How to Start an Advocacy Group

An advocacy group consists of individuals who gather to discuss, explore, promote and/or lobby for a particular cause. Homelessness, disabilities, environmental concerns and child abuse are just a few examples of issues that motivate people in search of a solution to form an advocacy group. Such groups may be initiated by 1 or 2 people or entire organizations. Here are the steps for starting an advocacy group.


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    Identify your cause and reason for creating the group. An advocacy group or self-help group for people with disabilities might gather to provide support for its members and increase societal awareness about relevant issues. A group devoted to assisting the homeless may gather to brainstorm ways to generate resources and assistance. Be specific about the cause and your objective.
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    Conduct research to determine if similar organizations already exist. An online search for the presence of a cause-specific advocacy group in your geographic location will help you to locate the names, contact information and scope of already existing organizations.
    • Contact local organizations to learn more. Speak to administrators of existing advocacy groups to find out if they are already performing the work you intend to do. You might decide to join their efforts or fulfill a need not met by their activities.
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    Find fellow organizers. Speak to your social network, professional colleagues, community leaders and others who are interested in helping you organize advocacy group activities.
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    Contact interested groups, individuals or organizations to find group attendees. If you are interested in improving the nutrition of school lunches, for example, reach out to other parents who want the same for their kids.
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    Decide on a meeting location. Contact community centers, libraries, churches and other organizations that might offer a free meeting spot. Remove all obstacles to meeting attendance by choosing a location that is centrally located and easily accessible with ample parking.
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    Choose a convenient meeting time. Take into account the schedules of your attendees. If you are targeting mothers of young children, for example, you might schedule your meetings while their children are in school.
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    Prepare informative materials to distribute in your meetings. Provide advocacy group members with a written description of the vision and objective of your group, along with handouts to further increase their knowledge about relevant issues.
    • Use technology to contact members and distribute information. Create a website for your advocacy group and email monthly newsletters to members.
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    Increase group membership by attending conferences and other events. Speak at events sponsored by like-minded organizations to generate interest in your group. Announce your meeting date and location at such events.
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    Explore funding options to cover any start-up costs.
    • Approach political officials in your jurisdiction. Inquire about available funds or legislation to increase funding for your specific cause.
    • Research private funding options. Contact private funding agencies to ask for funds or fundraising ideas.
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    Organize a day-long event. Expand your reach socially and politically by sponsoring a day-long conference.
    • Ask advocacy group supporters to spread the word about the event. Create fliers for group members to distribute around town and email to interested people.
    • Invite speakers and legislators to attend. Informative and inspirational talks by speakers who are intimately familiar with your cause will motivate others and increase awareness. Also contact the office of local politicians and legislators to invite them or their representatives to your event.

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Categories: Public Speaking