3 Examples of Advocacy Campaigns
Advocacy campaigns have to reach and engage supporters across multiple channels to accomplish the goals of event sign-ups, fundraising, community growth, and legislative engagement. Online strategies like email, social media, and text messaging are key to this effort.
Here are three examples of advocacy that resulted in concrete policy change.
1. The National Child Labor Committee
In 1904 progressive reformers founded the National Child Labor Committee to fight against child slavery. Its founding members included major figures in social welfare at the time such as Felix Adler, Alexander McKelway and Jane Addams.
The NCLC began with systematic investigations and documentation of conditions in different states and industries. Hine’s photographs and statistics would awaken public awareness of the problem and help to bring about reform. To gain access to factories and mines, he sometimes disguised himself as a fire inspector, bible salesman or postcard vendor.
At first, the NCLC fought for state legislation to end child labor. When that proved unsuccessful the NCLC backed a federal bill punishing employers who employed children. However, the Supreme Court declared this unconstitutional in 1918.
2. Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is one of America’s most well known crusaders for consumer rights and effective government. After graduating from Gilbert School and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, he earned his law degree at Harvard. He began his career as a lawyer and set up a small practice in Hartford, Connecticut.
He subsequently became a noted author and public speaker. Nader’s 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed drew attention to the automobile industry’s disregard for the safety of their vehicles. He was also instrumental in the enactment of laws and regulations governing worker safety, environmental pollution, the ozone layer and consumer lawsuits.
He founded or inspired numerous organizations devoted to the advancement of meaningful civic institutions and citizen participation as an antidote to corporate greed and government incompetence.
3. The Bali Hunger Strike
At just 10 and 12 years old, sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen witnessed piles of plastic trash lining the beaches of their home island of Bali. It was an eye-opening experience for the girls, and they were determined to make a change.
The girls started petitioning and educating people online and in person about the problem of plastic bags. They also gave a TED Talk and have since traveled around the world to speak on behalf of their cause.
Frustrated that the government was not listening, Melati and Isabel decided to take a page from Mahatma Gandhi and go on a hunger strike. They took turns striking (only from sunrise to sunset due to their young ages), and finally got the attention of the governor who pledged to help the island get rid of plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2018. Their advocacy work has since spawned the international environmental youth movement, Bye Bye Plastic Bags.
4. The Wijsen Sisters
By promoting their mission, they’ve become ambassadors for a cause that resonates worldwide. They’ve given TED talks, spoken at the United Nations, been featured by Time as “The Most Influential Teens,” and founded their own charity, Youthtopia, to inspire other young change-makers.
Individual advocacy involves supporting, defending, and protecting people who can’t advocate for themselves. It can include things like helping them find their voice, navigating social networks, and communicating with decision-makers.
Systems advocacy seeks to change policies, laws, or rules that affect a specific issue. This can happen on the local, state, or national level. Petitions and letter writing are tried-and-true advocacy methods. They allow people to raise awareness, clearly articulate their stance on an issue, and present solutions. They also require research to understand who has power in an area and how best to influence it.
5. The Nuclear Freeze Campaign
The success of the Nuclear Freeze Campaign in the 1980s caught many disarmament activists by surprise. But the success was the result of a clear demand that struck a balance between more ambitious goals of disarmament and what could be accomplished in the near term.
Forsberg had outlined her proposals for a nuclear arms race freeze at a 1979 meeting of Mobilization for Survival, a coalition of peace organizations that included American Friends Service Committee, Clergy and Laity Concerned, and Fellowship of Reconciliation. The group agreed that to attract broad public support they needed to present a simple and direct demand.
The movement organized large protests in cities around the world and lobbied representatives to the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament to adopt pro-freeze resolutions. They also kept a clear focus on their long term goal of disarmament.