III Part Series: Advocacy
Part III: Developing Your Advocacy Plan
So, you did your preparation for your in-person meeting, and the preparation paid off because you had a great meeting with the legislator and/or staff. You felt they truly listened to you, asked insightful questions, and remained engaged throughout the meeting. You offered to serve as a knowledge expert for the staff and be available as a resource.
Well, you are done now and can move on your next project, right?
Not so fast!
Ongoing follow-up is necessary for successful advocating. Recall the last handwritten note you received and how much it meant to you? What a lasting impression you will leave with the legislator and staff with a simple handwritten note. Yes, a thank you email is ok, but take the extra step of a thoughtful gracious handwritten thank you note. Additionally, reaching out every couple of months to stay in touch with the staffer and keeping them updated is vital in growing the relationship into an established long term one. Make sure to also sign up for your legislator’s newsletter so you better understand their areas of priority and perspective. Now that you have mailed your handwritten thank you notes, what next steps do you need to do? Staying up to date with current and future legislation is a must as the political and legislative landscape is constantly changing. Remember, both state and federal legislation directly impact the lives of those living with or at risk for diabetes. Subscribe to legislative/advocacy forums through AADE and ADA to keep your knowledge up to date on legislation impacting those living with or caring for those living with diabetes.
I, just as many others do in their advocacy work, sometimes wonder whether I am truly making a difference even after writing handwritten note and signing up for the legislators’ newsletter. Recently, even after two visits with a legislator’s staff member and proper follow up, I walked away without their support as a co-sponsor of a diabetes related bill. Am I giving up? Not all as this only strengthens my resolve. Also, the legislator is now more educated on diabetes. At both federal and state levels of government bills often take multiple tries to final pass the appropriate committees, chambers and garner the needed approvals prior to ending up on a Governor’s or President’s desk for signing. Our role is to educate, educate, educate – If we do, then those individuals living with diabetes will be heard and eventually our consistency will payoff!
Don’t go at it alone! Network and join others who are advocating. A great way to do this is participating in Advocacy Days through AADE, ADA, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition and JDRF. Below I have provided links to each of the previously mentioned organizations’ advocacy webpage.
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