How Do I Advocate for Policy Change?

Ronald L. Book

December 30, 2022


If you have a policy issue, you would like to see passed, you should know the steps for policy change to advocate for it. You can use many tactics to help make your cause a reality, but the goal is to educate your members of Congress, build relationships with them, and raise the grant funds necessary to support your efforts.

Build relationships with your members of Congress

Building relationships with your members of Congress can be a crucial way to influence policy change. Legislators listen to constituent concerns and seek advice from respected sources. You can build a relationship with your legislators by communicating regularly and establishing a connection.

Emails are a great way to keep lines of communication open. They can be received immediately by Congressional offices and are especially important for time-sensitive issues. Emails should be short and substantive. Explain the problem in simple terms, and state what action you are asking for. It can also be helpful to include relevant personal stories.

When you email your member of Congress, be sure to include the name of the writer. In addition, be sure to thank them for reading your letter. This shows that you appreciate their time.

Identify tactics that fit your group’s situation and goals

Advocacy is a complex undertaking. It involves many facets and players, a solid organizational plan, and the ability to respond to changes in the status quo. Whether you advocate for a cause or are a concerned citizen, the best tactics are flexible, scalable, and well-thought-out. These tactics are the best bet when it comes to enacting policy change.

Identifying the best tactics will help you make the most of your limited time and resources. Luckily, there are a few websites that do the legwork for you. One such site, the Global Nonviolent Action Database, features a database of more than 200 tactics used across the globe. The site also includes an informative introductory tutorial and case studies.

Educate advocates for policy change

Advocacy is key to successful policy change. It can be done on your own, by an individual, or organization. The most effective advocacy is an intersectional effort that brings together different stakeholders.

An example of this is the Education Trust. This group is dedicated to closing the education equity gap. They engage with a variety of coalitions to promote evidence-based policies. Their goal is to increase education justice and ensure all students have access to a high-quality education.

Another example of advocacy is the Debt-Free College Act. This bill would eliminate lifetime debt for students who attend college. Jumpstart endorsed this bill. If passed, future educators could pursue career goals while taking no loans.

One of the most powerful tools for education advocacy is data. Accessing data makes it easier to work with policymakers and practitioners. Advocates can work with more diverse groups, and the data provides insights into workforce needs and best practices.

Find a legislative champion

ign: justify;”>Getting a legislative champion for a particular policy change can be difficult. But if you know how to find one, you’ll be able to improve your chances of success. One of the most effective strategies for getting a policy champion is educating the legislators on your cause. It’s also a good idea to make your expertise available to them. Legislators are always motivated by their constituents. By educating them, you’ll be able to develop a solid relationship with them.

Another good strategy is identifying a legislative champion interested in a specific policy area. They may have a leadership position in the House or Senate or be a vital committee member. If you can identify a champion, you’ll have the opportunity to get them to sponsor a bill or help you propose amendments to proposed legislation.

Raise grant funds

The RAISE program, or Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, is a competitive grant program administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These grants are intended to spur investment in multimodal infrastructure, such as bicycle and pedestrian paths, trails, or roadways. A successful RAISE grant application should involve an appropriate mix of Federal and non-Federal resources.

While the RAISE grant program isn’t the only way to fund trail construction, it is undoubtedly a great source of capital for trail enthusiasts and savvy municipal budget managers. A few of the most successful grants have involved the creation of new or improved bicycle and pedestrian trails and rehabilitating or expanding existing ones. This program can be a boon to communities looking to close the cycling and walking chasm that has plagued them for years.