Dear Addy: Advocacy Committee
I really want to help my local organization grow its advocacy efforts by starting a committee. However, I’m overwhelmed by the process. Where should I start, and how do I maintain an advocacy committee?
Creating or joining an advocacy committee is a great role if you are interested in serving in an advisory position or helping with capacity building. Use this outline to get started:
- First ask yourself: what do you have time to commit to? Setting expectations for yourself is just as important as the goals and objectives you’ll set for the committee.
- Reach out to the Executive Director (ED) or President of your local bleeding disorders organization and determine what, if any, advocacy initiatives are already in place or have occurred in the past. If there is a committee, you can ask about joining it or volunteering for advocacy activities. If you find that a committee does not exist, ask about the organization’s process for starting one. Sometimes, this is a decision made by the ED, but often, a new committee is voted in by the board of directors.
- Find other community members who are interested in joining the committee. Generate a list of possible members with the help of the ED and your local contacts.
- Create a committee member description, including the time commitment and expectations. This will help with recruitment and ensure potential members understand the role before joining.
- Establish a meeting time and place. When you come together, make a list of your goals and objectives. Consider what your community needs to improve access to treatment. Start small, especially as you get started. Increase your efforts as you achieve goals and gain momentum. For example, plan a legislative day at your state capital. HFA’s Outreach Team can help you plan your event. You do not have to be a policy expert to participate in advocacy!
- Use HFA and NHF as resources so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Both organizations can assist with building your committee.
- During your first meeting, determine subsequent meeting times and what you will accomplish between meetings. Discuss communication methods that work best for the group; for example, do members respond best to email or social media? How can you ensure that progress is made and tasks get done?
- As soon as possible after your meeting, send a follow-up email with minutes and reminders about next steps.
- Continue communicating as needed in between meetings. Before your next meeting, solicit topics from members and send an agenda in advance so people come prepared for a productive meeting.
Creating an advocacy committee can be overwhelming at first, but you have lots of support. Contact HFA’s Outreach Team to help bring your committee to fruition.
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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.
Assisting and Advocating for the Bleeding Disorders Community