New York State Coalition For Aging

1450 Western Ave, Ste 101
Albany, NY 12203
518-463-8656 (Fax)


12 steps to pass legislaion | Legislators - why you should care |
Elements of successful advocacy

Basic Elements of Successful Advocacy pg 2

Advocacy Steps

How to begin in your community

1. Must analyze the local power structure. All communities have them
- Who appears to have the power? -
Who is on city council, boards of hospitals, banks, committees, etc.?
- Whose name appears in the paper when opinions are sought?
- Who finances things in community, gives campaign contributions?
- Who supports your elected officials

Talk with some of these people and ask them whose opinion do they really respect.

How do you take on the existing power base?

1. Never by yourself, only with a developed power base - community members sharing issue/concern
2. By putting the existing power base into a position of reaction
- if you have an issue, have you gone to the existing organization to address it?
- Try holding a meeting with existing organization to address issue.
3. Form a coalition under a new coalitions name - everyone flies under the same flag
- all groups/individuals give up something to participate in the coalition
- form a coalition around a single issue
- helps not to overwhelm one group
- united effort by diverse groups is how things get done
- people are not played off against each other if working together

Power is not static - continually changes and rearranges, it is constantly revised and evaluated.

Strategy and Tactics

7 questions to ask

1. Will the people accept it?
2. Will it dramatize and build the issue?
3. Will it throw the opposition off balance?
4. Will it personalize the opposition?
5. Will it be fun for the people?
6. What alternatives must be planned?
7. Will it get us to the bargaining table?

1. Will the people accept it? The people are the people in your coalition. They must be comfortable with what your strategy and tactics are. There must be a logical progression in the strategy. Strategy for new groups has to build slowly and in logical progression. It Takes time!

2. Will it dramatize the issue? Your strategy should be dramatic so that it is evident even to an outsider that people are upset and want something changed. Dramatization gets the organization press and helps build the organization on the streets, recruiting more to help out.

3. Will it throw the opposition off balance? A good tactic is something that the opposition is not expecting, placing them out of the realm of their comfort zone and familiarity

4. Will it personalize the opposition? Very important to understand that there is SOMEONE within the organization/structure who can give you what you want. Focus your strategies around the one person until they tell you that someone else has the power to make the decision. Why? People see their problem as having a resolution in an individual

5. Will it be fun? Strategies should be fun. People are pretty much bored and may be disconnected. When things are fun, you want to do them, you talk about them, others want to be a part of it.

6. What alternatives must be planned? Before going to a public meeting or action, you must discuss with your leadership alternatives. What if they say yes to x and y but no to z. What do want to do if they don't show up. This way if circumstances change, you are ready to deal with them. You want to keep you opposition off balance, not your own group.

7. Will it get us to the bargaining table? The purpose of all of these steps and your advocacy is to get to the bargaining table to negotiate demands.

Coalition Building

Coalition - the purpose of coalitions are to amass enough power to win an issue that you could not win by yourself

All partners have to give up something to work together - all members should be represented on steering committees and at larger meetings, equally. All should have equal say in what is happening and decision making.

Building a coalition - look at an issue and find others in your community who might want to join

Frame the issue for them - have to be able to describe how this is important or why they should be involved

To Build Power - need victories - this helps keep the group together and issue sustainable. Community residents must see results or they lose interest, get frustrated or say "I knew we could not do anything" Even little victories should be highlighted.

Intermediate Victories - small, stepping stone victories - i.e. get someone to come to a meeting Keeps issue alive - helps reach primary victories

Primary Victories - goals set by the group

Local Help - Who Can You Tap

• service organizations - lions, kiwanis - donate funds and equip
• Professional associations - may be able to donate expertise
Schools and universities - sources of expertise and donated services, students for internships, surveys, office space, photocopying "
• Local business - donate products, equipment "
• Foundations - $ "
• Govt. agencies - ofa, elected officials
• Churches - $, volunteers, newsletter
• Service providers - hospitals, clinics, nursing associations, housing authorities, legal assistance - package issue to appeal to them
• Personal contacts - well connected influential person in community
• Coalitions - other groups

Local Politics - how you can have more influence
- can organize to get your member on boards, village office, etc.
- stay bipartisan - do not take political side - make enemies fast
- Pursue solutions where everyone wins - frame it that way
- Stick to the issues - don't get caught up in controversies
- Go to county budget meetings, gatherings, etc.
- Be visible

O Print fact sheets, position papers and brochures and distribute them to groups who share an interest in the issue. Be sure your material states "what you can do to help" as well as important phone numbers and addresses.
O Reach out to other groups and try to work together on the issue. The more support from a diverse coalition, the greater your impact.
O Establish a speaker's bureau to publicize the issue by scheduling presentations to community groups. Urge them to take a specific action.
O Develop a media campaign to get your message out.
O Coordinate letters to the editor. Have people write a letter once a week on your issue to keep in fresh in the public's mind.
O Keep people informed by writing articles for newsletters. It is important for people to see that their efforts have made a difference.
O Meet with editorial boards, radio and TV stations, public radio, etc. to get the most media "bang for the Buck."

Using The Media
- Is your ally and the way to get your message out, recruit volunteers, and reach the public at large
- credibility is #1 - make sure the info you distribute is accurate present cohesive, professional image of yourself and your group
- Keep them informed and up to date about what you are doing, action plans, meeting dates, etc.
- designate a few spokespeople and stick to the plan
- Create letterhead and business cards if you change or make up a group name
be brief and clear in your message - the simpler the better
- ask about deadlines, what days are best, whose in charge
- make up one page fact sheet on issue
- network, cable, radio, newspaper, public tv
- likes trouble stories, how people are bettering their lives, have visuals if possible, hold press events at the site of problem, use newsletters
- use free press - letters to the editor and op/eds.
- editorial board meetings
- weekend and evening TV shows
- public access

Action Ideas
Meetings to discuss issues, plan actions, educate policy makers
Literature drop - neighborhoods, senior centers, etc.
- Purchase adds in the paper
- Post card campaign
- Letter writing campaign
- Town/city board resolutions
- Introduce legislation
- Town meetings
- Hearings
- Rally's and marches
- Protests
Letters to the editor
- Petitions
- Fairs - set up information table
- Invite key people to "see" the problem
- Lawn signs
- Fund raisers/awareness
- Radio and TV shows