Let’s face it; there’s no shortage of issues to care about and advocate for. It might seem like you need to be part of a big organization, like RTOERO, to advocate. While that’s certainly one way to do it, there is a lot that individuals can do as well.
An advocate is someone who is actively supporting a cause. As an advocate, you’ve moved beyond the role of living room activist. You’re now engaged in the issue actively and strategically.
Regardless of what causes you support, if you’re starting to feel like you want to help make a more significant change, advocacy could be the next reasonable step for you. Here are five ways to build your advocacy muscles to make an impact in your community and beyond.
It’s a misconception that you need to have a lot of connections to make a difference as an advocate. Seemingly ordinary people can have a significant influence on those around them. It’s not about one big thing – it’s about consistently showing up and aligning your efforts around a cause. Here are some ways to do that.
It’s helpful to stay informed about the latest research and thinking about the issues that you’re passionate about. You can do this by following thought leaders on social media and by subscribing to email newsletters from organizations that address your issues of concern. Staying knowledgeable will help you speak with confidence and make connections between issues when the opportunities arise.
Strategically share your learning on your social media. Post new information you come across but be cautious not to spam your friends and families who follow you, or they may tune out. Intersperse your advocacy content between regular updates.
Do some research to see if your elected officials have already made statements on the issue. If you don’t know where they stand, ask. You can send an email or make a call. This is particularly important at election time. You’ll want to reach out to candidates and even take it a step further by asking a question at an all-candidates meeting. Recognize others may be wondering too, so when you speak up and ask, you can share what you learn with your social network. Consider making a delegation at a public meeting if there’s an opportunity.
If you have volunteer hours to lend, consider joining an organization working on the subject. Many grassroots groups rely on volunteers to help keep their work going. Things like grant writing, letter writing, and other behind-the-scenes work are critical to sustaining these organizations.
Like volunteering, donating to organizations working on issues that matter to you is another way to bolster your advocacy work. You can deepen your impact by strategically aligning your volunteerism and funding on a particular issue.
Lend your voice to issues by writing letters to elected officials. Share the text of your letter with your social network and invite others to repurpose it. Sometimes people need a little nudge to get going.
Advocacy work is ongoing, and there’s no one right way to do it. As you start to be more open about issues you’re concerned about, you may feel some discomfort. It’s hard to speak up sometimes! It will become more comfortable as you build your advocacy muscles. And remember, small actions add up.
Here are RTOERO, our members have identified three key advocacy issues we focus on: seniors strategy, geriatric healthcare and environmental stewardship. Some of the strategies we use include webinars to build understanding on the issues, meetings with elected officials, responding to public consultations and awareness campaigns during elections.