Creating Advocacy from Scratch: Don’t forget the flavor

Last post, I talked about just adding water to create your advocacy.  But, who really likes JUST rice for dinner?  You need some flavor to add to that instant rice.  Adding flavor to your advocacy efforts means…

creating the direction that you want your advocates to take.

The message I heard from discouraged advocates was – “I just don’t know where to start.”  But, the message I hear all the time from organizations that are struggling with advocacy is…

I just can’t get my advocates to move in the same direction at the same time.

The tools are there, and your advocates are most likely taking it upon themselves to act as they see fit.  But I have heard it said well from Dan Hawkins at NACHCIf 100 signatures are good, then 1000 signatures are better.  When an organization’s advocates work apart from each other, then they may be doing some good work, but as an organization, you want that work to be better.

Adding flavor means
adding incentive.

Having an incentive allows you to create guidelines for your advocates to earn it.  Incentives vary depending on what your advocates like, how much you can spend, and what will garner the effort.  The decision is ultimately up to you.  But here are three ways to keep your audience engaged and attracted to your incentive.

  1. Make it achievable – Even when you create goals for yourself, you may shoot for the stars but create achievable steps in completing this.  According to your cause’s goal – what are some achievable steps that individual advocates or teams of advocates can achieve?
  2. Keep them updated – there are A LOT of online techniques to keep your advocates up to date on how well they are doing as a whole (read: website dashboards).  But the most important tool to use here is email.  Underrated in the game mentality, if you send individual advocates milestone emails thanking them, then you will keep them energized and pleased knowing that they are on  the right track.
  3. Highlight successes publicly – This can do one of two things for advocates who did not get their story highlighted.  A competitive spirit will take over making them want to be the one in the spotlight or a more academic spirit will take over, and they will learn something from the person who was successful.

So go ahead and add a little flavoring to your advocacy campaign… you may even catch yourself saying this in your office –

Creating Advocacy from Scratch: Just add water

Often when I speak to people about standing up for issues that they believe in, I hear the same reason for why they are NOT currently advocating for the organizations and causes that are in line with these issues…

I just don’t know where to start.

It can be really intimidating to think about calling Congress in support of an issue, meeting with others who could help, or even tweeting about your beliefsWhat if I actually speak to the Senator?  What if they ask me questions? What exactly do I say? What if someone disagrees?

All of these questions are fair… they are questions that run through the head of every advocate no matter if they have been doing it for years or weeks.  But these questions are GREAT to ask yourself because it means you want to be prepared.

[insert water here]

Water splash
flickr photo by dr_relling

Just like instant rice, an advocate isjust waiting for the water (or tools) to start advocating.  There are plenty of ways to distribute these tools, but the first step is creating your toolkit.

So do it! Create tools for your supporters to share information about the work your organization is doing.  Check and see if there is a national association that is leading the way in advocacy with regards to the issues your organization is trying to tackle.

Here are 4 questions to get you brainstorming on what to include in your advocacy toolkit…

  1. If I had 5 minutes with a legislator, what would be the message I want to leave them with?
  2. If there were 3 success stories that exemplify the core of my organization’s mission who or what would they be?
  3. Can I fit my organization’s mission, history and strategic plan on one page? If so, do it.
  4. If advocates are active on social media, do I have a place for them to go to find short advocacy messages to share on their networks?

Through the next couple of months, I will be implementing an advocacy campaign for an organization that has had little organized advocacy.  Subscribe to this blog here and walk through the process with me!

The 4 cornerstones of an organization worth advocating

Yesterday, I gave an introduction to this post.  But, I got a lot of reaction asking for more specifics on the organization worth advocating most. The best way that I could be more specific was to map out the four must haves in an organization that can be most effective at serving those in America who need a step in the right direction.

Here are the 4 cornerstones of the organization I would advocate for most…

1) Access to all who need assistance

This comes with an obvious constraint – no way you can serve EVERYONE – but with a culture set on efficiency and with outreach teams set on finding community resources that can help properly and provide services prescribed.

It can be achieved.

2) Community first mindset

Georgia Guide Stones
flickr photo by Complicated

This mindset means what it says – community first. Many companies have the community in mind, but the first thing in mind is the bottom line.  Another constraint comes with this – how are you going to operate if you aren’t focused on having the funding to keep the doors open?

To be honest, this will be the toughest cornerstone to have present.  I am continually learning about nonprofits, social business, and social entrepreneurship, and I hope to eventually find an answer on how to have a profitable company that does put the community before business.

3) Integration of Care

This is where medical and social needs are met.  Integrated care happens when not only primary care providers, nurses and staff work together. Integrated care happens when providers work with case workers for housing assistance, employment training, nutrition classes and more.  Tracking clients through all forms of “medicine” (for a lack of a better term) allow for integrated care to treat the whole person.

With the advancements in electronic medical records and technology, efficiency is becoming easier.  Really the only constraint you meet here is when clients do not follow up or do not have proper documentation such as a social security numbers, birth certificates, and so on. Building a culture of collaboration and teamwork and having teams break out of their silos is the key to integrated care.

