What Does It Mean to Advocate with Compassion
- Listen to impacted communities. Follow the leadership of Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders in addition to communities in poverty.
- Ask what the legislators you are speaking to love. Ask about their positive hopeful vision for NC, and then connect that to your vision for love and justice.
- Stay grounded in love. Acknowledge the humanity of all you are working alongside.
- Stay grounded in justice and truth-telling. Be clear, bold, and prophetic.
- Learn how and why others do what they do. Try to understand their beliefs and values.
- Include everyone. It’s not us against them.
- Love ourselves through the process. If you are becoming overcome with bitterness it may be time for a break. Activism is challenging, and we have to invest in our own self-care.
- If we are practicing creation care, then as a part of that we are caring for ourselves. Emphasize this with legislators.
Ways You Can Advocate With CompassionThere are many different actions you could take which are a vital part of the work NCIPL does. By taking action online or offline you help to educate your community, your elected officials, and raise the importance of an issue. This helps lay the ground work for advocacy organizations, like NCIPL, to have in depth and more technical conversations with our decision makers. Citizens can be involved in several different ways:
- Personal Choices — decisions you can make every day that have an impact. These are also important stories you can tell when talking with your elected officials.
- Advocacy — describes a way of engaging in the public policy process that helps build public awareness, adds the people’s voice to problems, & gets elected officials attention.
- Lobbying – a form of advocacy more narrowly defined as asking an elected official to take a certain position on a specific piece of legislation.
What Can Citizens Do?
- Develop a relationship with decision makers.
- Request a meeting.
- Give them a call.
- Write a letter or email.
- Provide information to decision makers on an issue.
- Participate in statewide campaigns.
- Help get people registered to vote.
- Become a monthly donor to NCIPL.
- Join one of NCIPL’s working groups:
- Attend your local government meetings or consider applying for appointment to a local board or commission.
Utilize The Written Word
- Write a letter-to-the editor of your local newspaper. Click here for an example.
- Write an article for your church bulletin or blog. Check out our recent newsletters to cut and paste items of interest.
- Write to your elected officials. Use both email and handwritten letters.
Use Your Voice!
- Speak to your church, neighborhood association, or other community group. We can help you! Check out our resources.
- Attend a public hearing or an elected body committee meeting.
- Attend City Council or County Commissioner meetings.
- Meet face-to-face with your elected officials.
Get Together and Get Going
- Circulate a petition in your community or church. Email us and request a petition.
- Host a event.
- Get together a group of your friends to show a relevant documentary film, take action by signing postcards or petitions, and/or helping to raise money to support NCIPL’s work. You can do this on your own or email us for help.
- Facilitate an Earth Sabbath Celebration.
Spread the Word
Meeting and Talking with Elected OfficialsThere are several different ways to go about meeting your elected officials. You can: 1) Meet one-on-one. 2) Get 2 or 3 friends together and setup a time to meet with your elected official. 3) Request a district meeting- This is a meeting to be held while they are at home in their district. For state legislators this is a very effective way to deliver your message because they are not distracted by the hustle and bustle in Raleigh. Click here to find your members’ contact information and request a meeting or make aphone call today!
Guidelines for effective conversations
- If it is a meeting, make an appointment.
- Know who they are.
- Look up their campaign website and their profile on ncleg.net. See what types of bills they sponsor to get a sense of what they are interested in.
- If possible identify their faith tradition, house of worship, and learn if there is policy or precedent from a faith perspective on the issue of interest.
- Be respectful of their time: keep it short and to the point.
- Say where you live in their district and that you vote.
- Tell your official why you are talking with them and be able to make your “ask” within the first minute or two after the greetings.
- Be politely persuasive.
- Never lie.
- Listen to what they say.
- Focus on one issue.
- Ask them what they think about the issue and how their policy solution would solve the problem.
- Be ready to politely express alternative point of view if it is different – stressing your faith as the primary motivator, briefly telling your personal story
- If they are supportive of your issue:
- Thank them.
- Be a resource – they can’t be experts on everything.
- If they oppose you:
- Thank them for their time and move on to officials who are more likely support you.
- Stay cordial and friendly. Even if you disagree now you want to keep the door open for other issues.
- Undecided or Non-committal:
- Try to understand their reservations and continue to communicate with them.
- Provide additional information in a timely manner in a form which is most useful to the official.
- Never threaten, whine, misrepresent facts, or burn bridges.
- Leave your contact information.
- Follow-up with a brief e mail, thanking them for your time.
- After any conversation please let us know how your Legislator stands on an environmental bill or issue. You can either give us a ring or drop us a line. This information is a great way you can help environmental advocacy organizations be more effective.
- Follow-up – If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer too, say so but be sure to follow up later with the answer as agreed upon with the official (e-mail, letter, phone call, another meeting, contacting staffer). If you aren’t sure where to find the answer feel free to email us for help.
- Say thank you
Writing An Effective Email or Letter
- Keep It Short & Simple (KISS)
- Be personal – tell a story – stress faith motivations. If you have questions about how to talk about your faith and advocate, check out our faith-based resources.
- DO NOT USE ALL CAPS.
- Avoid over punctuating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Basic writing etiquette applies.
- Be sure to state why you are writing, what you are asking for and thank them for reading your note.
- Sharing your personal thoughts or experiences and expressing your motivation from your faith is never wrong. It makes your email more interesting to read and listen too. With very little time to read officials find it refreshing to read something more than a form letter.