In recent years, philanthropists and community-based organizations alike have increasingly explored policy advocacy as a way to protect and promote the well-being of individuals that they serve. In today’s contentious political environment, mission-oriented organizations have realized that their work can be viewed as political because of its very nature. In my work leading a new grassroots advocacy program at Ventures, a Seattle-based micro-enterprise nonprofit, we have navigated this new reality.
Our journey into the world of policy advocacy began as an inkling in 2016 and came to fruition with the creation of my position the following year. Since then, we have released our organization’s first-ever policy agenda and designed a grassroots advocacy program to build power in our community of low-income entrepreneurs. Our model includes a Raise Your Voice leadership and advocacy workshop for our clients and one-on-one coaching to help business owners navigate the maze of government regulations and public policy advocacy on issues that affect our entrepreneurs.
In the process, we have learned five lessons that can help other nonprofits design sustainable, effective advocacy programs and achieve positive outcomes for their clients.
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