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Developing An Advocacy Plan

This page provides some basic guidelines to assist you in the development of a library advocacy plan. There is no right or wrong when it comes to developing a plan, and remember that your plan is just a roadmap to help you achieve your goals. Unexpected situations will arise, so it's important to be flexible and understand that deviating from your plan is not a sign of failure.

As you begin formulating your first advocacy plan, keep it simple. Nothing will derail your plan faster than taking on too much, too soon, which can also spell disaster for future advocacy efforts. By keeping things manageable, you are more likely to have a positive and productive experience. To help ensure this, it's best to establish a desired outcome that can be measured, and then include a tool to do the measurement.

- Why A Plan Is Needed
- Get Organized
- Develop An Action Plan
- The Action Plan


Why A Plan Is Needed

To put it quite simply, you, your library staff members, and the assorted individuals who are willing to speak on your library's behalf are far too busy to waste time on activities that won't result in the desired action. Developing an advocacy plan ensures that you maximize the effectiveness of your resources. The saying "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" is especially true when it comes to advocacy efforts. Having an advocacy plan allows you to maximize the impact of that first impression.

Get Organized

  1. Start with an action plan and budget. Appoint a coordinator and assign tasks. A plan will help ensure a bigger bang for your buck by helping you use your resources strategically.
  2. Get the whole library “family” involved -- all staff, trustees and Friends. Make sure everyone understands the rationale and has an opportunity to give input.
  3. Be enthusiastic and positive. Let those you are seeking to involve know they can help make a difference.
  4. Talk about users’ needs -- not the library’s. If seniors need large-print books or students need more computers, focus on those needs, and what additional resources the library requires to address them.
  5. Break tasks into bite-sized pieces. For those who are “too busy” but want to help, have a “to do” list from which they can choose, such as attending one school board meeting, writing a letter to the editor or making one phone call to a key official.
  6. Build a database of supporters, with names, addresses, telephone, numbers and e-mail addresses. Create an e-list to keep them informed of both successes and setbacks.
  7. Support your supporters. Provide message sheets, tips and other materials to help them speak out. Train them in public speaking, media and legislative skills.
  8. Reach out to influential people in the community. Meet with key leaders and officials to educate them about library concerns and invite their support. Ask to speak to business, civic, education/campus and other organizations.
  9. Distribute campaign information both in and outside the library -- in schools, bookstores, coffee shops, or wherever else people in your community are likely to see and read it.
  10. Thank and recognize your supporters at every opportunity!


Develop An Action Plan

Before you put your plan on paper, think carefully about what you hope to achieve. Is it more money? A new law or policy? Are you trying to defeat a particular proposal or piece of legislation? Pass a referendum? Then ask yourself, "What will it take to make it happen?"

Here are some more questions to think about.

  • What groups or individuals are currently most supportive of your library?
  • What key decision-makers would you like to have on your side?
  • List the ways that trustees, Friends, staff and other supporters could:
    • initiate contacts
    • expand contacts
    • renew contacts
  • If you could escort one person through the library tomorrow, who would it be, and why?
  • How would you demonstrate that the library has a positive impact on the community?
  • What are three points you would make to key leaders to gain their support?
  • What public relations tools (brochures, fact sheets, press release, advertisements, etc.) will you need to help build your case?


The Action Plan

  • Define your goals and objectives.
    • Identify desired outcomes:
      • new legislation
      • more funding
      • greater visibility
  • Assess the situation based on your objectives.
    • Identify barriers/opposition/strengths/potential supporters
  • Identify critical tasks.
    • Key areas include:
      • leadership
      • budget
      • volunteers
      • coordination of activities
      • fundraising
      • publicity
  • Develop a communications plan.
    • Key elements include:
      • the key message
      • target audiences
      • strategies and resources
  • Develop a work plan with tasks, assignments and deadlines.
    • Monitor progress regularly.
  • Document and evaluate results.
    • What worked? What didn’t? The answers to these questions may make the difference in future advocacy efforts.
  • Modify and update this plan on an annual basis.
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