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Advocacy is in the DNA of our sector. Every day, whether it’s a front line social agency, or an arts organization, nonprofits are doing great advocacy work at the community level.
How can we as a sector lift each other up and support each other’s advocacy efforts?
Joining us today for this discussion is Cathy Taylor, the Executive Director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network.
Myths that Cathy wants us to leave behind
“I don’t have the credential/expertise/right to advocate for this”. Expertise doesn’t come from academic credentials or are not evaluated based on professional positions. The front line workers and volunteers who deliver programs to participants and see things in action have the expertise. The nonprofit sector is often the first wave of noticing issues that need to be addressed in our society.
Advocacy just takes alliance with like-minded people and organizations. Good advocacy work takes commitment to flexibility and the openness to hear feedback from voices that are different and constantly being aware of who the stakeholders have not yet heard. You can make mistakes on the way, hear constructive criticism, and be able to pivot and make adjustments.
Cathy’s tips on doing advocacy work
Form follows function. Instead of focusing on the tactics, be clear with what your goals are with your advocacy. Once you have a clear vision, come up with strategies and tactics. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when trying new tactics as well!
Unleash the power of the collective. We’re stronger when we are together. Build alliances with organizations that have seemingly similar interests, and also those that you might not think have a lot of common interests but actually have great alignment once you dig deep.
Build government relationships consistently. We need to have a strong relationship with government stakeholders to advocate for change at a policy level. Don’t try to build these relationships only when you need them. Strong relationships take work and time.
My favourite quotes from today’s episode
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“Who has the right and who has the knowledge to advocate? It's not about academic knowledge or professional position in an organization. It’s about lived experience and knowledge. Being a community member who has been impacted by a particular issue or a front line staff person at an organization tackling this issue would have that.”
It's just as important who's not at the table and whose voices are not being heard as whose voices are being heard. Do some deep listening.”
Resources from this Episode