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Typically, when we think of skills training, we often have a career path in mind or we are seeking to enhance our job performance. But what if you wanted to perfect your ability to speak on behalf those in need?  For instance, maybe you are looking for more effective ways of getting your legislator’s attention, or perhaps you are a grassroots organizer wanting to train your team on how to successfully frame a political argument.

Have you thought of advocacy training?

Hosting organized workshops and retreats centered on effective political action techniques are a growing trend among organizations. One example of such training are the Free Tibet! Action Camps held by a Students for a Free Tibet (SFT).

These training sessions are held “to give participants an overview of the basic principles of grassroots organizing, non-violent direct action and strategic planning.” These week-long action camps are a highly interactive training program for members seeking to learn ways they can impact and represent the Tibetan Freedom movement.

While the content of advocacy training can differ greatly depending on the issue being advocated, it seems to all be contained within the idea that uniformed mobilization and direct activism is crucial for effective advocacy. Amnesty International’s Legislative Advocacy Training markets itself to “train you to become human rights advocates by learning how to speak about important human rights issues …. with your elected Members of Congress….”

While Advocacy International’s training content utilizes human rights specific wording, advocacy training content can vary greatly such as providing insight for gender, parenting and education issues.

Traditional in-person workshops are not the only delivery method advocacy training is taking.

For instance, United Way’s Center for NonProfit Excellence program offers online tools to measure an organizations advocacy capacity. Its “Advocacy Capacity Tool” has a simple goal: it “helps groups measure their readiness to engage in advocacy.”

The participating organization answers a series of questions that access their knowledge and resources to successfully impact legislation and run campaigns. They then provide a tool kit to for effective advocacy that claims to offer “step-by-step tools to assess, build capacity and evaluate advocacy…”

Since advocacy training is a new aspect to the field of grassroots organizing and advocacy, its scope and impact has yet to be evaluated. However, with leading grassroots organizations making such training a priority for its employees and members, we may see advocacy training expand and mold in the years to come.

– Angela Russo

Sources: Students for a Free Tibet, Amnesty International, Center for Nonprofit Excellence
Photo: China Tibet Online