Why Advocate? To bring the change that will help your ASC BY DANIELLE KASTER

What is advocacy? Does it even matter? Advocacy is a fancy

word for people standing up for what they value. It

matters because it is the catalyst for change and improvement. Many peo- ple are unaware of the different ways they can advocate for what is important to them. Others view advocacy with skepticism, believing their efforts to be futile, but everyone has the power to make an impact. Do not let the myths about advocacy deter you.

Myth 1: ‘I’m not qualified’ Who is more qualified to speak on an issue than those who share a personal or daily connection to it? The advocate hat is not ‘one size fits all,’ and each experience adds meaning and context to the issue. An effective advocate does not need to be a professional in the issue’s industry. A survey from the Congres- sional Management Foundation found that when delivering a message, con- stituents possess the most persuasive power. These individuals illustrate the impact of the issue on the people the lawmakers represent.

In addition, most issues have an

organization that can provide informa- tion and materials to help advocates feel confident and educated. The orga- nization also will have different oppor- tunities for involvement.

Myth 2: ‘It’s all politics’ Sometimes advocacy can get politi- cal, especially when it comes to ‘hot topics’ issues. Most times, however, advocacy is about creating aware- ness and building relationships: rela-

30 ASC FOCUS MAY 2019 |


Join ASCA’s State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, May 15, from 12:00–4:00 pm at the 2019 State Leaders Conference. This free event is taking place at the ASCA 2019 Conference & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. ascastateleadersconference

tionships with the public, with law- makers, with foundations/donors and with volunteers. Advocacy is about being informed

and engaging the community, includ- ing legislators.

Myth 3: ‘I’m too busy’ Advocacy is about the small actions of many people. It can be writing a letter, sending an email, attending an event or volunteering your time.

Change starts with small steps.

Movements can gain national attention through small actions in local commu- nities. In the words of Theodore Roo- sevelt, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”

Myth 4: ‘Someone else will do it’ There are people who want to help but don’t know what to do. There are people who have great ideas but don’t know how to implement a plan. Every- one plays a significant role in creat- ing awareness of an issue, establish- ing relationships with key stakeholders and educating the public about ways they can help.

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