To ensure the ongoing success of Villages across the country, we all can play a role in educating about and advocating for the Village movement so it not only continues to thrive, but also expands to meet the needs of our ever-growing, and diverse population.
While VtVN keeps the pulse on what is happening at the federal level, no one has stronger relationships with local leaders, and understands the dynamics of their communities better than you - our members. The first step to understand how to advocate for your Village is to be clear on what exactly advocacy is, and, furthermore, have clarity on what it is not (the L-word!). We heard your discomfort at the 2021 National Village Gathering regarding speaking with elected officials, and we are here to dispel some myths and provide you with tools you can use.
As a start, there are many helpful resources that explain the difference between advocacy and lobbying – to start, check out this explanation from the National Council on Nonprofits and this one from the National Council on Aging. Right now, the most important thing we all can do is to let officials at the city, county, state, and federal levels (and everywhere in between) know WHO WE ARE AND WHY WE EXIST. As the National Council on Aging states, “advocacy is making [your] voices heard on issues that affect [your] lives and the lives of others at the local, state, and national level.” The bottom line: advocacy is advocating for your Village’s mission. While you should keep abreast of what is happening on the legislative front, as long as your activities do not indicate direct support of or opposition to a specific piece of introduced legislation, you do not need to be concerned regarding lobbying.
To kick off our advocacy efforts, VtVN will be hosting ad-hoc micro-learning opportunities (short webinars) focused on advocacy. Take advantage of these opportunities using role playing, case studies, and other techniques to assure success in your Village’s advocacy efforts.