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Shaping the Future: Critical Personal & Professional Advocacy Skills. Marlene S. Lobberecht, M.S., CFCS 2010-11 AAFCS Public Policy Committee Chair, 2009-11 TAFCS VP Public Policy. Marlene S. Lobberecht, CFCS.

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Shaping the Future: Critical Personal & Professional Advocacy Skills

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shaping the future critical personal professional advocacy skills

Shaping the Future:Critical Personal & Professional Advocacy Skills

Marlene S. Lobberecht, M.S., CFCS

2010-11 AAFCS Public Policy Committee Chair,

2009-11 TAFCS VP Public Policy

marlene s lobberecht cfcs
Marlene S. Lobberecht, CFCS
  • AAFCS Public Policy Committee Vice-Chair 2009-2010, Chair 2010-2011, & Past Chair 2011-2012
  • AAFCS Taking It to the Streets Leadership Team
  • TAFCS Vice President of Public Policy 2009-2011
  • LWV-TX Early Childhood Issue Chair
  • LWV-Houston BoD & Area Children’s Issues Chair
  • TAFCS 2006-07 Affiliate President
  • AAFCS 2003 Leader Award.
  • Texas FCS Teacher of the Year
  • eBook Author of Tips for Public Policy Involvement, 2011

FREE eBook & PPT:

  • Contact:

eBook Cover

why does it matter
Why does it matter?
  • Professional lobbyist

navigate Capital Offices,

  • Provide “perks”,
  • Suggest alternatives,
  • Visit perpetually,
  • Call staff by name,
  • Know legislator’s

personal priorities,

  • Forge relationships, &
  • Separate themselves from the issue.
use your voice vote
Use your Voice …Vote!


personal voice

is your power

at the

ballot box!

an effective advocate
An Effective Advocate
  • Identifies the issue or problem.
  • Determines who it takes to solve it & makes the decisions.
  • Understands the Congressional or Legislative rules & process.
  • Clues into how, when & why to communicate with decision-makers.
  • Sees a time frame for the decision to be made.
  • Considers who might effectively partner with you to join your message.
advocacy range
Advocacy Range
  • Broad range of activities with two specific terms defining efforts:
    • Public Education
    • Lobbying
  • Point is to differentiate between the two terms and to understand lobbying always involves advocacy, but advocacy does not necessarily involve lobbying.
advocacy public education
Advocacy-Public Education
  • Providing general information about a specific issue expressed to the general public or a legislator.
  • One form of advocacy with a very specific definition to:
    • Communicate with elected officials regarding a specific bill;
    • Urge a position on specific pending legislation; or
    • Send a “Call to Action” to colleagues urging them to call legislators.
  • 2 types: Direct & Grassroots Lobbying
federal irs technical regulations on lobbying by nonprofits
Federal IRS Technical Regulations on Lobbying by Nonprofits
  • Definition: Lobbying by a nonprofit is only the expenditure of money by the organization for the purpose of attempting to influence legislation.
  • Legally comply with 1 of 2 standards of compliance:
    • "Insubstantial Part Test": no substantial part of a charity's activities –vague and open to interpretation by IRS auditors.
    • "Section 501 (h) Expenditure Test" (recommended): IRS set specific dollar limits, calculated as a percentage of a charity's total exempt purpose expenditures. It is easy to compute and applies to cash expenditures only. No limit on lobbying activities with no expenditures by bona fide volunteers.
irs does not consider the following to be lobbying
IRS does not consider the following to be lobbying
  • Making available the results of nonpartisananalysis, study or research;
  • Providing technical advice or assistance to a governmental body or committee, in response to a written request by such body;
  • Appearances before, or testimony to any legislative body, with respect to a possible decision by such body which might affect the existence of the organization (Self-Defense exception);
  • Communications between an organization & members about legislation of direct interest to the organization & members, as long as the members are not directly encouraged to lobby;
  • Communications with government officials/staff where the nonprofit is not attempting to influence legislation;
  • Examinations and discussions of broad social, economic and health problems that the government would be expected to deal with ultimately.
state agencies nonprofits cannot
State agencies & Nonprofits cannot:
  • Endorse or oppose a candidate for elective office;
  • Mobilize supporters to elect or defeat candidates;
  • Print partisan materials; or
  • Contribute money to a political party campaign or political action committee (PAC).
nonprofits cannot do during an election season
Nonprofits cannot do duringan election season:
  • Lend space, equipment, supplies, etc. to candidates or a party - if a nonprofit sells space or a mailing list, it must be at fair market value and available for all candidates;
  • Coordinate activities with a political campaign;
  • Endorse a candidate; or
  • Allow staff to contribute time at the expense of the organization; it must be done on their own time.
simple rule of thumb
Simple Rule of Thumb
  • A nonprofit organization, or individual representatives of the organization, should check with their legal counsel before embarking on lobbying initiatives.
  • Alliance for Justice provides free one-on-one technical assistance to nonprofits via phone and e-mail. (866-NPLOBBY or 866-675-6229, 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday, or e-mail
  • Committee or subcommittee has five options:
    • Pass the bill as is;
    • Pass the bill with amendments;
    • Pass a substitute bill;
    • Choose to table the bill; or
    • Vote against its passage.
abbreviations for congress
Abbreviations for Congress
  • H.R. House Bill
  • S. Senate Bill
  • H.J.RES. House Joint Resolution
  • S.J.RES. Senate Joint Resolution
  • H.CON.RES. House Concurrent Resolution
  • S.CON.RES. Senate Concurrent Resolution

