Topic outline

  • NCDA: Building Your Advocacy Skills

    What's this course about?
    National Community Development Association members rely on the partnership between federal, state and local governments to meet the housing needs of low-income individuals. At the federal level, this translates to a commitment to programs like the Community Development Block Grant and the HOME program. To keep that partnership strong, we must let policymakers know how important these services are to the people they represent. This course is designed to help you become a more effective advocate in Washington DC -- and beyond!

    In this course you'll learn the four keys to effective advocacy, specifically knowing what you want, who you're talking to, how to talk to them and how to follow up.

  • The Four Keys

    There are four keys to effective advocacy; knowing what you want; who you're talking to; how to talk to them; and, how to follow up.

    • What Advocates Need to Know About Government

      "I'm just a bill, just a lonely old bill..." Chances are, if you were alive during the 1970's and 1980's, you heard some version of "School House Rock." You know -- the one where the singing bill talks about the legislative process? To be an effective advocate, you'll need to know a little more about a government than that. But don't worry! You don't have to be an expert. You just need to know enough to talk to the right people about the right things at the right time.

    • Knowing What You Want

      Only when you know your specific goal can you be sure that you’re talking to the right audience. Plus, they need to know what you want them to do!

      Note: While this section refers to Capitol Hill meetings, the principle of "know what you want" can be applied to any advocacy situation

    • Who You're Talking To

      Understanding what gets your audience up in the morning, and what keeps them up at night, dramatically increases your effectiveness.

    • How to Develop & Deliver Your Story

      You must have your daily acronym in DC. Today's is "SPIT", which stands for Specific, Personal, Informative, and Timely.

      The Message Formula
      Once you've figured out what you want, learned about your audience, and developed your story, now it's time to figure out how to fit all of this into a short communication. The Message Formula should help. This is in the context of a meeting, but can be used as a template for e-mails and phone calls as well.

    • Effective E-mails and Phone Calls

      Should you call, e-mail, or seek a meeting with policymakers? The very first thing you should know is that what you say to policymakers is far more important than how you say it. Assuming that you have developed a compelling, thoughtful, truthful and positive message, you are likely to at least be listened to -- and hopefully have an impact -- however you choose to deliver the message. The overall key for any communication is that it be personalized and relevant.

    • Making Connections at Home & Creating Your Plan

      Following Up
      All the advocacy in the world won't do much good if you're not following up! In this section, you'll learn about site visits, as well as other strategies for follow-up. Use these materials to build your advocacy plans throughout the year.