5Days4Democracy: Advocacy

Welcome to day 4 of City Club Cleveland’s 5 Days For Democracy! I hope you’ve been enjoying the great content shared and have hopefully learned something new along the way. Today, as we welcome October, we celebrate advocacy!

What is advocacy? Advocacy is most simply defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. Read more about what advocacy means and the different types of advocacy (community advocacy vs. legal advocacy) in this article from the Philanthropy Journal. You may wonder- how is advocacy different from lobbying? Well, lobbying is a type of advocacy in which you advocate for a or against a specific legislation, but not all advocacy means lobbying!

What activities comprise advocacy work? There are *so many* ways that Americans of all ages can get involved in work to support their beliefs and views. Here are a few examples of advocacy work:

  • Organize: Organize a meeting or rally with others who share your views to mobilize for change! This could be coffee with your neighbors over Zoom, it doesn’t need to be a big meeting to make big change.
  • Educate Legislators: Provide information to legislators on issues you care about. Many non-profits help you to advocate by providing fact sheets or scripts to use when reaching out to legislators. Not sure who represents you? Find out using Ballotpedia.org here.
  • Research: We librarians know the importance of research! Find relevant resources that exhibit your story. Check out this list of institutes and think tanks put together by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. Find legislation that affects you and track it’s progress in Congress here at GovTrack.us .
  • Nonpartisan Voter Education: Inform your community on the issues you care about and how to vote for change! Nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters can help you to become an advocate and get involved.
  • Lobby: As a member of the general public, you can advocate for or against specific legislation through grassroots lobbying efforts! It is citizen participation in government and a great way to make your voice heard.

Feeling like you are already working hard as an advocate? The Ohio ACLU shared this list of useful tips on how to become a better advocate, including the importance of challenging our own biases when we look to become an advocate for others. The ACLU is another great resource for those looking to get involved, and you can check out the Ohio ACLU’s advocacy page here .

It might seem more challenging to be an advocate now amidst the pandemic, but according to the Institute for Free Speech, “Even when we’re stuck at home, the groups we join to support shared causes continue to give us a voice in Washington and our state capitals.” thanks in a large part to online advocacy! Use social media to organize virtual letter writing campaigns with friends or use Twitter to engage with public officials. You don’t need to leave your house to be an awesome advocate.

Image from the Institute for Free Speech.

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