What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is the utilization of resources to influence public decisions.
Advocacy involves action. The person doing the action is called an "advocate". The following list of key action statements give an idea of how broad advocacy can be.
- Advocates may represent themselves or a group.
- Advocates listen to others to be better informed.
- Advocates gather and share reliable information related to issues or goals.
- Advocates sell their point of view to others.
- Advocates mediate between individuals and groups to achieve mutually beneficial change.
- Advocates build coalitions to gain wider support for a particular idea or course of action.
Senior Advocacy that Works
Successful advocacy on behalf of older adults often has some of the following components:
- It uses information and research in a timely fashion;
- It targets the appropriate individual or group that can bring about the desired change;
- It creates strengths and cohesiveness among diverse senior groups in a community that may become effective, articulate spokespersons;
- It understands the community and maintains its perspective about what it is trying to achieve;
- It plans activities to involve the greatest number of people possible to achieve the greatest impact; and;
- It raises the consciousness and understanding of participants and the general public about the issues involved.
There are many ways to be an advocate
You can be an advocate on behalf of yourself. You can also be an advocate for another individual, or a group of individuals. The group can be residents of a certain area. Or it can be a class of people, such as all people over the age of 60. You can be an advocate for an existing organized group, such as a charity or civic organization.
You can also be an advocate for the public interest. In this case, for example, you may present a point view before the state legislature or a Governor's planning task force.
Some people feel reluctant to assume the role of an advocate. They may be understandably nervous about stepping forward to take on the responsibility. They may feel more comfortable simply "helping" people.
Sometimes the situation is complex, and those involved are confused about how to proceed to get their point of view across and obtain change. They may not be sure exactly what change they should propose. Maybe they have never fought city hall before, and wonder if it is possible to make a difference.
Too often, however, the reluctance to be an advocate is based on the fact that people may not feel they have the right to be heard. They have simply never thought of themselves as someone who could testify or mediate a dispute or represent their group before a board of commission.
You will be surprised just how much you can do, once you get started. And you will find that there are a lot of people just like you that hold similar ideas. You will discover that you have more resources to create change than you at first believed.