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How to be an effective advocate

September 20th, 2011 at 10:42 am

WACO – A public policy expert told community ministry leaders the keys to being affective advocates with lawmakers are to define the problems that need addressing, to research the issues and to build coalitions with others who care about the issue.

Frances Deviney, Texas Kids Count director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, spoke during a workshop at the “No Need Among You” conference in Waco.

Deviney gave five survival tips for “good guy lobbyists,” which are those which represent ministries and other non-profits. Her  tips are as follows:

  • Have a good sense of humor,
  • Have “sensible shoes” because lobbying requires being active,
  • Build one message and stick to it, “beat it like a drum,”
  • Understand the basics of the state lawmaking or local ordinance process, and
  • Celebrate even small successes.

“Legislators are people who have a lot going on,” Deviney said. Rather than putting together long defenses of a position, compile a “one-pager” with three main points, no more, and no more than one graph.

In making a case,” educate yourself” about the issue, present realistic solutions that are appealing for the times, and be strategic and practical, she said. Part of being strategic is know “who will be opposing” a position and seek to find common ground.

Relationships are critical to advocacy, Deviney said. “Bring in like-minded people,” and “don’t demonize the opponent.”

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