By Yvon Trepanier,
Chair, National Advocacy Committee
Effective advocacy – a balancing act
Effective advocacy is a balancing act involving many people and three key activities: lobbying, use of media, and grass-roots action. Each appeals to different audiences and requires careful thought and planning to ensure coordinated effort and maximum impact.
Lobbying is activity aimed directly at policy makers with the objective of influencing their decision-making. This function is undertaken by an organization and involves communicating with elected politicians, political staff, and bureaucrats. In the case of Parkinson Society Canada, senior staff and volunteers work together to lobby the Government of Canada, Members of Parliament and the Senate, and staff within the federal bureaucracy for investment and policy change relevant to the Canadian Parkinson’s community.
Media profile is noticed by government decision-makers and offers much-needed support to the lobbying effort. At the same time, large portions of the community become informed about, and potentially engaged in, the issue. Organizations generate media coverage, but so, too, can local stakeholder groups and individuals. Letters to the Editor are a very effective way to get messages out – and can be done in a coordinated, strategic manner so we have visibility in a community or national paper.
Grass-roots advocacy action is essential to raising the profile of issues on a large scale. It brings the voice of individuals to the forefront and allows elected politicians to hear directly from their constituents. Grass-roots action reinforces the messages communicated by the organization and brings the issue to life in real terms through personal experience. When well coordinated, grass-roots campaigns facilitate communication with all elected representatives at the same time, thereby creating a buzz about a specific issue at a specific time.
Parkinson Society Canada has an active National Advocacy Committee made up of volunteers and staff. This committee works to ensure that our approach to advocacy is balanced and offers opportunities for everyone to get involved. To date, our national network of grass-roots advocates covers over 100 ridings. Our goal is to have at least one volunteer in each of the 308 ridings across Canada so we need your help. To learn how you can lend your support to this effort, visit the PSC Advocacy Café.
News Releases – June 5, 2009