Advocacy: Getting Started

Trustees and Friends should work with library management to define the goal you are working toward. It can be a change in local legislation, the passage of a library bond issue or referendum, a campaign to increase the library's operating budget, even a campaign to ward off a potential budget cut. One advocacy goal per year is a realistic target.

Determine when your goal must be accomplished and develop a timeline for implementation that will culminate at the point where it will have the best effect.

Develop a clear, specific strategy with limited, easily understood objectives for advocacy and ensure they are strategically placed on the timeline. Identify the number of volunteers and resources that will be needed for the accomplishment of each objective.

Get as many volunteers on board with the campaign as possible - the wider the reach, the more likely you'll be to have a positive outcome. Be sure each volunteer understands his or her task and be sure they have the resources needed to accomplish it. Set a deadline and follow-up!

Find ways to communicate your story. Form a communications task force to work with the local media. Develop a one-page fact sheet as a hand-out. For a very large campaign with a lot at stake, you might want to hire a professional public relations firm to help highlight the campaign. If you can't afford to hire professional assistance, don't hesitate to ask for pro bono help.

For additional tips check out Fact Sheet # 13: Checklist for Advocacy. United for Libraries personal and group members can also access Making Our Voices Heard: Citizens Speak Out for Libraries, a CD-rom and workbook on public awareness and advocacy.