interest, especially when he or she might be inclined to disagree with you.

As such, today's habit forming activity is to think NOW about the 10 things you might do to "step up" your advocacy efforts in these situations. Write them down so the next time you feel like you've done everything, you're sure you know what that entails. I'll give you three to get started:

To be as persistent as possible I have:

1. Asked the elected official to submit a statement to the Congressional Record (for the U.S. Congress) or write an article for our newsletter (for Congress and others)
2. Asked the elected official to visit a facility / site / beneficiary of our services in his or her district
3. Learned something about the elected official's own priorities and tried to connect with him or her on those terms (i.e., offered to help with a legislative initiative or asked a friend / supporter of the elected official to reach out).

Come up with seven more and you're done with your habit for today!

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