Home Spring 2022 Convening Of Funded Partners: Activating Advocates

Spring 2022 Convening Of Funded Partners: Activating Advocates

Funded Partners learn how to raise support for their missions

More than 100 nonprofit leaders focused on ways to affect change by increasing public awareness of their issues at The Foundation for a Healthy High Point’s Spring 2022 Convening. Cosponsored by Resilience High Point and Greater High Point Food Alliance, over 100 guests from more than 60 organizations had the opportunity to learn from highly experienced advocates.

David Heinen, Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy for the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, was the keynote speaker. He described what it means to be an advocate, the difference between advocacy and lobbying, and some common barriers to nonprofits engaging in advocacy. He also shared advice, including knowing your audience and having an effective message. Participants answered questions describing their best messengers, most effective advocacy tools, and their approach to advocacy – aggressive, cooperative, or somewhere between.

“I have no concern about sharing our mission and work; however, I never looked at myself as an advocate,” shared one attendee. “David Heinen did a phenomenal job explaining the meaning of advocacy and importance of nonprofits and our limits.”

Dr. Patrick Harman, Executive Director of Hayden-Harman Foundation, led a Q&A session with Assistant City Manager of Administrative Services Eric Olmedo and former Mayor Judy Mendenhall. This session offered some practical examples of how to approach policymakers and what is needed to leverage influence. Participants then engaged in a hands-on exercise to reinforce what had been shared, facilitated by Cyril Jefferson, City Councilman and Founder of Change Often.

Carl Vierling, Executive Director of Greater High Point Food Alliance, moderated a panel that included Ryan Blackledge, Director of Government Affairs for Cone Health; Ivan Canada, Executive Director of The National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad; Erica Palmer Smith, Executive Director of Care4Carolina; and Winston McGregor, President of Guilford Education Alliance. Panelists shared obstacles they faced in moving their agendas forward and lessons learned from their experiences, including the importance of strategically thinking about tone and communication methods with policymakers.

At the end of the sessions, many attendees better understood what advocacy is and how they can engage in it. Some shared that they will create an action plan to market their mission and increase awareness. Others plan to align and connect with other organizations focused on advocacy while incorporating issue advocacy into their strategy to make changes in the community.

The Foundation for a Healthy High Point has adopted a Strategic Direction that includes advocacy as one of the ways in its plans to support health improvement. Specifically, the Foundation seeks to fund public awareness and education campaigns and promote public policy changes that will positively affect Greater High Point’s health.

The Foundation brings together its Funded Partners twice yearly for professional development and technical assistance. A second conference is scheduled for October 2022. 

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