Write, call, email, post, text…. Advocacy is about making your voice heard above the din that surrounds decision-makers. Writing a letter gets heard. Keep communications positive and constructive. Ask how you can support them in their work on the issue. Show appreciation for any positive movement – it can go a long way.

Follow these basic rules for impact from Results Canada (www.results-resultats.ca), a volunteer network of poverty and justice advocates:

  • Handwritten letters are most effective
  • Use your perspective – make a personal connection to the issue
  • Be brief, keep your letter to one page, two maximum
  • Email or fax your letter and send it regular post for greatest impact
  • You can write federal Members of Parliament postage-free c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A0A6; find your local MP’s name at www.parl.gc.ca
  • Include your contact information so you can get a response
  • When you get a response, write again; develop a dialogue and build a relationship

Use the EPIC model:

  1. Engage As a mother of two small children, I was shocked to learn that 70 million primary school–aged children are not in school worldwide…
  2. Problem Often, the thing standing between these children and access to a brighter future is school fees as little as $50 a year…
  3. Inform re: a Solution When school fees were dropped in Kenya over 1.2 million new children showed up for school…
  4. Call to Action Can I count on you, as my MP, to use Canada’s influence in the World Bank to stop making school fees mandatory when providing funding to developing countries?

We had real concerns, along with our community partners, with the potential of a local school closing down. We believed the school was crucial to community. A community group led a very visible campaign around it. I wrote a letter on behalf of the pastors and deacons that was sent to the people in charge.

John Knight, Main Street Baptist, Saint John, NB—the school stayed open

A Different Kind of Offering

Bread for the World, a Christian organization working to address poverty in the U.S. and globally, calls their highly successful annual campaign an Offering of Letters. The organization asks churches to set aside one Sunday to write letters petitioning for change on a targeted issue.

Consider taking this on as a church or denomination. Perhaps all the churches in your town or city take on such a campaign. Make it a regular event that people look forward to.

ADVOCACY TIP: Communications – both external and internal – must be simple according to Chris Rose, long time UK campaigner: “All issues are complex but your campaign must not be.” He goes on to advise [paraphrased]: “Don’t communicate the issue. Communicate your campaign – the problem, the solution, the action needed now – and only that.”