Member at Large Advocacy Column

Questions to guide your advocacy

After identifying the issue for which you would like to advocate, clarify your goals and objectives.

By Sangeeta D. Parikshak, PhD

In the last issue of the Advocate , we discussed that the first step in becoming an advocate is deciding what issues are the most salient to you. Div. 37's mission is to advocate on behalf of children and families, and APA covers a wide variety of advocacy issues from women's issues to graduate psychology education. If you are looking at issues to advocate for, you can go to APA's website for ideas.

Once you have identified the topic you would like to address, it's important to make sure you are clear on the values that inform your reason for taking a particular stand as well as the evidence that backs up your reasoning and the impact you hope to achieve from advocating. Below is a list of questions adapted from Open Society Foundations that you can use to guide your advocacy:

  • What is your ultimate goal? A goal is what you hope to achieve.
  • Will advocacy help achieve this goal? Think about whether there is a reasonable of success at reaching your goal through advocacy.
  • What are your specific objectives? These are the expected results of individual advocacy activities needed to reach your ultimate goal.
  • Who are the decision makers? Research who has the power to give you what you want and reach out to them. This could be someone at the local, national or international level.
  • Who else must you reach to achieve your objective? Think about who your target audiences are and what specific groups you can reach in your advocacy efforts.
  • What are your messages? Develop a set of core messages that will help you articulate your advocacy objectives as well as overall goal.
  • What evidence do you have to support your messages? Develop a list of key facts, research, testimony, etc., that will back up your messages and recommendations.
  • When can you influence decision makers? Timing is important in advocacy. Find out if there are key meetings, bills being introduced, congressional briefings or court case decisions where the issue could be discussed.
  • Do you have enough resources to implement your strategy? Determine who you will work with inside and outside your organization and what support you would like from advocacy and communications colleagues.
  • How will you measure success? Operationally define partial and full success and determine concrete benchmarks along the way to achieving success.

Please stay tuned for more information regarding advocacy from Div. 37. Furthermore, if you are interested in joining the Advocacy Committee, or have questions about more information you would like to see regarding advocacy from the division, please email us. Finally, please continue to look out for new advocacy-related materials on the division's website.