Abbreviations for State Legislature

Similar, but different; check state legislative online links for Key Abbreviations.

eleven advocacy levels
Eleven Advocacy Levels
  • Level 1: Be informed.
  • Level 2: Identify who represents you.
  • Level 3: Share your story.
  • Level 4: Make the community connection.
  • Level 5: Communicate with your Legislator.
  • Level 6: Organize a letter campaign.
  • Level 7: Connect Legislators to local efforts.
  • Level 8: Work with the media.
  • Level 9: Visit your Legislator.
  • Level 10: Testify at the Capitol.
  • Level 11: Become a direct action organizer.
what problem could you identify for current advocacy
What Problem Could YouIdentify for Current Advocacy?
  • The Problem:
  • Possible Solution:
  • Challenges:
  • Time Involved:

Advocates who attempt to fix everything run the risk of changing nothing in the process.

level 1 be informed
Level 1: Be informed.
  • Using your computer web browser, go to legislative online for state link:
  • How to learn about bills in progress:
    • Search bills or tracking bills during a current congressional session by key words or bill number.

    • Using your web browser, go to the state

legislative web site.

level 2 identify who represents you
Level 2: Identify who represents you.
  • Determine Who Represents You: fast and easy way to find out who represents you is to visit the following web sites:
    • Congressional Senator:
    • Congressional House Representative:
    • Visit your state legislature web site and search the member directory or navigate to the House and Senate web pages.
  • Good Things to Know about Legislators:
    • What political issues are important to them?
    • What committees do they sit on?
    • What is their personal background?
level 3 share your story
Level 3: Share your story.
  • In your own words discuss how the issue affects your family’s life, or how it impacts your community, or both.
  • If necessary, change the names of people in your story in order to protect their privacy.
  • Include your completecontact information with your letter.
level 4 make the community connection
Level 4: Make the community connection.
  • Make connections to others through:
    • Work,
    • Church,
    • In your neighborhood,
    • Other organizations with a common mission, or
    • Via social internet networks.
  • The connection is important when bringing more people in on the issue.
level 5 communicate with your legislator
Level 5: Communicate with your Legislator.
  • Best way is face-to-face.
  • Letters, e-mails, and telephone calls can be just as effective & inform legislators about your position & what action to take on your behalf.
  • A personalized, hand-written letter can really attract attention.
  • Keep your letter short and simple. One page is best.
  • Be specific and clearly state why you are writing, what you want the legislator to do, where and when.
  • If about a specific bill, indicate the bill's number, title, author, and the committee to which it has been assigned.
  • Provide reasons for your position on the issue or bill.
  • Use statistics sparingly and carefully. Attach supporting information rather than including it in the body of the letter.
  • Thank them for their attention to the letter and request an answer to your letter. Include your full name and address.
  • Remember that personal stories work best. Tell him/her how the issue affects your clients, your family, or community.
  • Send letters regular mail or fax.
written communication key elements
Written Communication Key Elements
  • Recommendation: A one-sentence statement.
  • Background: One paragraph that concisely states the issue background and why it is a problem. Use important statistics, but sparingly.
  • Impact Statement: Indicate what impacts your recommendation could have on the state or the legislator's district.
  • Supporters: List supporting organizations, agencies, etc. Do not list names of people unless they are well-known and trustworthy to the legislator.
  • Contact Person: List who should be contacted if further information is needed.
e mail letters
E-mail letters
  • Quickest, easiest way to communicate with your legislator.
    • Put your position in the subject line.
    • Keep your message short and concise.
    • Does not use e-mail to overwhelm a legislator’s inbox. If you do, it will be ignored.
    • Use standard letter punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.
    • Avoid sending a letter as an attachment in an email.
  • For Legislative members and staff, the general e-mail address format is:
    • Congressional Senator Link:
    • Congressional House Representative Link:
other e mail uses
Other E-mail Uses
  • Sending “action” alerts to groups of supporters and advocates;
  • Contacting a legislative staff member with information on issue development;
  • Sharing information on an issue with other agencies or groups interested in similar issues; or
  • Sending notices for public hearings or issue meetings to participating advocates.
telephone calls
Telephone Calls
  • Make notes in advance about the points you want to talk about and then make the call.
  • Call will only last 2 minutes; have a concise message.
  • Identify yourself, your hometown & any affiliation to a group that is relevant.
  • Mention if you live in the legislator’s district.
  • Explain why you are calling. If it is about a piece of legislation, identify the bill number and issue area.
  • Offer 1 or 2 brief talking points and offer local examples if possible.
  • Provide your contact information.
  • Calls to the capital office have more impact than call to the district office unless legislators are home on recess.
  • Thank the staff member for his or her time.
level 6 organize a letter campaign
Level 6: Organize a Letter Campaign.
  • Get the message to leaders that your community thinks your issue is important.
    • 1st discuss the issue you are asking people to write about.
