General Session

Friday, August 3, 2018


How do you turn an advocate into a champion? No need to guess, just ask one (over pancakes)! Three leading practitioners invite their best local champions to share what motivates them to action and how their respective organizations keep them engaged and wanting to do more.

Notes from session:

How to build a successful ambassador program.

  • Emphasize training: Building your own advocacy academy.
  • Collect data: Benchmarking activities will yield important data (for example: to indicate active/ inactive regions) that can impact how you allocate your resources and where you need to focus your training.
  • Engage interested parties: Are advocates self-identifying as such? This is a good indicator that they want to be brought up the ladder of engagement.
  • People first: These are citizens, not wonks, with their own interests and demands on their time.

Challenges your program should address.

  • Who are your leaders and what do they need to stay engaged?
  • Where do we have strategic advocacy gaps and what can we do to build their advocacy capacity?
  • How can we help our networks advocacy programs grow through resources and training?

Communication between the organization and champion.

  • Start with a welcome packet- then keep mailings to a minimum (or try allowing them to order print materials as needed through you or your organization’s website)
  • Your organization is the source of direction, training, and priorities
  • You empower your advocates to intelligently discuss your issues
  • Focus on building trust between teams and leveraging authenticity
  • Have your champion build their own team of interested parties to train and deploy
  • Systematize reporting back to DC on a quarterly basis and flags for organization followup

Maintaining momentum year-round.

  • Get buy-in to SMART goals at the beginning of each year
  • Encourage interaction among advocate groups
  • Build-in regular touchpoints
  • Offer an intranet with resources only you can provide
  • Keep trainings frequent, fresh, digital, and accessible
  • Keep advocates apprised of regulatory and legislative movement with an online newsletter at a frequency you’re comfortable with

Profile of a Champion.

  • Does their face light up when you ask how they feel about advocacy? There you go!
  • Self-motivated on your issues with a degree of self-interest so they volunteer and are not ‘volun-told’
  • Ironically, it is the people who are the busiest who are more likely to throw themselves the issue
  • Curious, energetic, and well-spoken individuals