Conducting Grassroots Advocacy for

By Judy Harrison,2014-12-05 06:29
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Conducting Grassroots Advocacy for

    “Bringing Advocacy Home”: A Local Grassroots/tops

    Mobilizing Menu for Supportive Housing Stakeholders

    Here are some simple strategies for advocating locally on federal policy issues affecting supportive housing:

1. Schedule a visit with your representative’s staff at his/her local office at any time,

    or with the representative him/herself when he/she is in the home district/state.

Effective federal advocacy campaigns

     1Other handouts from CSH you might find helpful:

; The Structure of Congressional Offices lays out the typical staffing patterns and

    responsibilities for both the DC and local offices that Representatives and Senators


; 10 Steps to an Effective Lobby Visit explains how to execute a lobby visit from

    preparation through follow through.

; Where feasible, CSH maintains up-to-date Talking Points on high priority federal

    policy issues.

    2. Get other groups involved in the issue, especially “grasstops” that you know

    have the ear of the target.

    The more local constituents a target and his staff sees on an issue, the better! Strategize especially around how to mobilize local ―grasstops‖ – organizations and individuals that

    are seen within the community, and by the target, as opinion leadersto join in

    advocating on your issue. Examples include the local housing authority, chamber of commerce, United Way, city economic development agency, churches, prominent local individual businesses and banks, and law firms (especially if they do pro bono work in the housing/homelessness area). It’s worth implementing medium and long-term

    strategies for building relationships with these grasstopsthese relationships can pay off

    in other venues as well. Ultimately, you want them to attend meetings with you and write letters of support, (tip: give them a copy of the letter you wrote as an example, or, better yet, find out if they would prefer you to draft something for their review and signature.)

    3. Invite the Congressman/woman to your organization for a tour of supportive


    We all know that supportive housing projects and their tenants speak eloquently for

    themselves. And rare is the Congressional representative who does not want to know

    about great work that is being done in his/her home district or state (especially if there

     1 All CSH advocacy handouts can be obtained either from our website (under the Take

    Action button) or from Jenice Jones-Kibby at, Buck Bagot at, or Jonathan

    is some credit to be claimed and a good photo op to be had). While there are many

    tips and assistance that the Policy Unit and others at CSH National can offer around

    planning and executing a site visit, here are just a couple points to consider:

    ; Plan the event!

    While supportive housing and its residents are the interventions best spokespeople,

    productive site visits don’t just happen.

    ; Think about whether you want to capitalize on the site visit as a media outreach

    opportunity (more on media below)

    Politicians love photo opportunities!! The target may have a press secretary who

    will handle press coverage and photography for him or her. You should also have

    and use a press release related to the event.

    ; Make sure that the target and/or his staff understands the direct connection

    between success on your federal policy issue(s) and the great outcomes they are


    While any site visit is likely to strengthen your relationship with the target, the

    most effective tours result in the Member and his/her staff walking away with

    more than a happy feeling about a pretty building and some heartwarming stories.

    Rather, a first-class advocacy-focused tour makes the target realize that the

    ongoing success of the project he/she just sawand the likelihood that his/her

    community will be able to develop more such projectsdepends on his/her

    ―championing‖ of a particular policy.

Other handouts from CSH you might find helpful:

    ; Telling Our Stories is designed to help supportive housing tenants, providers, and

    others ensure that their compelling stories have maximum impact on policymakers.

    4. Generate media coverage of your issue in local papers, television, and on the


    Newspaper coverage can range from human interest stories to letter to the editor, Op-eds, and editorials directly on the issue in question. The extent of the coverage you can generate will depend on your existing relationship with newspaper staff and the other competing events/issues of the day.

    Television coverage is generally limited to human interest stories, with the exception of local public television and cable channels.

    Internet coverage is an area which CSH is only beginning to explore. We are interested in local stakeholders’ experiences with this medium.

Other handouts from CSH you might find helpful:

    ; Tips on Media Outreach offers ―Dos‖ and ―Don’ts‖ around seeking various kinds of

    media coverage to move your advocacy agenda

5. Plan a “speak out” or other accountability event with the target.

    Speak-outs or accountability sessions can both inform and public pressure elected

    officials of the concerns of particular constituent groups. Such events can range in

    size from 5-10 people to more than 200 (with corresponding increases in the

    complexity of execution!). Note: Because of their public nature, speak outs can

    make a target feel ―cornered,‖ an outcome that may be precisely the desired effect,

    but can also have negative ramifications; therefore, such events should be carefully

    considered and planned.

Other CSH handouts from CSH you might find helpful

; Planning and Executing a Grassroots Federal Policy ―Speak Out‖ provides detailed

    tips on organizing a grassroots accountability event.

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