- Discuss your advocacy plans in advance with your leadership: get their support up front.
- Make it clear why it is appropriate and important for the organization to take a position on the issue.
- Show how this advocacy fits within the organization’s mission, goals, or policies.
Your organization’s executive commissions, boards of directors, etc. can:
§ Provide advocacy guidelines specific to your organization
§ Act as powerful allies
§ If appropriate:
- Ask them to officially endorse the advocacy campaign
- Pass a resolution of support
Once this is accomplished, you can approach them individually for support in the communities or through professional organizations they may represent or relate to.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RESTRICTIONS: Many city and county employees are expressly prohibited from directly contacting public officials and advocating for specify policy or budgetary arrangements. Sometimes you can get appropriate institutional approval for this, and other times you will need to work with community advocacy organizations so that they take the lead in actual advocacy efforts. You are generally always permitted to provide expertise, data, and information to advocacy organizations.
MEETINGS: (Getting on the Agenda) County boards of supervisors often set their meeting agendas two to four months in advance. Plan ahead to get fall prevention on the board of supervisors’ agenda and contact the county administrator for scheduling details. If you are coming from a city or county agency, there are most likely rules and guidelines for how to arrange this (see above). Be sure to submit a written statement so that it is recorded in the public record. Also be aware that you may get postponed on the agenda, but don’t give up. Try to get on the agenda for the next meeting.
Attend meetings for the city council, the redevelopment agency, the senior services commission, the parks and recreation commission, and the planning commission. Fall prevention does not need to be on the agenda for these meetings; citizens can bring it up during the public comment period.
LOCAL CHAMPIONS: Try to identify a local champion(s) for your cause. It could be a city councilman, a mayor, or anyone who has a little political power. Champions can help pave the way to getting meeting appointments with other people/groups with political clout for additional support. To aid in identify potential champions, check out various elected or appointed officials’ histories (have they backed senior programs or services, injury prevention efforts, have any of them suffered a fall related injury, or had a family member who did?).
PARTNERSHIPS: Seek partnerships with local and state senior advocacy groups and provide education to these organizations about the importance of adding fall prevention to their advocacy agendas. Be sure to start by asking them if they have addressed this issue and what they already know or have done. A list of possible partner organizations is available in this toolkit.
OTHER SENIOR SUPPORT: If there are no local senior advocacy groups in your area, try approaching other local senior and senior-serving organizations, clubs, meal programs, etc., to ensure you have some local, organized, senior support.
DATA: To enlist support of local advocacy or senior-serving organizations, it may be helpful to create a one-page “quick look” at local fall statistics. Email and/or send it to these organizations with an offer to make a three- or ten-minute presentation at an upcoming meeting.
TOURS: Invite local leaders (including supervisors) to tour fall prevention program sites. This will give them a firsthand look at how seniors benefit.
TIMING: Time advocacy work to coincide with local elections. While campaigning, policy-makers are often especially receptive to supporting issues with broad public appeal to increase their visibility.