Becoming an advocate for your initiative
Now you’ve got your plan, it’s time to be an advocate for it!
Advocacy is about working with people to support them in strengthening their voice on the issues that affect them, then raising awareness of those issues to mobilise others to take action.
From a policy perspective, advocacy is important to influence policy development and to evidence the strategy. For example, information collected from the community affected by your chosen issue could be presented to those in power or to support your own policy creation.
From a programme perspective, advocacy can help build partnerships and influence those who could support your project, and could influence future policy changes. Activism is the next step in mobilisation – being at the forefront of a social or political movement and amplifying those voices otherwise unheard.
“To be an activist is to speak. To be an advocate is to listen. Society can’t move forward without both… By unanimously claiming ‘activist,’ there is no room for a dichotomy between the activists who execute and the advocates who amplify. We are paying too much attention to the ‘clout’ behind activism, and not the advocacy at its foundation. We need more advocates who amplify the problems occurring in society.” Eva Lewis
If implemented correctly, sport advocacy is a tool through which we can discuss injustices, inequalities, and social and public issues in a safe, open environment.
Sport advocacy is defined as taking action to effect social change, within and through sport. It is underpinned by some general guidelines:
- Work with local actors to ensure their concerns take centre stage
- Recognise complexity and target underlying causes
- Be engaging and inclusive
- Accept diverse voices
- Use effective communication that supports independence, informed choice and shared decision-making
- Find commonly agreed solutions to problems or issues
- Prioritise the principle of “nothing for us, without us”
You’ll notice many of these guidelines have parallels with good programme and policy design (participants at the core, no assumptions, inclusive by design, etc.), which is no coincidence!