4) Gives Clients the Tools to Pay It Forward

Not to be confused with being required to pay it forward.  The only way to profit and increase community health is by helping all and assisting further those who are willing to gain the tools to help others in need.  The constraint here comes within the person (meaning the client).  As an organization, showing compassion for a new client and pride in a client’s success can be infective, and those who are willing will further extend the reach of the organization.

There are many programs out there that are moving in this directioncommunity health centers, homeless programs, and home visitation models.  And, I will continue to support these types of organizations; however, as competition for funding continues to rise, I think the real growth will come from organizational culture shifts to work together to serve the WHOLE person and not just part of them.

A quick author’s note
: These past two blog posts have been used as a brainstorming method for myself.  If you have stumbled across this post or if I have asked you to give me feedback, then I appreciate any rebuttal/approval/suggestions that you have.  The fantastic thing about social media and advocacy is the ability to quickly gain ideas from many different viewpoints.

Would you add any cornerstones to this organization?
How would you tweak any of them?

Comment below, discuss on Facebook, or tweet me!

America’s Safety Net needs patches… an organization worth advocating!

Ever since I started blogging about social media and how it could be used for advocacy, I have been looking for the right answer to which organization I would advocate for most.  I have advocated for community health centers, homeless organizations, and those who provide basic human rights.  But reading an article written by Joel John Roberts on Poverty Insights gave me a look into an organization that deserves much attention and maybe the most advocating.

Net on blue
flickr photo by tanakawho

Roberts’ post was a reaction to Mitt Romney’s quote saying that our country has a “very ample safety net”.  I do not agree with this statement, but that would be a reason to write an entire new post.

A big part of advocacy is pushing legislation to increase funding for many of America’s safety net programs and projects.  While this will never end and most times is necessary, I think there is something more fundamental to help patch the holes in America’s safety net programs.

In Roberts’ article, he mentions a survey commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of primary care providers and pediatricians.

Four in five physicians say patients’ social needs are as important to address as their medical conditions.

You can read the article on the survey at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s website.

I think the most important finding of the survey was that if physicians had the power to write prescriptions for a patient’s social needs, they would. And maybe even more importantly…

Nine out of 10 primary care providers who serve urban and low-income patients would write prescriptions for housing assistance, employment and education assistance.

The Health Centers Program is on track to become an organization that can care for people’s social needs and medical needs, but there are many characteristics that go into being an organization that one organization that would be one I would advocate for the most.
What do you look for in an organization that makes it worth advocating?
What steps do we need to take to help America’s safety net be more effective?
Comment below, we can discuss on Facebook, or tweet me!  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Indy has set many records during Super Bowl Week. Let’s set one more – one that is REALLY important!

  • Indiana Food Banks provide food for an estimated 694,500.
  • 10% of those served are between the ages of 0 and 5.
  • 36% of clients reported to have to choose between food and medicine or medical care.
    (Stats taken from HUNGER IN AMERICA 2010
    Indiana (9922) State Report
    by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.)

Indiana has already set many records during this Super Bowl week.  With your help, we can set another one!  And this record will last a lot longer than the week of the Super Bowl.

There are many great events surrounding Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.  Our NFL Experience has drawn bigger crowds than most NCAA Final Fours.  The live concerts held in the Super Bowl Village boast a lineup with more acts than Bonnaroo!  Ziplines have drawn HUGE crowds – 6 hour waits, Jimmy Fallon did it, and check this out –

Two girls with #zipline tickets just sold two New Yorkers their tickets for $500 cash. A $480 profit. #SB46
April D Gregory

…the weather?  The weather in Indy is smashing record highs for February!

One list that does NOT have Indiana at the top recently? 

The amount raised for Taste of the NFL: Party with a Purpose®.  The Taste of the NFL brings together top chefs and NFL greats for a strolling food and wine event benefiting hunger relief efforts in all NFL team cities! (You can still buy tickets for Indy’s event on Saturday, Feb 4.)

Help bring Indiana to the top!

Currently the Super Bowl Host state is sitting in 6th place with $4,222.00And, we have some work to do to catch up to Atlanta’s $17,750.00!  Indiana has shown some major midwest hospitality to visitors as near as Ohio and Illinois to as far as Europe (and that guy wrote an AWESOME article about the experience).

Sometimes, the need for hospitality to our own neighbors comes second to making sure our visitors have a great time and experience, but we can’t forget those who need help right here in our own state.

All proceeds from Saturday’s event and online donations designated to the Indianapolis Colts team page go to Gleaners Food Bank right here in Indianapolis!

Gleaners Food Bank redistributes food to more than 400 Hunger Relief Charities who serve Indiana’s hungry.  Learn more about the process or watch the video below to learn how your support affects the health of Indiana.

3 Ways to get Indiana to the top!

  1. DONATE! A few clicks can make a difference.  Enter the amount you feel can make the best impact.  And if you do give, feel free to boast a little about it!  Your enthusiasm can encourage others to join you.
  2. Click the Facebook or Twitter Icon here – – to share this post with your friends, fans, family and followers to get them on board!
  3. Hosting your own Super Bowl party?  Make it a Party with a Purpose® and ask your friends for a $5 cover (much cheaper than a downtown bar) but all proceeds from your OWN party could go to the Taste of the NFL!