    • Collect participants’ phone numbers or email addresses; keep connected and thank them for their efforts.
  • Gain visible campaign support in your community.
    • Web-based: E-mail your friends and neighbors with a sample letter for them to send along to their legislators or to use as a guide.
    • Community-based: Pick a location for hosting an event in your house or a central location. Prepare a sample letter. Secure all the legislative addresses you need before the meeting. You’ll need a large table, chairs, paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. Request donations to cover the cost of postage for your letters.
level 7 connect legislators to local efforts
Level 7: Connect Legislators to Local Efforts.
  • Invite a legislator to your present community program.
  • Partner with others to plan a special event in your community.
  • Work with your legislator’s staff to find available dates for the event.
  • Send a letter from you & others hosting the event. Include a description of the event.
  • Call local media and provide a press packet.
  • Advertise the event locally & invite all local leaders and dignitaries.
  • Bring in experts to explain the issue.
  • Provide talking points to all who plan to interact.
  • After the event, evaluate participation and celebrate the happening.
level 8 plan to work with the media
Level 8: Plan to Work with the Media.
  • When a reporter contacts you, try to get back to them ASAP. Know in advance 3-4 important points you want to make. Keep your cool in answering controversial questions.
  • Write a short letter to the editor. Most papers ask for only 250 words. Support your viewpoint with personal experience or related facts. Double check grammar and spelling.
  • Follow the instructions on the newspaper’s website for submitting a Letter to the Editor.
level 9 visit your legislator
Level 9: Visit Your Legislator.
  • Before your visit: find out current issues most important to them; the committees they serve on and what issues they support.
  • Making the personal visits to their office.
    • Make an appointment as far in advance as possible.
    • Appointments last from five to ten minutes.
    • Arrive early, but be prepared to wait.
    • Introduce yourself and whom you represent. A group should choose one spokesperson.
    • Be clear and specific about what the desired action you want.
    • Do not overload them with too much information - summarize.
    • Be prepared to answer questions and talk about both sides of the issue.
    • Explicitly ask for action. Limit yourself to one action request per visit.
    • Take a one-page issue fact sheet to the visit & leave it with the staff.
    • Check back later for an answer to any request.
    • Follow-up with a thank you letter for their time, repeat a few of your talking points plus add any details you agreed to do.
level 10 testify at the capitol
Level 10: Testify at the Capitol.
  • Supply legislators with important information on a specific bill or piece of legislation by:
    • Submitting written testimony, and
    • Addressing the committee.
  • Know the date, time, and location of the committee hearing.
  • Arrive early to the hearing & fill out the statement form (at the back of the room), which includes your identification information. Committee clerk receives the completed form and 15-20 copies of testimony.
  • On the form, indicate whether you support, are against, or a state witness for the bill you plan to provide testimony for. Also indicate if you would like to address the committee or submit written testimony only.
  • Provide enough copies of your testimony for each committee member.
  • If submitting written testimony only, you may leave. If planning to address the committee, you must wait to be called by the Committee Chair. NOTE: Committee members may come and go as their schedule permits.
effective verbal testimony
Effective Verbal Testimony
  • Present your verbal testimony in three minutes or less.
  • Your voice is what matters. Try not to read your testimony. Speak candidly, but concise.
  • State who you are, whom you represent and what your position is on the identified issue or bill.
  • Direct your replies to questions to all committee members.
  • Identify your concerns & how the committee could make bill improvements.
  • Restate your main point at the end of your testimony.
  • If asked a question you do not know the answer to, offer to follow up later with that information.
  • Thank them for their time & consideration of your position.
public hearings
Public Hearings
  • Give individuals and groups an opportunity to express their opinions.
  • Most public hearings are held at the Capital or a notice of the hearing is published on the appropriate state, county, city website.
  • Providing testimony when you are knowledgeable & prepared to answer issue questions, or you have personal experience with the issue or have researched it thoroughly.
  • An alternative to providing testimony is to fill out a testimony card stating that you support or oppose an issue or bill, but do not wish to verbally testify.
  • Submit one-page written testimony on official stationery; state who you are and whom you represent plus briefly indicate why you support or oppose the item. Attach brief supporting materials.
level 11 become a direct action organizer
Level 11: Become a Direct Action Organizer.
  • Plan a strategy for an organization to address an issue.
  • Select an issue, that a majority of people will commit to take collective action on, that is also not actively opposed by organized groups with larger numbers.
  • Identify the Five I’s of Policy Analysis as a planning/organizing tool. Write down:
    • Information- the facts
    • Issues- identify specific issue
    • Impact- what are the consequences
    • Implications- what possible effect
    • Imperatives-what are we going to do about it!
process for issue analysis
Process for Issue-Analysis
  • Seven steps in the process:

1. Define the Issue

2. Identify the Interested Parties

3. Gather Perspectives

4. Analyze Viewpoints

5. Form a Position

6. Make an Direct Action Plan (DAO)

7. Take Action

  • The Direct Action Organizing Strategy Plan further describes the process to develop a plan to resolve an issue.
d irect a ction o rganizing goals
Direct Action OrganizingGoals


  • Long-term objective:



  • Intermediate goals:



  • Short-term or partial victories:



dao organizational considerations
DAO Organizational Considerations
  • List of your resources:
    • Money – 
    • # of Staff -
    • Data –
    • Facilities -
    • Reputation – 
    • Campaign Area -
    • Budget –
      • $ available:
      • In-kind donations:
  • Ways to strength your organization:
  • Internal problems list: 
dao constituents allies opponents
DAO Constituents, Allies & Opponents
  • List allies & constituents 
  • List opponents & corresponding factors:

DAO Targets (Decision-makers)

  • Primary Targets
  • Corresponding Secondary Targets

DAO Tactics (Activities)

  • Specific Tactics

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,committed citizens can change the world.Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.Margaret Mead

  • Tips for Public Policy Involvement, 2011

Download PowerPoint & eBook from

  • AAFCS Public Policy Toolkit:
  • TX Early Childhood Education Coalition Parent Advocacy Toolkit:
  • Glsen Leadership Training Institute and Midwest Academy:
  • Advocating for a Healthy Texas: Advocacy 101, One Voice Texas,April 2008.
  • IRS Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits: