Inspired to change the world? How to be a voice for public policy change
In her second article for the WoW! Toolbox, Sarah Daren looks at how people, including fundraisers, can make a difference to public policy. We think it is a must read for any passionate, campaigning fundraiser.
- Written by
- Sarah Daren
- September 09, 2021
Changes in political office holders always bring with them some challenges, but in cases where politicians may earn a seat for the first time, ambition tends to run high. It’s a great time to get involved to try to influence public policy in your community and beyond.
Healthcare has been a hot topic of political conversation for the last decade. And as data analytics make it much less expensive to determine issues and shortcomings, that money saved has been going to things like addressing social issues in healthcare, and closing gaps in quality from community to community.
From mental health to childbirth, and beyond, changes in healthcare begin with changing policies, which begin with advocacy and awareness. Here are a few tips on being a voice in your community regarding public policy changes.
If you want a proverbial seat at the table, you need to make sure you’ll be very prepared to answer some difficult questions regarding the policies you’re hoping to advocate for. There is often a lot of money behind things in politics that don’t quite make sense – and standing up against those things often means standing up against money, meaning research teams and such.
Before you take your thoughts into the public eye, you need to be prepared for the fact that those against what you’re advocating for will want to make you look uneducated on the subject. A stiff task, but most local issues have many examples in other municipalities of a given policy change succeeding, so find as many examples as you can to strengthen your case.
Depending on if you’re advocating for mental health policy, or a new tennis court at the public park, your audience will most likely be very different. So, deciding on who you will be directing your advocacy is the next step after researching. Weighing each demographic will help you decide where to focus your messaging.
Social media is inexpensive and a very quick way to reach many people with the click of a button, but even within social media demographics are important. Young people tend to gravitate towards Instagram and TikTok, while the older generations stay true to Facebook, or just avoid social media all together.
The message itself should also be moulded to best tap into the psyche of your target audience. As an example, if you’re advocating for mental health policy change, a more emotional message would probably work best. But if you’re advocating for more money for the local fair, a more amicable tone would be the way to go.
Leverage fundraising and NGOs
Social change requires cash, and lots of it. Fundraising is an important way to not only raise funds, but awareness as well. There are lots of fundraising opportunities, from community food drives and bake sales to fancy dinners. People enjoy the opportunity to help a good cause and to have a little fun at the same time.
Funds raised during these kinds of events should be used directly to create public policy change. A good way to ensure that they are used properly is to partner with reputable NGOs that share your goals. These organisations are created specifically to create positive change or address a specific problem.
NGOs have political clout that individuals simply can’t match. Fundraising for organisations fighting for your cause can be a great way to build up awareness in your community and make a meaningful difference that may ultimately lead to policy changes.
Don’t be afraid to grow
Even if you’re advocating in a very small community for a unique situation, raising awareness beyond that community can only help your cause. It’s not financially wise to focus your message beyond the municipality which it will affect, but with things like social media and YouTube, there are many opportunities for your message to grow without any real focus on expanding it. Natural growth starts with a positive message that can affect the way people feel about a given issue or potential policy change.
Just as in business, trying to build the needed pieces to enact policy change in your community is no easy task, and there will be plenty of bad days and so-called failures. If you simply view these as necessary learning opportunities and remember that everything moves slowly in the world of local government, you can keep a positive mind and keep working for what you believe in, even if it takes years to finally make the changes you want to see.