Important: If you are a charitable organization, consider the Rules for Charities Engaging in Advocacy.

For arts organizations, arts advocacy is a year-round effort, extending beyond concerns to highlight the importance of the entire sector.

Consider Your Resources:

  • People
  • Financial
  • Knowledge: facts, statistics, strong arguments

For another comprehensive introduction to group advocacy, frequently referenced here, please see the NDI Civic Advocacy Curriculum Guide.

In addition to people already within your organization, concider Allies and Volunteers.

Allies (or Partners, Collaborators) are:

  • Individuals or Organizations who can (a) benefit from your issue’s success and (b) bring you resources (Volunteers, Money, Experts, Office space/equipment)
  • Partners must all understand the fundamental elements of the campaign and the resources and actions they are required to provide. Use partners’ existing expertise and resources, do not duplicate them. Delivery of the program should be as consistent as possible across all partners.

Volunteers are a potent force.

volunteer graphic

Chart text from: NDI Civic Advocacy Curriculum Guide

Develop a Work Plan:

  • Identify tasks
  • Establish who is responsible for what
  • Establish timelines: Identify opportunities such as special days, events
  • Monitor progress (evaluate) regularly and adjust plan if needed
  • Timing can be everything; act regularly and promptly

Good Research = Credibility

  • Conduct research and collect data
  • Develop arguments to promote your issue
  • Be an “Expert” for Media when they need response/reaction
  • Decision-makers might be more comfortable dealing with a credible source/org.
  • Good research is the basis for good strategic planning, communications, and messaging
  • Good research can show you major reasons your issue might be opposed

Use the Media

Communications: messages and media use

  • All key messages must be relevant and consistent; avoid multiple messages and themes in a single campaign.
  • Have a Media Strategy (both tactical and long-term. Include: objectives; communications; detailed activity plans; budgets; resources
  • Use print and online media and advertising.
  • Use partners’ websites.
  • Organisational aspects and partnerships
  • Collaborate, partner, and network – multiply your impact and media coverage.
  • Be open to all partnership possibilities. Build coalitions with both likely and unlikely partners.

- NDI Civic Advocacy Curriculum Guide

A campaign should:

  • have a dedicated coordinator and budget
  • have clear, realistic objectives
  • focus on issues seen as valid by others (such as those not ‘in the arts’)
  • be flexible enough to respond to unexpected events
  • keep a tight focus on target audience/s and issues
  • limit the number of campaign objectives
  • (Re)Evaluate regularly

Types of Campaigns

Types of Campaigns

  • Lobby campaign: Uses contact and relationship-building with political representatives to secure political support. Makes extensive use of research and other evidence-based materials. Success relies on the strength of relationship and weight of the evidence.
  • Public awareness advertising campaign: Uses advertisements and other public relations materials to raise general awareness of the campaign and the campaign message. Success relies on effectiveness of advertisements and media coverage.
  • Grass roots campaign: Engages supporters and activists to disseminate the campaign message and enforce the message via calls to action. Success relies heavily on degree of engagement from supporters and activists.
  • Grass tops campaign: Uses celebrities and high-influence people to champion the campaign by disseminating and enforcing the campaign message. Success relies heavily on celebrity effectiveness/appeal and celebrity engagement.
  • Astroturf campaign: Uses campaign-generated content (such as ‘human interest’ stories) to promote media coverage relating to the campaign. Relies heavily on the effectiveness and appeal of content to attract media coverage. Content is prone to be viewed with suspicion because it is created by the advocate.
  • Sampling the arts campaign: Uses arts events and products to engage people in the arts with the aim of demonstrating the benefits of the arts through direct experience. Relies heavily on the effectiveness and quality of the event program and on the ability to draw in target audiences.

See more examples at: