Enacting your Advocacy Project
Advocacy is the power to use an understanding of the world of affairs to influence decision-makers to support one’s desired cause.
This section is composed of advice for devising and launching your advocacy campaign gathered directly from Bipartisan Feminist Project interviews with federal legislators and rigorous research from our Team, including:
Routes of Communication to influence decision-makers
Advocacy Resources to make your cause stand out to decision-makers
Effective Discourse Methods to establish bipartisan support for a cause
What does an Advocacy Campaign Look Like?
Based on the BIFP Team's interviews with Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York’s 4th Congressional District and Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, we devised a list of features which can help you impact government and improve people’s lives. You may decide to make change through an educational campaign, email/call-in campaign, or a combination of the two. To develop a comprehensive and effective campaign, your campaign should include:
Include a Call to Action
A call to action is important both when sending emails to legislators and garnering civilian supporters for your cause. You can make your email stand out to legislators by not only stating your argument, but including attachments which convey exactly what you are asking of them. First, you should specify in the text of your email what you want them to do and when - instead for instance, ask Senators to prioritize a vote on the deadline extension of the ERA. Second, if your bill has not already been proposed, include an attachment of a similar bill which has been passed in another state or county. Research memos and petitions which endorse your cause can also persuade legislators to support you.
You also need a call to action for your audience. If you have an Instagram page, what do you want your followers to do? Should they email their legislator? Explaining what they should do and why will help you establish a team. The more people who support you, the more you will impact the government in the future
Canva is a free design website to produce eye-catching graphics for Instagram.
ResistBot enables you to call your supporters to action with ease and efficiency. Once you write an email, ResistBot will enable your supporters to send this email by simply sending a text message.
Google Docs enables you to produce a link to a document which includes the email to send to legislators and the names of legislators to whom you should send it. This link is a window to join your cause for your supporters on social media and off.
LinkTree enables you to place multiple links in your bio - from educational resources to Google Docs links.
Determine your Audience
Who composes your audience is dependent on your environment and the nature of your cause. It may be difficult at first to find people invested in your cause; however, as you go along, you should pinpoint the types of people who are the most invested. These people may be women in high school, other feminist organizations, or Republican feminists. You should gear your call to action and social media to attract these groups.
Once you have a team, you should learn how to make your cause appeal to people across the political spectrum. There are several strategies to achieve this in Chapter 1 of this Guidebook, “Overcoming Partisanship.”
Slack enables people and groups to create workspaces, many of which enable networking among different organizations. One prominent workspace is hosted by npocore.com - here you can meet organizations to endorse your cause by signing your petition or endorsing letters to Congress. You can also create your own workspace to communicate with your audience.
Distribute Relatable Resources
Behind each advocacy project is a well-developed message which both fuels advocates and can be broken down into catchy phrases and handouts to attract supporters. You should develop a page-long history of your cause to share on your website, Instagram, or via email to provide context to potential supporters. This history can be crystallized into digestible facts or handouts to make people remember you. Consider the memorable facts on ERACoalition.org: “94% of Americans support the ERA,” and “Every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.”
Set Specific Goals
A campaign’s goals should be rooted in a thorough understanding of the cause. Advocates should understand the allies and opposition of their cause as well as what influencers shape public opinion about the cause (Groves) and use this information to decide which legislators to contact, what information to include, and what the expected result will be. In the case of the Equal Rights Amendment, for instance, the main barrier to the Amendment’s passage is that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not brought up the deadline extension for a vote. This reveals that emails targeting McConnell and other Senate Republicans will have the most impact.
Power mapping is a tool which activists use to identify the stakeholders in their cause and the barriers to change. Using a graph, you can plot interest groups based on how much power they hold over the issue and whether or not they agree with you - providing insight on how and when to pressure various groups to make change.