Advocacy: Expectations vs. Reality

Whether you are leading a grassroots advocacy group or are simply a passionate member, fighting for a cause you believe in can be a true roller coaster ride. When you help someone in need, mobilize a community for your cause, or get an important issue on the ballot, you will feel elated and accomplished. Conversely, some days will leave you feeling drained, and you will make little impact on the cause you are supporting. 

The keys to a grassroots advocacy group’s longevity are consistency and managed expectations. Mentally preparing yourself and your team for advocacy’s physical, mental, and emotional challenges will strengthen your resolve and empower you to see your mission through. With that in mind, let’s examine five common advocacy expectations and the reality of what it’s like to passionately pursue a worthwhile cause.

The Nuances of Advocacy

Social advocacy is “supporting a particular cause that is aimed at improving the well-being of a specific group.” Alternatively, advocacy may involve targeting a particular societal problem by upholding the rights of people within a community. 

Fighting for those who lack the resources or knowledge to achieve justice on their own is a worthwhile and honorable pursuit. However, progress can be slow and the road long. As a result, you must exhibit resolve and maintain a view of the big picture when starting your advocacy journey. 

5 Advocacy Expectations (and the Reality)

Familiarizing yourself with common advocacy expectations and the reality of these situations will help you in many ways. You’ll be better able to mobilize your volunteers, gain traction within your target community, and make a real difference. With that in mind, here are five common expectations regarding advocacy, as well as the potential realities you may encounter. 

  • You Will Make an Immediate Impact

There is a common misconception that things would be different if “someone would just do something.” While some advocacy movements do catch fire overnight, most of them grow slowly over months or even years. 

To be clear, you should not let the potential for slow progress discourage you from taking action. Instead, this truth should motivate you to start right away. The sooner you begin advocating for the cause you are passionate about, the sooner you will be able to gain traction and make the meaningful difference you’re aiming for. 

  • Your Progress Will Be Clear and Measurable

During your advocacy journey, you will encounter several clear, measurable, and definitive milestones. A few examples may involve gaining funding for a new community center or seeing a piece of legislation through from draft to enactment. However, when you are in between milestones, it can be quite difficult to measure your progress.

During these lulls in progress, it is critical that you maintain focus on your goals and mission. Additionally, you should consider investing in data analytics solutions and other data services so that you can more effectively monitor the progress of your efforts.

It doesn’t matter whether you are gathering signatures for a petition or raising money for your cause. No matter what your advocacy work looks like at a given moment, tracking your progress can keep everyone motivated and help you recruit others to your mission. 

  • Everyone Will Want to Help

Once you launch your grassroots advocacy group, everyone in the affected community will be on board, right? While you may gain traction quickly, not everyone will want to contribute to your cause, especially if they have ignored the problem for years.

Apathy, not outright opposition, is one of the biggest hurdles you will face on your advocacy journey. Once again, data is your best ally here. Access to the right data will allow you to compose strong arguments and illustrate why action is necessary.  

  • Politicians With Similar Political Affiliates Will Be Supportive

Suppose your cause aligns with the traditional viewpoints of one party or another. In that case, you might expect that politicians in that camp would jump at the chance to support your advocacy initiative — and in some instances, this is undoubtedly the case. However, depending on the scale and focus of your initiative, some politicians may be hesitant to lend you their support.

To overcome this hurdle, think beyond the issue at hand and start mobilizing that individual’s constituents. As soon as significant swaths of their voters get behind your initiative, the politicians will take notice. 

  • Funding and Support Will Be Hard to Come By

Not all of the expectations about advocacy are naively positive. In fact, one negative misconception is that it will be difficult to raise and sustain funding. In reality, there are several ways in which your grassroots advocacy group can generate funds for its honorable cause. 

To accelerate your fundraising efforts, consider using political data to target key communities and invite them to contribute on a recurring basis. Asking for recurring micro-donations ranging from $1–$5 can generate significant revenue for your advocacy team and give you the financial backing necessary to make an impact. 

Empower Your Advocacy Group with Aristotle

Aristotle, a leader in political data, can help you connect with passionate volunteers and donors by providing you with timely, relevant insights about your target demographic. In addition, we can empower your advocacy movement by helping you identify the communities and neighborhoods poised to support your movement.

To learn more about Aristotle and how our data tools can fit within your advocacy strategy, schedule a demo today. If you are ready to maximize your reach and deepen your impact, Aristotle is the ideal partner for your organization.

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