The Math of Advocacy

A critical feature of advocacy, whether on behalf of individuals or to advance public policy, is to maintain momentum especially when you have been going uphill far too long. Momentum signals to the folks in the system you are dealing with that you are not going away. It also helps to keep your issue at the top of their pile.

Here’s a formula I use to maintain momentum: a day’s delay on my part equals a week’s delay on government’s part. A work week’s delay means a month’s delay and so on.

There are many reasons why it takes a long time for people who work for big organizations or governmental institutions to respond:

  • they have more people to consult with
  • they have other priorities and demands on their time and
  • they may want to deliberately slow your progress or wear you down.

Whatever the reason you can keep the momentum going by:

  • Responding immediately whenever they communicate with you. Yes, immediately means the same day. Yes, even when you have other priorities.
  • Making a telephone call instead of sending a letter. If you do send a letter indicate you’ll be phoning their assistant to arrange a meeting to discuss their response.
  • Sending relevant updates, studies, articles, news feeds as a courtesy 
  • Cultivating a network of champions who know the people you are dealing with and are willing to reach out to them on your behalf
  • Keeping several conversation balls in the air at the same time. Don’t hesitate to initiate a conversation with someone’s supervisor or the supervisor of the supervisor, or political staff or politicians. Just make sure you keep everyone in the system aware of what you are doing.

Of course you will do all of this bearing in mind you are a solution based advocate who strengthens relationships while seeking solutions, won’t you? Courtesy and civility should be hallmarks of your advocacy style.

Momentum is something you have more control of than you think. It’s similar to cycling. Sometimes it is the only thing that will get you over the top of the hill.

NOTE: Want to learn more about solution-based advocacy? Check out the audio of Vickie and my recent webinar with Donna Thomson on the topic, Advocating With Empathy.


If you want government to have empathy for your issue you must have empathy for their challenges. (Sean Moore)

Musical accompaniment this post is Crumbling Down by Edmonton’s Nuela Charles. Purchase her music here.


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