Since starting the Advocacy Collaborative in 2014 I’ve come to the conclusion that as change-making leaders we need to fundamentally shift our understanding of the word “Advocacy” and including what it means to be an Advocate and use our voice for change.
We fixate on the tactical part, but the truth is Advocacy is less about what we are doing and more about who we are being before our voice is shared.
And what I’ve observed is that there are a whole lot of false beliefs, fears and disruptive mindsets that cause us to play small and stay disconnected from our voice and our power.
So as we prepare to welcome in 2018, I want to share with you my list of the
Top 5 False Beliefs We Need to Release So We Can Play Big With Our Voice:
1. Doubting our value. I’ve observed over the years that nonprofits have a tendency to undervalue ourselves tremendously. We second-guess what we have to say. Or we feel like we have to be lawyers or policy experts before our voices can be heard publicly.
But the truth is you are the expert when it comes to your mission.
I used to lead lobbying trips to Washington D.C. with nonprofit leaders who employed hundreds if not thousands of voters in their lawmaker’s district. They were basically running small businesses, paying taxes and payroll into the local economy. Yet, they often doubted their influence and that what they had to say about impacts to those they served was valuable.
Invariably, they would walk away feeling more empowered and confident to be visible because someone in power had affirmed their value.
Now if only we could value ourselves first!
2. Needing to be liked Instead of respected. There
A common concern is
But in fact, the opposite happened. The organization ended up receiving a large donation once it was learned that they had expanded their services to encompass other religious and cultural groups.
The community responded with further support because the nonprofit had communicated its decision in a way that made it clear they were acting from their core value of inclusiveness.
3. Fear of being political or allowing others to define our issues as political. Boards are notorious for confusing policy, the thing we are trying to change, with politics.
Politics is the environment in which policy decisions are made, but we are not being political when we use our voice and our position in the community to call for better schools or to question funding allocations. I can’t tell you the harm and damage this does when we allow others to define our issues for us.
As leaders, you have not only an opportunity, but I would argue an obligation, to speak up and out and in so doing help the wider public to better understand your mission and the people you serve.
4. Risk Aversion.
Using your voice publicly doesn’t need to feel risky when it’s rooted in your values. And, you’re not serving anyone particularly well when you’re the best-kept secret in your neighborhood.
5. Scarcity Mentality. One of the ugly underbellies of the nonprofit world is competition, not because it exists, but because of how we respond. Now, on the one hand, it’s perfectly understandable to have some concerns because. Depending upon where your nonprofit is located, there may be a limited number of foundations or individual donors interested in funding your particular issue. On the other hand, good fundraisers know that the secret to success is collaboration, not isolation.
There’s a synergy and magnifying effect that occurs when we work with others. Our message spreads. We reach more people. And we become known as a resource and
Sometimes it takes you making the first move, or not being afraid to challenge non-collaborative behavior when you see it.
Which one are you willing to let go of? Usually, there’s one that rises to the top.
What’s one thing you can stop doing?
What I want for you is