Advocacy is an effective tool for social change. Advocacy is the act of holding elected officials accountable for their action or inaction. Advocacy has many forms, including letter-writing, calling or e-mailing elected officials, call-in days, social media campaigns, direct lobbying and many others.

Who should advocate? The answer is anyone and everyone! When one engages in advocacy, he or she is attempting to convey a message he or she feels strongly about with the purpose of encouraging action from the official. Elected officials are more likely to take action when there is pressure, specifically from their constituents.

From global poverty to education, there are numerous ways to advocate one’s message. Advocating in person, or in groups, is extremely effective. This can be done through lobbying Congress and elected officials, administrators, policymakers or any other positions of power. One is able to advocate individually and remotely by sending emails, making calls to officials or sending letters. Ad-hoc situations of advocacy are very diverse and are often resurrected around a specific issue or cause.

Ad-hoc advocacy has infinite room for creativity and can be enacted through art installations, social media/photo campaigns, call-in days and a multitude of other options.

For best results, focus on one issue at a time. Be able to deliver the message in a succinct fashion, as people like short summaries for big pictures. While being specific, be sure to include personal experiences and why it is important to you. This is a great way to be remembered by the people (or person) you are lobbying. Beware of your audience while you are speaking from your heart, as you want to stay relatable while not appearing cliche.

To be an effective advocate, one ought to take advantage of technology, embrace available resources and personal skills, and most importantly, immerse oneself. Know the cause inside and out, therefore acting as a resource to others while being able to eloquently spread your passion! When delivering the message, be sure to identify yourself, explain why you are the best spokesperson for the issue and be prepared for questions.

The final step of advocacy is follow up, follow up, follow up! Persuade others to support the causes you support.

There are many issues one can advocate for; however, the most important factor is to advocate for something one is extremely passionate about.

At The Borgen Project, we are most passionate about global development and poverty alleviation. According to The Borgen Project, “Congressional staffers keep a tally of every issue that voters call, write and email the leader about. This information goes into a weekly report that is viewed by the Congressional leader. Your one email will get the issue or bill on the leader’s radar.”

To call or email Congressional leaders regarding issues of global poverty, check out

“If you believe in great things, you may be able to make other people believe in them, too.”    – Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Neti Gupta

Sources: Bonner Network, TIME, Delaware Division of the Arts
Photo: Flickr