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Advocacy & Civic Engagement is more than politics. Whether you are engaging parents of the youth you serve or working with community members about street design in their neighborhoods, advocacy should be a priority for any community organization. Civic engagement empowers organizations to affect change at the individual, community, and societal levels.
Nonprofits provide an important vehicle through which individuals organization and work together to improve their communities. Nonprofits should represent the interests of the people they serve through public education and public policy advocacy, as well as by encouraging board members, staff, volunteers, and constituents to participate in the public affairs of the community. Knowing how to accomplish this is essential for any nonprofit. Today’s legislative policy changes can empower organizations or mean drastic cut-backs. How does your organization engage in the political process and create the change you need to see in the world?
Completion of this course and its workshop will deliver a strategy to for you to follow to engage the community and impact legislation. This training course covers these topics and skills:
- Develop an advocacy plan for your organization.
- Create a public narrative as a call to action.
- Identify potential intersections of your organizations’ mission with key policies, departments, committees and elected officials.
- Find out how to tap into Utah’s 150,000+ college students as part of their curricular and co-curricular experiences.
Facilitated by Sean Crossland
In order to receive the Advocacy & Civic Engagement Achievement Badge, the organization must submit the following items to UNA to be reviewed:
Public narrative—Provide 2-3 samples of public narratives used by the organization and its advocates. Examples of content for public narratives include: why individual leaders/advocates are involved in the cause, why community members should care about the cause, what urgent challenges within the community require actions and how individuals can become involved.
Theory of change—Document how your mission, vision and values articulate the change you are seeking to bring about and designate your focus on individual change theory (direct service impact), systems change theory (cumulative impact) or both. Include these items:
1. Measuring change—Document or provide templates used to measure the impact your organization is having on the change it is seeking to bring about.
2. Communication channels—Document your organization’s use of diverse communication channels to amplify important messaging for the organization and advance advocacy efforts. Include a description of who is responsible for such messaging and how partnerships with communications sources are cultivated.
3. Intersecting interests—If your organization works with elected officials, list or document local, state, and national policies, departments, committees, task forces and elected officials that intersect with your organization’s mission. Document how relationships or interactions are developed and cultivated with these entities.
Advocacy plan—If your organization has an advocacy program, provide a copy of your organization’s advocacy plan, including a definition of success and an assignment of duties. Include revision or version date. Include these items:
1.Tangible benefits—Document how you have translated a policy change into tangible benefits for constituents. Examples may include: educating the public on the policy change or working with constituents to understand and benefit from the policy change.
2. Credibility—If your organization works with policy makers, explain how your organization is working to be deemed influential and credible by policymakers. Examples of this may include: presence and participation in key policy meetings, distribution of information on topics of which the organization is a subject matter expert, ability to gather a critical mass of individuals willing to testify, write to legislators, gather at the Hill, gain media attention and the like.
3. Influence—Define what success in the area of influence and credibility looks like. Examples of this may include: appointment to task force or committee, contact from policymakers prior to vote on bills impacting your population, regular meetings with policymakers, inclusion in drafting of policy proposals and the like
Intersecting interests (regarding Advocacy)—If your organization works with elected officials, list or document local, state, and national policies, departments, committees, task forces and elected officials that intersect with your organization’s mission. Document how relationships or interactions are developed and cultivated with these entities.
4. Policy change—Provide an example of a policy change the organization has brought about, is in the process of affecting or has plans to implement. Document the plan for bringing about the change, including: key partners and stakeholders, collaboration with elected officials, messaging activities and fostering public support.
Educational partnerships— If your organization has partnerships with educational institutions, provide a copy of a contract, memorandum of understanding or other formalized document between your organization and a relevant higher education institution documenting a reciprocal partnership. Include revision or version date. Also include,
1. Service-Learning—If your organization has a service-learning program, document the recruitment and integration of student service-learning participants into your organization. Describe the type of projects students complete, how they are supervised and how their contributions are relayed back to their higher education institutions.
NOTE: The documentation on the requirements requesting explanation need not be lengthy. Clear, concise statements on how the organization meets the requirement listed are sufficient. In most cases, three or four lines of description should suffice.
Sean Crossland currently serves as the Assistant Director at Thayne Center for Service & Learning at Salt Lake Community College. He obtained his BA in Psychology from Iowa Wesleyan College, his MA in Community Leadership from Westminster College, and completed the Leadership, Organizing, and Action Program from the Harvard Kennedy Executive School. Sean is currently pursuing his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. He has worked in or with the nonprofit sector for the nonprofit sector for 15 years, including several years as a counselor in a wilderness therapy program for at-risk youth. Sean is driven to engage people in their immediate community, and to connect passion with action. ePortfolio: https://slcc.digication.com/sean_crossland/Home/