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How to be an effective advocate

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No man is an island and great change can not be gained by separate, individual efforts. In today's technology environment, even the most socially phobic person can be an effective advocate. Whether your passion is rescuing dogs or making changes in legislature to better protect children, there are many resources literally at our fingertips.

To begin, there are several Internet based ways to help. Some are educating yourself on the particulars of the cause and some are educating others.

  • Create a Facebook account and USE it. Like pages pertaining to your advocacy interest, join groups, and begin forming contacts with other like minded people.
  • Create a Twitter account and USE it. Share pictures and use tags to obtain people's attention.
  • Find a Politcal Action Committee in your area and join. PACs will usually notify members about upcoming legislation and who to contact to voice your opinion. Follow through with the contact by emailing your local senators and representative. Include whomever else in your area who might speak in favor of your opinion.
  • Creat a website and link to other websites involved in the cause. Contact the other websites and ask to be linked back. Include article links written by experts in the cause. Caution, do check out the background and full ideals of these experts. Don't just post articles without due diligence.
  • Join mailing lists.
  • Be a crossposter. Crossposting can include using email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other social media outlets to convey information about your cause.
  • Join message boards related to your cause. They don't have to be cause based, but simply involved in the idea. For example, if your cause is better protection for children, join parenting message boards to make contacts and recruit people to the cause.

To be even more effective, go beyond the internet based advocacy and do something in your community. Here in Birmingham, there are numerous advocacy groups who always need volunteers. Join Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation, pick a child advocacy program listed on Alabama Network of Children's Advocacy Centers, Inc., or find another group dedicated to your particular passion. Involve the family and teach children about helping others. Volunteers can give as little as an hour a week or as much as days, and most groups will tailor their requests to fit the volunteer's personal skills.

One of the most effective activities in advocacy is education. Work to educate others about the cause. Use opportunities to kindly speak with others, provide information by wearing t-shirts and using car decals, visit schools and organizations to speak about the cause, and work to understand the background and current state of the cause.

Together, we can all make a difference.

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