WAYS TO LEND YOUR VOICE
Advocacy is the process of exercising our individual or collective power to influence policy and policymakers. To create lasting change, people can use their voices in a multitude of ways, some of which are straightforward while others require more effort.
Become a reliable source of information. Get educated about the issues you care about. Learn about the legislative process and how the work of policymakers impacts your issues. Find out who is supporting or opposing your position and why. Contact the Budget and Tax Center if you need help gathering information about fiscal issues and the economy in your community.
Call your elected official to bring attention to your issue or concern. Before you call, consider what you would like to convey and how you can express it concisely. Expect to talk to a staff member, but don’t worry – this does not limit the effectiveness of your call. In fact, it’s important to get to know the staff members of your elected officials. They serve as advisors to the policymakers and can highlight your concern and the need for change.
Visit your local policymaker. You can visit a policymaker in their office in the capitol or within your district during the off-session. Be sure to schedule an appointment first. Establish your talking points ahead of time, and be sure that you are respectful in all that you say and do. Remember to always say thank you (even if it’s just for them making time to meet with you). Acknowledging a policymaker’s efforts is a critical step in creating a lasting relationship.
Write a personal letter or e-mail to your policymaker. Be sure to be specific about your concern and include a statistic or two about your issue, if possible. Never use a threatening tone. If sending a letter to a U.S. Senator or Congressman, do not use regular mail; use a fax number or email address.
Invite your local elected official to visit your organization. Give them a tour of your facility to help them understand the impact their decisions have on the work you do and those you serve. When possible, arrange for one of the clients you serve to be present to provide an even more impactful experience.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. While every letter may not be published, editors pay attention to well-written letters. This is especially true when there are many letters written on the same topic. Published letters do influence elected officials.
Share your story. Was your child’s school impacted by budget cuts? Has your community been left behind in the economic recovery? Now more than ever is the time to provide examples of how public policy can help or hurt economic development and prosperity for everyone. Email or call the Budget and Tax Center to share your story about how fiscal policy decisions have impacted you, your family and your community.
Host a community conversation. There are lots of issues you may want to discuss: how does poverty impact your community and what are potential ways to alleviate poverty; what does your community need in order to build more prosperity and economic opportunity for all; how do the state budget and tax code influence your local community. Provide education around the issues you choose to highlight and opportunities for action in order to engage others in the issue you care about (i.e. organize a local LTE writers guild or a letter writing campaign to a policy maker).
HOW CAN I FIND HELP IN MY LOCAL COMMUNITY?
No matter where you live in North Carolina, you can dial 2-1-1 and find information about resources in your local community. Whether you need help finding food or housing, child care and education services, crisis counseling or substance abuse treatment, one number is all you need to know.
2-1-1 is free, confidential, multi-lingual and available 24/7/365. Call or click (www.nc211.org) and be connected to the resources you need.
For community planners, 2-1-1 offers an analysis of local needs versus available services to help determine gaps in services and to direct local investments where they are needed most.
How can I learn more about policy issues?
The Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI) is a national, nonprofit organization that helps charitable organizations increase their effectiveness and impact through advocacy.
Data & Information
NC Justice Center | county economic data
Kids Count Data Center
National Equity Atlas
US Census Bureau
National League of Cities
National Conference of State Legislatures
National Institute of Mental Health
National Center for Health Statistics
US Department of Health and Human Services
US Department of Labor
US Bureau of Labor Statistics