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Developing Your Advocacy Voice. Marlene S. Lobberecht, M.S., CFCS, CFLE. Texas Advocacy Basics. Objectives: Identify and discuss legislative issues. Provide an overview of the legislative process and ground rules for non-profits.

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developing your advocacy voice

Developing Your Advocacy Voice

Marlene S. Lobberecht, M.S., CFCS, CFLE

texas advocacy basics
Texas Advocacy Basics


  • Identify and discuss legislative issues.
  • Provide an overview of the legislative process and ground rules for non-profits.
  • Recognize the value of the communication process with decision-makers.
  • Identify Texas issues.
advocacy definition
Advocacy Definition
  • Identifying a problem, proposing a solution and reaching a goal or building support to act on a problem.
  • In brief, “speaking up”.
an effective advocate
An Effective Advocate
  • Identifies the issue or problem.
  • Determines who it takes to solve it & makes the decisions.
  • Understands the 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 nonpartisan analysis, 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.
nonprofits cannot
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
  • If you need clarification, you may call the IRS Exempt Organization toll-free line at 877-829-5500.  IRS will not do research for paid professionals, but will answer questions for volunteers.
texas legislature in brief
Texas Legislature in Brief
  • Meets once every two years, between January and May (140 days).
  • The House has 150 members elected every 2 years; the Senate has 31members serving 4-year terms – ½ of Senate elected every 2 years.
  • Speaker of the House, elected by a majority of House members at the beginning of each session, presides over the House.
  • Lieutenant Governor, who is elected in a statewide election every four years, presides over the Texas State Senate.
other facts
Other facts:
  • Lieutenant Governor & Speaker of the

House make all committee appointments, chairmanships, & assignment of bills to committees.

  • Speaker of the House may vote on all legislation. Lieutenant Governor may only vote to break a tie.
  • Legislator introduces (files) a bill that may have been drafted by anyone. Pre-filing begins the Monday following the Nov. general even-numbered yr. election. Once in session, bills may be introduced through the 60th day of the session.
  • Texas Constitution requires that all revenue-raising bills (taxes) originate in the House of Representatives.

Bill must be read on three separate days in each legislative chamber, this rule may be suspended by a 4/5 vote of approval.

  • Legislative Budget Board (LBB) prepares the general appropriations bill (state budget).
  • The LBB is: Lieutenant Governor, Joint-Chair; Speaker of the House, Joint-Chair; Chair, House Committee on Appropriations; Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means; Chair, Senate Finance Committee; two House members appointed by the Speaker; and three Senate members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.
governor of texas
Governor of Texas
  • Has the final authority on any bill that has passed the House and the Senate within10 days during the legislative session.
    • If vetoed, the bill is returned to its chamber of origin along with a statement of objections.
    • Legislature can override a veto by the Governor with a two-thirds vote of both chambers.
  • Act on bills within 20 days of Legislature adjournment. Vetoed bills die if Leg. adjourned.
  • May sign, veto or allow a bill to become law without a signature.
bill a proposed law during session for consideration by the legislature
Bill-A proposed law during session for consideration by the legislature.
  • Types of Bills:
    • Local Bills: Bills limited to a specific geographical area of the state, e.g., local government units such as cities, counties, school districts, precincts, etc.
    • Special Bills: Bills directed toward a select, special individual or entity, e.g., for blind but not other disabled persons.
    • General Bills: All other bills are "general" bills.
  • Only requirement - it be read aloud (1st reading-“caption”) and assigned to a committee.
  • Once in committee, it is up to that committee, particularly the chair, to determine if the bill will be amended, rejected, tabled or approved.
  • Leaves committee, it must be scheduled for consideration on the House floor by the House Calendars Committee/Local & Consent Calendar Committee or it dies.
  • Senate bills must be scheduled by the Lieutenant Governor or the Senate Administration Committee for regular order of business consideration on the Senate floor or it dies.
  • 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 tx state legislation
Abbreviations for TX State Legislation
  • HB House Bill
  • SB Senate Bill
  • HCR House Concurrent Resolution
  • SCR Senate Concurrent Resolution
  • HJR House Joint Resolution
  • SJR Senate Joint Resolution
  • CSHB Committee Substitute House Bill
  • CSSB Committee Substitute Senate Bill
chamber floor action
Chamber Floor Action
  • Second reading is when a bill is scheduled for floor action.
  • A bill that passes the House or Senate on its third reading is considered "engrossed". It is then sent to the other chamber and the process begins all over again.
  • If a House bill is amended by the Senate, or vice versa, it is returned to the chamber of origin for "concurrence" on the amendments or a Conference Committee is appointed to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
  • When both chambers approve a bill in identical form or adopt the conference committee report, it is "enrolled" in final form, signed by the presiding officers of the Senate and the House, and sent to the Governor.
  • In Texas, a filibuster is allowed only in the Senate.
tentative 2011 leg calendar
Tentative 2011 Leg. Calendar
  • January 11, 2011 (1st day) 82th Legislature convened at noon
  • 60th day - Deadline for filing bills and joint resolutions other than local bills, emergency appropriations, and bills that have been declared an emergency by the governor
  • Approximately one week before close of session at midnight – last day for House floor discussion and voting on bills.
  • May 30, 2011 (140th day) - Last day of 82th Regular Session; corrections only in house and senate.
  • 20th day following final adjournment - Last day governor can sign or veto bills passed during the previous legislative session.
  • 91st day following final adjournment - Date that bills without specific effective dates (that could not be effective immediately) become law.
parliamentary procedure motion pertinent facts
Parliamentary ProcedureMotion Pertinent Facts
  • A main motion brings business before the assembly.
  • A subsidiary motion assists the assembly in treating or disposing of a main motion and sometimes of other motions.
  • A privileged motion deals with special matters of immediate importance. It does not relate to the pending business.
  • An incidental motion is related to the parliamentary situation in such a way that it must be decided before business can proceed.
  • Rulings of the chair can be appealed.
  • Before a motion has been stated by the chair, it can be withdrawn or modified by the maker. After being stated by the chair, it can be withdrawn or modified only by general consent or a majority vote of the assembly.
  • Hasty or ill-advised action can be corrected through the motion to reconsider. This motion can be made only by one who voted on the prevailing side and must be made on the same day or next succeeding day after the original vote was taken (not counting a day on which no business meeting is held during a session).
parl procedures for handling a main motion
Parl. Procedures for Handlinga Main Motion
  • Obtaining and assigning the floor
    • Member rises and addresses the chair.
    • Chair recognizes _____________.
  • How the motion is brought before the assembly
    • Member makes a motion.
    • Another member seconds motion.
    • Chair states motion.
  • Consideration of the motion
    • Members debate motion.
    • Chair puts forth question and members vote.
    • Chair announces result of vote.
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.
level 1 be informed
Level 1: Be informed.
  • Using your computer web browser,

go to

  • My TLO (My Texas Legislature Online)

bill tracking:

    • Click on Track Legislation with Bill Lists.
    • Click on Account Options: New User?
    • Provide e-mail address and create a password. Submit.
    • 82nd Legislature category should appear, if not, select it.
    • Type in the bill name (HB ### or SB ###) with a brief description.
    • Click on create. Follow the instructions & click “Receive Bill & Meeting Alerts” and/or on “Subscribe to RSS Feeds”.
    • Free subscription!
level 2 identify who represents you
Level 2: Identify who represents you.
  • Go to In the rightmost column, under the “Who Represents Me?” heading, choose your desired method of search.
    • Key the requested information; then click on Submit. The address method results in the most specific information.
    • Clicking on a Texas State Legislature member’s name will take one to that member’s website.
  • To register to Vote: Pick up an official application at your local post office or online at:
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 contact 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 House members and staff, the general e-mail address format is:

  • For Senate members and staff, the general e-mail address format is:

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 in Austin and 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
DAO Targets (Decision-makers)
  • Primary Targets:
  • Corresponding Secondary Targets:
dao tactics activities
DAO Tactics (Activities)
  • Specific Tactics:
ten ways i can be an advocate
Ten Ways I Can Be an Advocate

List from your personal experience ways you have been or could be a personal, family or community advocate.











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.


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

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