5340- u10 d1 engaged advocacy practice for leaders

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5340- U10 D1 Engaged Advocacy Practice for Leaders

Review the six stages of advocacy practice as outlined in your Developing
Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders textbook.

In your initial post, consider the application of these stages of advocacy practice
in the role of the community health worker as a change agent, or in the role of the
leader in the organization for which you developed a strategic plan in this course.
In addition, discuss how you see the stages of advocacy practice being used in
your agency or in an organization from your readings or in your community.
Explain why you think advocacy practice is important in policy or change
initiatives.

Note: 250 Words and 1 scholarly journal

153

INTRODUCTION

This chapter builds directly on the previous chapter, which dealt with persuasion.
Advocacy is a special case of persuasion, in that you are working to negotiate and per-
suade people in elected or appointed offices, rather than staff within your organization,
board members, clients, peers at other organizations, and other important people who are
in your environment. Everything covered in Chapter 13 applies directly to advocacy,
though we should consider advocacy a process that extends both before and after the
persuasion effort.

THE ROLE OF ADVOCACY FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

In an insightful analysis of the role of nonprofit organizations in welfare states, Ralph
Kramer (1981) indicated that being change agents “comes close to being a unique organi-
zational competence of the voluntary agency” (p. 231). According to the Commission on
Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (1975), also known as the Filer Commission, an
ambitious examination of the role of nonprofit organizations in the United States, “the
monitoring and influencing of government may be emerging as one of the single most
important and effective functions of the private nonprofit sector” (p. 45). These statements
from nearly 40 years ago may not have come entirely true, partially because nonprofit
managers have not been taught a systematic approach to advocacy that fits in with other
skills they have had the opportunities to develop. Yet, advocacy remains an important func-
tion of the nonprofit sector. Ruggiano and Taliaferro (2012) support this view, arguing that
lobbying is important for nonprofits to gain the resources they need to serve the public
good.

In addition to this view of nonprofit organizations being needed to voice important view-
points, advocacy by individuals is considered an ethical responsibility by some organizations’
codes of ethics. The National Association of Social Workers (2008), for example, states this
explicitly:

Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all
people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they
require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be
aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes
in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human
needs and promote social justice. (Section 6.04a)

14Advocacy

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
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154 LEADERSHIP SKILLS

THE SIX STAGES OF ADVOCACY PRACTICE

Hoefer (2012) defines advocacy practice as taking “action in a systematic and purposeful way
to defend, represent, or otherwise advance the cause of one or more clients at the individual,
group, organizational, or community level in order to promote social justice” (p. 3). He
describes the advocacy process as a form of the general problem-solving method used in social
work and other professions. Specifically, Hoefer describes six distinct stages in his unified
model of advocacy practice. Each will be covered briefly.

Stage 1: Getting involved. The idea of getting involved is simple: Are you going to put some
of your life into trying to make a difference in a particular area, or are you not? Large num-
bers of Americans are not involved in political efforts at all (not even voting), much less a
more difficult and time-consuming activity such as political advocacy.

Seven variables are seen as affecting the likelihood that a person will get involved with
advocacy (Hoefer, 2012). These are the person’s educational level, values, sense of professional
responsibility, interest, skills, level of participation in other organizations, and amount of free
time. No matter your current level on all of these variables, you can increase them to some
extent by consciously shaping your own environment to support growth on each variable.

Education: Get CEUs or other training relating to political advocacy.

Values: Shape organizational norms by hiring people with an activist orientation.

Sense of professional responsibility: Hire professional social workers.

Interest: Expose staff members to results of political decisions on clients.

Skills: Provide advocacy mentors to selected staff members.

Participation in other organizations: Assign staff members to work with coalitions.

Time: Allow flextime to assist staff members to attend meetings.

METHODS NONPROFITS CAN USE TO AFFECT “GETTING
INVOLVED” VARIABLES

Stage 2: Understanding the issue. Inexperienced advocates or people new to a specific policy
arena often want to move forward quickly without taking the time to understand fully the
issue(s) at hand. In particular, there is a temptation to try to understand the issue from only
your own side without trying to research and appraise any other approach or perspective.
Moving forward without truly understanding the issue from at least two perspectives is a
mistake and may doom your advocacy effort from the start.

Hoefer (2012) lists five steps in understanding an issue. First, advocates must define the
issue so that they can talk confidently within a particular frame of reference about the impacts
of a problem on a particular group of people (see Chapter 13 for the discussion on persuasion
frames, such as “it isn’t fair” or “after what they’ve been through, they deserve this”). Without
completing this step, there is a danger you will adopt the frame someone else has set forth
rather than developing a clear sense of how you view the situation.

The second step is to decide who is affected by the issue, and how. If there is a problem,
then the issue is hurting someone or a larger group of people. But it is also vital to under-
stand who is being helped by the current situation—is it helping someone make money, or
does it support the current emotional needs of a powerful person or group of people? Is the
situation just “tradition” that has not been examined for some time? The third step is to
decide what the main causes of the issue are. It may be impossible to determine what the

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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Advocacy 155

ultimate cause is, but if you can determine what is causing the issue, at least at the proximate
(immediate) level, it is far easier to solve the issue.

Fourth, you need to generate solutions to the issue, at least to the immediate problem. It is
tempting to take the first plausible solution you come up with, but you should generate (at
least) several potential solutions to have a wider variety of choices, some of which may be
easier to adopt than others. You can look to other cities, states, and countries for ideas, or
generate additional potential solutions on your own through techniques such as brainstorming.

Brainstorming: A process of generating ideas without evaluating them right away. Save
evaluation until after a set time period for idea generation is completed.

George Costanza approach: Think of how things are done now, and imagine what “doing
the opposite” would be. What benefits might ensue from doing things “oppositely”?

Win-win approach: Create an alternative policy that restructures the current situation. A
set of prompts and questions can be used to generate ideas.

Source: Hoefer (2012, pp. 73–75).

METHODS FOR DEVELOPING ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

The fifth step in understanding the issue is to review all of the proposed solutions to esti-
mate their impact on the problem and on social justice more broadly. Each advocacy effort
requires a thoughtful decision about which solution or solutions to pursue. The ones you
choose may be of different priorities, and you may trade off achieving one for having a better
one enacted. Sometimes you may have to accept an easy-to-pass bill when you’d rather have
a law that has a greater chance of impacting the problem.

Stage 3: Planning. Just as it is easy to want to try to solve a problem without taking the time
to understand it fully, it is also easy to want to jump into action before planning adequately.
Hoefer (2012) uses the analogy of using a map of getting from one place to another to plan-
ning in advocacy, which is laying out how to get from here (the current state of affairs) to
there (a different and better state of affairs). Advocates can use various methods to lay out
the steps in their plan, but it is important to relate the actions you take to the outcomes you
want to achieve. You need to choose the precise goals and objectives of your advocacy. You
also want to select an appropriate target—if you try to change Medicaid funding formulas
at the local level, for example, you’ll find your concerns can’t be addressed at that level—it
is a problem for the federal and state governments to address. Before you can advocate with
your targets, you need to know who they are. Getting information about legislators and their
staff members is not difficult. Elected officials almost all have websites where you can learn
what their interests and positions are on issues. You can also discover their contact informa-
tion such as office address, phone number, and e-mail address.

Your advocacy plan should also include a timeline for action, perhaps tied to other stake-
holders’ schedules. For example, if you wait until after the legislative session is over to advo-
cate, you may seriously delay achieving the policy change you want. Planning does not take
place on its own—all the steps up to now must be completed, and the information must then
be used in the planning stage. Good planning takes the information from before it and makes
it possible to apply a clear set of feasible steps in the future.

Stage 4: Advocating. This is the stage where you actually contact decision makers. Using
your skills in persuading (as discussed in Chapter 13), you make your best efforts to have
your target adopt (to the greatest extent possible) the ideas, plans, and positions that you
put forward. You have your desire to be involved and you have your plan, based on your

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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156 LEADERSHIP SKILLS

understanding of the issue. Advocating is simply the stage to put your plan into action. You
may not have considered everything that you could have, and your plan may not be work-
ing as well as you thought it would. Then, of course, you may need to adapt your plan to
better fit the changing realities before you. It is much better to adjust your advocacy plan
and tactics than to abandon your values and goals.

Stage 5: Evaluating. Once your advocacy effort is completed, it is time to take stock of the
results you achieved, and the costs that you paid to achieve those results. It is rare when you
achieve everything you started out wanting. Other participants in the policy process will
want their views adopted, and your persuasion efforts may not have been fully effective. It
becomes vital to judge exactly what you achieved compared to what you planned to accom-
plish—is it close to three-fourths of what you wanted? More like half? Even less than half?
This is an important part of your evaluation but not the entire evaluation. (This should
sound similar to the material in Chapter 7 relating to outcome evaluation.)

You also need to compare what you did with what you planned to do—were you (or your
group) able to meet as often as you desired with key decision makers? Were you able to round
up the number of volunteers needed to make calls or write letters? If the answers are no, you’ll
want to examine the reasons why you weren’t able to do so. If the answers are yes, you’ll want
to document what you did so that you’ll also be able to do it again in the next advocacy effort.
(In Chapter 7, we covered the idea of fidelity assessment, which is important in advocacy
evaluation as well.)

The final element of the evaluation is to link your actions and your achievements. It may
be you didn’t do as many of your actions as you thought you would need to. If this is so,
then you likely didn’t achieve as much as you thought you would. But it may be that you
did everything you planned to do and still didn’t achieve all that you desired. In your eval-
uation, you’ll want to analyze what happened and why you weren’t as successful as you
thought you would be. What lessons can you develop to improve the results from future
advocacy?

Beyond the immediate results of your advocacy effort, you will want to examine the con-
text of the policy debate. It may be you didn’t get the exact policy you were working for, but
you may be changing the terms of the debate (the frame used to discuss the issue). If you find
key actors starting to use the same language you use when describing the problem, the pop-
ulation affected, or the policy options, you are winning many small victories that should be
celebrated, remembered, and built on for the next time the issue is raised.

Stage 6: Monitoring. The final stage of advocacy practice is that of ongoing monitoring. You
need to pay attention to the way any programs you supported are actually being run.
Regulations determine much of what program staff members can do, so you will want to
pay attention to the way these are written. You may find that you lose much of the gains you
believed you had won if others control the way the rules are written. You also need to attend
to the budgeting process to ensure that any new provisions you supported have enough
resources to do what they are supposed to do. A program that is not given sufficient funds
to run itself will be crippled and ineffective, thus leading to charges in the future that it
should be eliminated.

Monitoring by advocates almost always takes place within the executive branch, not the
legislative branch. The executive branch operates in significantly different ways than does the
legislative, and skilled advocates will need to be aware that this is true. Legislators, for exam-
ple, are used to being lobbied by constituents and interest groups. This is less true of people
working in the executive branch who are selected primarily for their specialist expertise and
are not lobbied often in the same way that lawmakers are. Another important difference is
that legislators and their staff members are well known to advocates because they have cho-
sen to be in the spotlight. Executive branch employees, however, are much more likely to be
fairly anonymous, working far from the public eye. It may be more difficult just to find out
who to contact.

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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Advocacy 157

RECENT EMPIRICAL RESEARCH

Recent years have brought a number of research studies that provide nonprofit managers
with empirical information to be better advocates. The research indicates that policy-relevant
information and research results are important when lobbying. Giesler, Parris, Weaver, Hall,
and Sullivan (2012) studied how local level policy makers are influenced in their decision
making. Decision makers at this level use “social service agency reports, social service agency
staff consultation, and other [decision-makers’] opinions” (p. 236). At the state level, in Texas,
research was seen as very important to legislators when voting on human service issues
(Cochran, Montgomery, & Rubin, 2010). This insight regarding research is strengthened by
a study examining conservative think tanks at the national level, even if the “research” is of
poor quality and ideologically biased (Miller-Cribbs, Cagle, Natale, & Cummings, 2010).

Two state-level comparative policy studies have very similar results as to what variables
shape particular policies. Lee and Donlan (2009) found that Democratic political party con-
trol leads to higher expenditures for Medicaid; Hoefer, Black, and Salehin’s (2012) results
show that Democratic Party control is the primary determinant of strong teen dating violence
prevention policy. This indicates that advocates in favor of stronger human service legislation
may wish to help ensure that candidates from the Democratic Party are elected. Conversely,
people who have another viewpoint may wish to work to elect Republican Party officials.

SUMMARY

While this is only a quick overview of the advocacy process that nonprofit leaders can use,
you can see how the steps of this approach fit in well with the general problem-solving
approach that emphasizes assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation of intervention.
In addition, you must decide to get involved to begin with and you must keep monitoring the
situation to determine if the problem is improving, getting worse, or staying the same once
some new proposal is adopted, or if nothing is done. Additional information regarding empir-
ically supported ways to be effective in your advocacy efforts is also presented to provide
more specifics for new and experienced advocates. Persuasive techniques (information cov-
ered in Chapter 13) need to be recalled as you plan and conduct your advocacy efforts.

REFERENCES

Cochran, G., Montgomery, K., & Rubin, A. (2010). Does evidence-based practice influence state legis-
lators’ decision-making process? An exploratory process. Journal of Policy Practice, 9(3–4), 263–283.

Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs. (1975). Giving in America: Toward a stronger
voluntary sector. Washington, DC: Author.

Giesler, F., Parris, A., Weaver, L., Hall, L., & Sullivan, Q. (2012). Sources of information that influence
social service public policy decisions. Journal of Policy Practice, 11(4), 236–254.

Hoefer, R. (2012). Advocacy practice for social justice (2nd ed.). Chicago: Lyceum Press.
Hoefer, R., Black, B., & Salehin, M. (2012). Making the grade: Correlates of dating violence policies.

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 39(4), 9–24.
Kramer, R. (1981). Voluntary agencies in the welfare state. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lee, J., & Donlan, W. (2009). Cultural, social and political influences on state-level indigent health care

policy formation. Journal of Policy Practice, 8(2), 129–146.
Miller-Cribbs, J., Cagle, B., Natale, A., & Cummings, Z. (2010). Thinking about think tanks: Strategies

for progressive social work. Journal of Policy Practice, 9(3–4), 284–307.
National Association of Social Workers. (2008). Code of ethics. Washington, DC. Author. Retrieved

from http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp
Ruggiano, N., & Taliaferro, J. D. (2012). Resource dependency and agent theories: A framework for

exploring nonprofit leaders’ resistance to lobbying. Journal of Policy Practice, 11(4), 219–235.

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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158 LEADERSHIP SKILLS

HELPFUL TERMS

Advocacy practice—taking action in a systematic and purposeful way to defend, represent,
or otherwise advance the cause of one or more clients at the individual, group, organiza-
tional, or community level in order to promote social justice.

Executive branch—The executive branch interprets and implements the laws developed by
the legislative branch. This is true at the national, state, and local levels. (See also Legislative
branch.)

Legislative branch—The legislative branch passes bills that may then be signed into law by
the chief executive. These are then interpreted and implemented by the executive branch.
This is true at the national and state levels. Local governments also have legislative bodies,
although chief executives at that level operate somewhat differently than at the national and
state levels. (See also Executive branch.)

Proximate cause (of a problem)—the immediate identifiable cause of a current problem.
Focusing on the proximate cause can give advocates something to work on, even if it isn’t
the “true” cause in some philosophical sense. (See also Ultimate cause.)

Target—the individual or group that can make the authoritative decision that you desire.

Ultimate cause (of a problem)—the root cause of a current problem that may extend back
in time and across political boundaries. It is the “true” cause of the problem but may be
intractable and impossible to impact. Focusing on ultimate causes can quickly lead to demor-
alization. (See also Proximate cause.)

EXERCISES

1. In-Basket Exercise

Directions

For this in-basket exercise, personalize your response by finding legislators for your location.
Use any human services agency you desire for Question 2c and Question 3. Be as realistic as
possible when considering who should be the targets of your advocacy.

Memo

Date: September 6, 20XX

From: Kenyonne Hightower, Chair of Board

To: Samantha Velasquez, Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator

Subject: Beginning Steps for New Advocacy Efforts

It is becoming clear to us on the board that we need to become involved in the realm of
educating our legislators about our organization’s needs. Unfortunately, we have very little
idea about how to begin. This is where your expertise comes in.

We believe that the first step is to get to know more about our legislators. We would like
you to write up the following information:

1. Search for information on the following four people: our U.S. senator, our U.S. house
representative, our state senator, and our state house representative.

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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Advocacy 159

2. For each of these four elected officials, get this information:

a. The committees they serve on
b. Their office location, phone number to speak to an aide, and an e-mail address to

communicate with them
c. Their position on one issue related to our agency’s mission

3. Of these four legislators, which one do you think is the one we should start building
a relationship with first? Why?

2. What’s in a Name?

Discuss with one or two other people what your perceptions of lobbying and advocacy are.
Would you want to tell new acquaintances that you are a “lobbyist”? Would it sound better
if you indicated your job is to influence elected officials? Why or why not? How would you
like talking about your position if it were called “social justice champion”?

3. Social Media and Advocacy

While this chapter doesn’t address the ways to use social media in an advocacy campaign,
brainstorm with colleagues how you could use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, or other
social media outlets in an advocacy effort.

4. Give It a Try

Search the web for an advocacy organization or interest group that has views you agree with.
Look on its website for information about advocacy and how you can be involved in their
issue. Select one of their suggestions (don’t choose “donate money”!) and tell your colleagues
or classmates which one you have chosen to do. Within one week, complete this self-chosen
task. Discuss what you did and how you feel about your effort with the colleagues or class-
mates you declared your intentions to.

ASSIGNMENTS

1. The seven variables related to getting involved with advocacy are the person’s educa-
tional level, values, sense of professional responsibility, interest, skills, level of partici-
pation in other organizations, and amount of free time (Hoefer, 2012). Give yourself
a grade from A to F on each variable. Discuss why you think this is so. Create a plan
to improve each area where you have a grade of B or less.

2. Choose a human services issue that is of interest to you. Write a one- to two-page
letter that you can send to a legislator that presents your ideas on this issue. Review
your letter in light of the information on persuasion discussed in an earlier chapter.
Send it.

3. Select an existing human services program. Find information on how its budget has
changed over the past five years. Relate this to the change in need for the program.
Write a short paper (two to three pages) summarizing the information and whether
you believe the budget has been adequate or not. If you feel particularly passionate
about this topic (or for extra credit, if your instructor agrees), schedule an appoint-
ment with an appropriate target to explain why you believe the budget needs to be
increased, decreased, or remain the same.

Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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Watson, Larry D. (Dan), and Richard A. Hoefer. Developing Nonprofit and Human Service Leaders : Essential Knowledge and Skills, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, 2013. ProQuest
Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/capella/detail.action?docID=1921122.
Created from capella on 2023-03-14 21:19:02.

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