Designating an individual at your Community Health Center as the advocacy coordinator or point person will help ensure regular communications with all staff about important Action Alerts and policy updates. If you would rather share the work among multiple staff rather than a single individual, consider creating an advocacy committee instead.
Once you’ve established an advocacy coordinator or committee, the next step is putting in place clear guidelines and goals. Stay on track with your advocacy work by establishing a plan that includes the who, what, when, where, why, and how around your priorities and goals.
An important part of creating a culture of advocacy is making sure you consistently incorporate advocacy as a part of the conversation. Adding advocacy to each and every staff and board meeting agenda will remind everyone that it is a priority at your Health Center, and will prime them to expect updates on your policy priorities and any calls to action that need their attention.
It is important for all levels of health center leadership to recognize and acknowledge the importance of advocacy, including your board of directors. Some things you can do to involve them in advocacy work are passing a resolution on advocacy and/or creating a board advocacy committee (or inviting board members to be part of your staff advocacy committee, if you have one).
When there is an issue that impacts health centers or the Health Centers Program, NACHC will send you information and ask you to take action, and we need as many people as possible carrying the health center message to elected officials, so make sure all staff at your health center are signed up as part of NACHC’s grassroots advocacy network.
National Health Center Week (NHCW), usually the second week in August each year, is an excellent opportunity to showcase the impact of your community health center to the community by inviting your Members of Congress and other community leaders to various events throughout the week. For more information on NHCW, including flyers, event ideas, tips on partnering with sponsors, etc., visit www.healthcenterweek.org.
For Health Centers to continue serving the nearly 29 million patients who currently receive care in one of the 1,400+ FQHCs across the country, we need support from our elected officials at all levels – local, state, and federal. Inviting Members of Congress and others to your health center is a wonderful educational opportunity and allows them to see firsthand the amazing work you do to serve your community.
Social media is becoming increasingly important for advocacy. The percentage of Congress active on one or more social media platforms is just under 100%, and more and more offices are placing serious weight on interactions and advocacy happening on these sites. Set up a Facebook or Twitter page for your organization and join the conversation!
Have you implemented all of these steps and begun creating a culture of advocacy at your health center? Check out the ACE Program and see if you’re eligible to apply!