This article was originally published on npENGAGE.
Advocacy is a way to showcase your organization’s mission while solving a problem at the same time. With a plan and resources, you can arm your biggest supporters with the tools they need to be stewards for your cause. But how do you create an advocacy program that actually works?
This year, I had the privilege to join fellow museum professionals at Museum Advocacy Day. If you’ve never had an advocacy program at your organization, here are a few pointers from the event that you can use as inspiration.
A Closer Look at Museum Advocacy Day
Museum Advocacy Day, created by the American Alliance of Museums and sponsored by Blackbaud, provides supporters the tools they need to spread the word about important issues regarding museums. This year, the two-day program was held in Washington, D.C and more than 380 advocates from all 50 states rallied together. Their mission: to visit with elected officials and discuss funding for museums.
Before making their way to Capitol Hill, supporters were provided with:
- Briefs that outline key museum issues from economic impacts to historic preservation
- State-by-state snapshots with funding figures from government programs
- Tips for speaking with officials and key committee members
- Leave-behind packets highlighting the impacts museums have on their communities
Armed with a plethora of information, advocates made their ways to meet with elected officials from their home states. While the results from an advocacy program like this can’t be measured immediately, their impact can be everlasting. Even after meeting, advocates have tools at their disposal to keep the conversation going with pre-written letters and social media posts.
Key Takeaways for Creating Your Own Advocacy Program
- Identify: What is it that you want your supporters to help spread the word about? This could be anything from helping raise money for a new program to showcasing a new exhibit.
- Inform: It’s important that your advocates have all the facts. Those are going to be their strongest weapon. Prepare them with material that outlines the issue and provide any facts and figures.
- Role Play: Help your advocates make their case for your cause by giving them a sense of what they can expect. Provide them with talking scripts if necessary so that they can practice what they are going to say.
- Social: Create a social campaign and draft posts with relevant hashtags that people can easily share with their own networks.
- Top of Mind: Create a one-pager that outlines your mission, the cause being advocated for, and how others can help.
- Give Thanks: Without your supporters, sharing your mission can only go so far. It’s with their passion that the word spreads about causes that are important to your organization—and to them. Make sure they know you appreciate everything they do to help advance your cause.