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How to be an Advocate without Lobbying


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This is a presentation I gave at the Tennessee Library Association Conference in 2012, which provides some strategies for how to advocate for a cause without lobbying.

This is a presentation I gave at the Tennessee Library Association Conference in 2012, which provides some strategies for how to advocate for a cause without lobbying.

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  • 1. How to be an Advocate without Lobbying Beth Yoke, YALSA Executive Director
  • 2. What We’ll Cover Today •Defining terms: what is what •Legal underpinnings •Political activity •Lobbying •Advocacy activities •Q&A / idea sharing
  • 3. Terminology Each of these is different, although often they’re mistakenly used as if they’re interchangeable: •Political activity •Lobbying •Advocating
  • 4. Why Restrictions Exist Tax status •Federal law limits what kinds of government affairs activities a 501c3 organizations can do oAbsolutely no political campaigning oLimited lobbying (varies based on how not-for-profits file for taxes) Good brief overview:
  • 5. Political Activity – never ok
  • 6. Lobbying – some ok • Asking an official to oppose or support a piece of legislation • Any communication that refers to and reflects a view on a specific legislative proposal or bill Actions whose purpose is to influence legislation Ask your supervisor for policies or guidelines
  • 7. Advocacy – always ok •Communications with government officials or between organizations & their members that does not attempt to influence legislation •Education •Providing expertise or technical assistance •Releasing data, research or survey results of nonpartisan studies •Discussing broad policy issues (social, economic, etc.) •Self defense
  • 8. Types of Advocacy
  • 9. Communicate •Goal is to raise awareness & visibility •Create a regular schedule: monthly messages are a good frequency •Let library leaders, officials & policy makers know what’s going on •Keep messages positive and respectful •Idea is to inform, not to complain
  • 10. Discuss •Take time to meet with policy makers and elected officials to talk about issues that are important to them & their voters, including: •Adolescent literacy •Internet safety •Workforce development / career prep •Digital literacy skills Show how the library helps with these •Quarterly meetings are a good amount •Be positive & respectful •Bring a teen, parent or other advocate
  • 11. Educate •Officials aren’t aware of how the library helps the teens & their families in your community unless you & your advocates tell them or show them •An official in-the-know can make informed decisions •Other library staff would benefit from knowing teen services basics
  • 12. Share Expertise •Become a valuable resource •Ensure officials & policy makers have the information they need to make informed decisions •Show how library resources can be used to support their work •Provide information and training to library coworkers •Create a culture where all staff value teen services
  • 13. Build Relationships •Most time-consuming part of advocacy •Can have the biggest results •If a positive working relationship is in place, a level of trust comes with it •The outcome is that it’s easier to discuss difficult issues & reach compromises
  • 14. Be Visible • Who: – You, your teen space – Your teen patrons & their parents • When: as often as possible • How: – In person – Online • Why: the squeaky wheel gets the grease
  • 15. Resources • Free toolkit • Free webinar • Canned presentation • Downloadable handouts • Tip sheets • Wiki page for adding & sharing content
  • 16. Questions? Comments? Ideas? • What haven’t we covered? • What would you like to know in more detail? • What ideas or comments do you want to share?
  • 17. Contact Beth Yoke 312.280.4391 LinkedIn: YALSA Email: Facebook: Phone: 312.280.4390 Twitter: @yalsa