would ensure health care is for all,
particularly the most vulnerable
women and children.
Keep it simple
One of my favourite advocacy
quotes is from Chris Rose, a longtime U.K. campaigner. “All issues
are complex, but your campaign
must not be.” This does not mean
dumbing down your advocacy messaging, but it does mean making it
accessible and actionable. Rose
points out that the goal of a successful campaign is not to communicate
your issue. It is to get just three
things across – the problem, the
solution and the action needed now.
Keep it constructive
Advocacy is all about relationships
and constructive dialogue. We
wouldn’t expect to have a productive church meeting if we were
simply protesting and complaining.
We must bring respect and a solu-tions-oriented approach to our
conversations with decision makers, even when we don’t agree with
them. Our message to those in
power is the same as to those without power. We want you to be all
that God created you to be.
Mike Hogeterp, with the Christian Reformed Centre for Public
Dialogue ( www2.crcna.org), emphasizes the need to build relationships. “When citizens demonstrate
a deep commitment to an issue,
they are that much more likely to
receive the ear of a parliamentarian.
Be positive and persistent. Don’t
just sign off on the petition, but
follow it up with a letter or a phone
call to the constituency office.”
Go with your strengths
Once you know who you need to
influence, you may be surprised by
the gifts you can leverage in your
own congregation. Sometimes it is
personal connections, as in a con-
gregational member who knows
someone who can get you a key
meeting. Other times it is a physic-
al asset, like a building that can be
used to host conversations.
Your greatest strength is something the Church has in spades –
community. You likely have creative
people with a knack for getting
attention. Put those talents to good
use. You have a church communications network that can be mobilized quickly, and each member has
their own personal networks. And
if you have youth, they are both a
source of creative energy and, quite
often, a demographic whose attention decision makers often seek.
Advocacy is a force for good
Citizen advocacy is a healthy part
of a functioning society. When
Canadian Christians advocated for
the cancellation of debts in the
poorest countries through the Jubilee 2000 campaign, the minister of
finance at the time encouraged us
to keep the pressure up, saying that
public support was needed to get a
breakthrough. We did. Debts were
cancelled, and millions of children
continue to access schools and
health care as a result.
In Amahd’s case the local government officials were, in the end,
quite supportive of the mobilization effort. After all, they too
wanted to see health results improved and lives saved.
Advocacy – it’s in us to do
Advocacy might be underused because it seems foreign to our experience of church. Yet it is very
real for us as individual Christians.
If we’ve ever stood up for a child or
a sibling, or gone to bat for a friend
or a parent, we’ve been an advocate.
And we have all benefited from the
advocacy of others, not to mention
that of the Father, the greatest advocate of all (1 John 2:1). /FT
Doug Blackburn is the church advocacy
manager for World Vision Canada.
7 TIPS for online advocacy
Like “ 3 things you can do now to promote X” or
“ 5 things you may not know about Y.”
USE COMPELLING IMAGES
Use photos or graphics that immediately
illustrate your issue. Aim for an emotional
reaction (happiness and empathy are
HAVE A CLEAR CALL TO AC TION
Always include an action that furthers your
cause, even if it is just “like,” “comment” or
“share.” Tell readers what you want them to do.
CREATE A CURIOSI T Y GAP
You have a second to tease the reader’s curiosity.
Be creative in generating the urge to know more.
In World Vision’s child labour campaign, any
teaser about chocolate tends to increase our
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
What kind of online content do they like?
Ask yourself, Would I open that?
THINK NEW AUDIENCES
Websites and social media feeds are seen
outside your immediate community. Your church
engaged in advocacy on a current issue could be
of interest to people who are new to your church.
BALANCE URGENC Y WI TH HOPE
People need to hear a sense of urgency, that
their action is needed now. But they also
need hope – success stories, pictures of your
church in action, inspiration tied to their faith