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Advocacy: tips for a successful campaign

3 min read

Advocacy is an important skill for not-for-profit (NFP) organisations as it allows associations to promote member concerns and charities to raise awareness of an important cause.

In order to be a successful advocator NFPs require a specific set of skills. These include the ability to:

1. Set goals

It is essential to establish a clear vision of what your NFP wants to achieve. If everyone at your NFP is clear on the mission the project team is less likely to get distracted by side issues, and the potential for conflict in the group is reduced.

2. Get organised

The more organised your NFP is the more credible it will look to internal and external stakeholders, such as government and media. Being organised also helps ensure time and resources are used wisely.

By focusing on why your NFP is working on the campaign and what it hopes to achieve, your NFP will be better placed to achieve its goals.

3. Inform the group

If your NFP is to appear credible, especially in the eyes of government, you will require facts from reputable sources to back up your position. Being passionate can help but if you can’t back your opinions with evidence you’re unlikely to achieve your goal.

4. Offer solutions

Don’t just raise problems – provide remedies to the issues you raise for other groups, such as local and state governments. Depending on the cause you are advocating for, it may be appropriate to highlight opportunities of which others can take advantage, including the opportunity to partner with your NFP.

5. Always show respect

You won’t get very far if you resort to belittling anyone who stands between you and your goal. It might attract some media attention, but it also discourages other groups from working with you.

A co-operative, respectful approach is much more likely to be successful in the longer term. Remember, you are representing your organisation, its members, board and stakeholders, so act accordingly.

6. Seek help from experts

There are lots of people in the community, government and other organisations with an incredible array of technical, communication, marketing, leadership and specialist skills who will be able to improve the strength of your campaign.

7. Collaborate internally and externally

Internal harmony refers to respecting other members of your organisation and their opinions. This is a necessity if you’re going to succeed. In addition, seek and secure opportunities to work with other groups who share your goal. Together, you’re likely to achieve much more than you could on your own.

8. Be inclusive

If you can create an environment in which everyone is welcome and everyone feels valued, you will be amazed at the depth and breadth of skills that people bring to the table.

If you’re inclusive, you’re also less likely to fall into the trap of speaking for other people who don’t want to be spoken for, or putting their positions across inaccurately.

9. Reflect

Make time to consider what you have achieved and why your method worked. Always celebrate your achievements, big or small, as it motivates the team to go on and achieve bigger and better things.

It is just as important to contemplate what didn’t work. Think about how the group is working together and what you could be doing better. Encourage members of the group to contribute. Reflect on your goals, whether they’re being achieved or are achievable, and whether you’ve got the right mix of short, medium and long-term goals.

10. Promote

Promote your advocacy efforts and achievements to the media, government, members or donors of your NFP and relevant industries. Promotion is a powerful tool that can influence people and governments to change, maintain team morale and attract new members/donors.

11. Keep a record

Whether it is a phone call, email or letter, try to write down the details of who you communicated with, what you said and what was agreed. It will be helpful if you have to follow up something or if you would like to thank someone at a later date.

12. Say thank-you

When someone delivers on your request thank them and acknowledge their efforts. This encourages positive relationships to be built, which may prove useful during your NFP’s future endeavours.

By following these tips, your NFP will improve the chances of achieving its goals.

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