Supporting a Grassroots Network

The National Stroke Network asks:

Can Advocacy Associates provide us with support for our grassroots network?

Problem:  No Voice in Washington, D.C.

In 2009, National Stroke Association leadership recognized that while many effective groups incorporate stroke-related issues as part of their message the unique needs of stroke survivors were not being addressed in the policy environment.  At the same time, the organization had access to hundreds of thousands of stroke survivors and their support teams.  These two factors led to a goal of establishing nation’s largest and most effective stroke survivor network – and it worked.  In July 2013 alone, Stroke Advocacy Network staff posted three separate action alerts with impressive results.  Combined, the three alerts resulted in over 13,600 emails to Congress.  One generated over 7,800 – a response rate of 78%.  Advocacy Associates work with Stroke Association staff to develop a comprehensive strategy for achieving these results.  We provided advocacy training, toolkits, action alerts, newsletters, webinars, Congressional Record statements and a variety of other resources designed to engage advocates.

Problem:  Budget Constraints / Limited Staff

The Stroke Association achieved its unprecedented success not through high budgets and enormous staff.  In fact, the organization has only one full time government relations staff person.  To address this problem Advocacy Associates worked with the organization to develop a comprehensive plan designed to leverage every single resource at the organization’s disposal.  Static advocacy initiatives (such as statements to the record for National Stroke Awareness Month) are placed on the editorial calendar for Stroke Magazine months in advance.  Every campaign for a mid-term effort (such as addressing caps on physical therapy caps) is scheduled for outreach on the organization’s social media platforms as far out as possible.  Advocacy Associates develops up-to-the-minute short slide-share presentations outlining opportunities for citizen connections that are based on the current Congressional calendar.  The organization helps advocates engage by providing them with a yearly advocacy planning process that allows them to create their own campaigns for impacting the policy process.

Problem:  Lack of connection to and understanding of advocacy among association members

Because the Stroke Association had never undertaken an advocacy effort before, most survivors felt intimidated at the prospect of connecting with legislators and their staff.   Working with Stroke Advocacy Network staff, Advocacy Associates provided materials and training to demonstrate that because of their patient advocacy expertise, stroke survivors already have every skill they need (and more!) to influence policymakers.

Results:

When the National Stroke Association needed a partner firm to create a grassroots network, they turned to Advocacy Associates.  Over the course of 4 years the network has grown to over 10,000 members.  Over 13,000 communications were sent to Capitol Hill in 2013 alone.