7 Ways to Be a More Effective Advocate
If you’re like us, you’re a little (or a LOT) worried about the future right now. You want to stand up for women, people of color, low-paid workers, and other vulnerable groups. You want to make sure we sustain our efforts in the fight for justice and liberation. Here are seven ways you can raise your voice effectively and continuously for change. Because together, we are stronger.
1. Call your elected officials. Yes, on the phone.
We’re all used to sending emails. But the truth is, a phone call carries a lot more weight. While your email will get counted and filed, when you call, somebody in your elected official’s office has to listen to you — your voice, your concerns, your good wishes, your humanity.
And when a lot of people call? Well, that’s a lot of time your elected officials and their staffers must spend listening. It’s enough to change hearts and minds. It’s enough to get things done.
Want tips on how to make your calls effective? Check out this guide, and if calling gives you anxiety, here’s a “shy person’s step-by-step guide” for calling your elected officials.
Need to find your officials? Here’s a great tool for looking up federal officials and their phone numbers, and here’s one for state officials. For local officials, check your municipal website. And for the resource-lovers, here’s one more to help you get your voice heard.
p.s. Do you have a great congressperson who always does the right thing? Take time to call them too! Share your concerns. Tell them what they’re getting right. Thank them and ask them to keep fighting the good fight. Even the ones you agree with need to hear from you!
2. Get local
We talk a lot about national politics, but some of the biggest changes happen at the state and local levels. Cities and states across the country have raised minimum wages, passed earned sick time bills, enacted paid family and medical leave, secured pregnancy discrimination protections, and implemented fair pay measures while federal action on those issues has stalled. And those state and local changes have improved the lives of MILLIONS.
Bonus: Because your state and local officials have fewer constituents, each voice they hear from carries that much more weight. You can browse through the directory of elected officials in Cook County by address, level of government, and name.
3. Make Noise on Social Media
You know this one. Social media amplifies your voice and gets your message in front of a larger audience. It’s a powerful tool. Use it for good.
If you care about an issue, post about it on your social networks. Share posts from your favorite organizations. (*ahem* Women Employed is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.) Find and share articles from quality sources (watch out for and avoid fake news). Tell people why it matters to you.
Even better? Tweet at your elected officials, or post on their Facebook pages. (Live in Illinois? Here is a list of state legislators on Twitter.) Social media is a big megaphone and a way to make your communication with an elected official public. Use it.
4. Make Noise in Real Life Too!
Showing up to protests, marches, and rallies is an incredible way to make noise about the issues that matter to you. But with the risk of COVID-19, showing up in person can be life-threatening to people with disabilities, at-risk immune systems, and their caretakers. There are other ways to pursue activism such as:
- Donate to a BAIL FUND in your area or around the country
- Donate MEDICAL SUPPLIES to people working as medics at the protests
- VOLUNTEER at non-hot zone areas to supply food and water
- Continue to EDUCATE the people around you — this is also emotional labor
- PICK UP people from the hot-zone if they need it
- Offer to WATCH KIDS if their parents are organizers and need to be on the frontline
- CONFRONT RACISM wherever you see it, online and with family/friends
- SHARE LINKS to every resource for protestors you can find — bail funds, information for those arrested, safety precautions, updates for those in your area, etc
- DONATE directly to frontline people and organizations
- WRITE articles and blog posts in support of the ongoing protests
- ORGANIZE on your jobs and in your communities for fair and equitable practices
And if you DO attend a protest or rally, wear a mask and practice social distancing!
5. Get your friends involved
There is strength in numbers. So get your friends to join the fight. There are many ways for them to be allies, whether it’s taking action on an issue, joining you at a rally (virtual or in-person), volunteering their time for a worthy cause, donating to an organization doing good work, or even just talking to their friends about the issues. You can also host a virtual watch party of a documentary (check out this list of social justice documentaries and movies) and have a discussion with your friends about what you learn and what you can each to do to help those around you. Whatever it is, get them involved to help build the movement!
Have a book club, church group, or other crowd that you want to mobilize? We can help! Just email email@example.com or call 312–782–3902 x 249
6. Participate in democracy!
It’s easy to feel like your participation in civic engagement is just a small drop in the bucket. But your voice matters, and together we hold the potential to create the change we want to see in our country, and even the world! 2020 is especially important. With the Census taking place, as well as a national election, your participation in democracy can determine the political landscape for the upcoming decade. So make sure you are registered to vote. If you’ve registered in the past, make sure that you have not been deregistered, especially if you have moved or changed your name. And fill out the Census before October 31st (but the sooner the better!).
All set with those basics? Then make your plan to vote before or on November 3rd, and mobilize members of your community to do the same by:
Making a voting pact with your friends or family. Collectively commit to register and vote. Remind each other regularly. Make a plan to go to the polls together. Take the pledge with Rock Your Vote!
- Volunteering to register voters. League of Women Voters in your area is a great resource for running voter registration drives.
- Volunteering with a local organization promoting civic engagement.
- Volunteering to work at a polling place. To find out how, go to the Election Assistance Commission’s website or contact your local registrar.
- Checking in with your elderly neighbors and other members of your community and offering to drop off their mail-in-ballots at your designated drop-off location. Visit the Board of Elections website in your area to find the drop-off locations near you. You can find an updated list of drop boxes in Cook County here.
- Share information about the Census on your social media and to your networks!
7. Share these tips and take action on issues that matter.
Visit our Action Center at womenemployed.org/act for all kinds of ways that you can make a difference.