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How To Start Your Own Advocacy Group

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There are professional groups to help guide setting up a group. For example, Families USA, offsite link. For a fee, public relations firms can help create a comprehensive, multi-dimensional advocacy strategy.

There are also classes which teach people advocacy skills, including how to share your story with legislators and the media. For classes in your state, contact the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Ask for the CEO's office. Tel. 202.872.0888.

If you decide to start a group on your own, a few tips to keep in mind are:

  • Measure your commitment to the project.
    • Some ideas will fall right into place, while others will require some hard work and disappointment.
    • Make sure your commitment will be able to withstand some setbacks.
  • Learn about starting a nonprofit.
  • Make the purpose of the group clear and explicit from the beginning
  • Take advantage of all the free publicity you can get
    • Mail, fax or e-mail announcements to your local newspapers and television stations. Perhaps the group has a website with a section for community events. For contact information for your local sources, see offsite link
    • If there is a local reporter who writes stories on health issues, educate the reporter about the issues of concern to you. The reporter may do a story about the issues and how your group is helping.
  • Search for volunteers.
  • Check with other people with your condition, friends and relatives.
  • Brainstorm with your volunteers on the specifics of the group and how to go about achieving your goals.
  • Delegate responsibilities for each person.
  • Let people know about your successes.
  • Setbacks are discouraging.
  • Whether a setback becomes a knock out punch is up to you.
  • Even by talking about the issue you make a difference.

Before you speak with the press, read: Media: How To Tell Your Story To The Press.

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