Advocating to Advance Missions
By: Anna Nalean, MPA, Director of Nonprofit Relations
Nonprofit advocacy can be a powerful catalyst for change at all levels. Advocacy begins with building authentic relationships and seeking common ground as a starting point for speaking with a collective voice to drive action. Our community has many success stories of nonprofit organizations, advocates, elected officials and others coming together to advance the common good.
To assist the nonprofit sector in building their capacity for this work, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines was pleased to partner with the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation and United Way of Central Iowa to offer a panel discussion titled, Advocacy: The Voices, the Roles and the Opportunities. The panel featured representatives from Central Iowa ACES, AMOS, Iowa Homeless Youth Centers, Orchard Place, and the Iowa Business Council who challenged the over 60 attendees to take part in this crucial activity for the continued success of their organizations.
The panel shared that the same skill-set that makes nonprofit leaders successful in their work provides a natural fit for success in advocacy efforts. Given the nonprofit sector’s expertise in building connections, relationships and providing education; organizations are well positioned provide resources for elected officials to influence actions to further their missions in the community. As the expert panel shared, advocacy is all about relationships. Nonprofit professionals should not presume an elected official holds a specific belief simply because of the party affiliation behind their name. Instead of making assumptions, nonprofits must take a bipartisan approach and build relationships with their local leaders to connect with them on a personal level. This includes doing the homework and finding a champion for your cause. Additionally, find out the interests of others you hope to influence in order to craft a message that fills their needs or meets their passions.
By developing powerful partnerships, built on authentic relationships, we can truly make our community better together. Advocacy opens doors and provides an opportunity to educate, engage in civil discussion and create change to advance opportunities for those we serve.