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Advocacy Research - Academic Program Pages at Evergreen


									                          Advocacy Research (A Design, Not a Specific Tool)

Advocacy research is not based on a strength model (look for what works). It is based on
a deficit model (what is wrong). Advocacy research is typically problem based- doesn't
necessarily move to solution- not service focused. Advocacy research is one way to give
an issue momentum- keep a story going. It is defined by the initiator, this is not usually
the researcher, but it could be. The researcher is de-centered in advocacy research.

Advocacy is active promotion of a cause or principle. Your research will stand you in
good stead when it comes time to reinforce your passion with evidence.

Some examples may help clarify just what advocacy is:
• You join a group that helps build houses for the poor--that's wonderful,
but it's not advocacy (it's a service).

• You organize and agitate to get a proportion of apartments in a new development
designated as low to moderate income housing--that's advocacy.

Regardless of what your effort is aimed at, you'll need information before you can
              do anything else. Effective advocacy requires research. Learning all you
              can about your issue allows you to back up your statements with facts and
              statistics, and arms you against the arguments of your opponents. It gives
              you credibility, and establishes you as the expert on the subject. When
              your advocacy is adversarial - aiming to prove harmful action on the part
              of a polluter and stop it, for instance - careful research helps you to prove
                 your case, and to know how to change the situation once you've done so.
                                 In short, research is indispensable to successful advocacy.

• Research gives your advocacy substance. Your research adds facts and statistics to
your belief and passion. The latter two are important, but they won't actually convince
too many people who disagree with you. Hard evidence might.

• Research gives you new information to help make your case. Often, your research
will turn up powerful information on your side that even you didn't know about. It will
also help you determine how much funding is needed, approximately how long it will
take to see results, and the likely consequences of doing nothing.

• Research can show you what's most likely to address your issue successfully. (As
this item indicates, your research will probably serve multiple purposes. It may help you
plan and design your effort as well as advocate for it.) As an advocate, you have to know
exactly what to advocate for. What have others done that's worked? What affects the

issue in an experimental situation? The answers to these and similar questions will put
you in a position to choose and advocate for strategies that are apt to be effective.

• Research can provide you with anecdotes and examples to use. While statistics are
most convincing in certain situations, one actual example is often more powerful than
reams of data, because it makes the issue immediate and real. An anecdote doesn't prove
a case, but it can make it easier for people to understand exactly what the issue is about.
Hearing someone else's story makes people realize "That could be me," and gives
politicians a way to explain to voters why they favor a policy or bill.

• Research can confirm what you were already sure of.
You may "know" that you're right about a particular issue,
but it brings a great deal more security to be able to say that all
the experts in the field agree with you, or that studies have shown
that what you're advocating for works really well.

• Research allows you to make cost-benefit arguments. If 85% of former inmates
return to jail; and if it costs $65,000.00 a year to keep one person in jail; and if a program
that keeps 85% of former inmates out of jail costs $20,000.00 a year per person - you do
the math. The prevention program sounds expensive, but it will actually save the taxpayer
an average of $28,500.00 a year per former inmate. Research will tell you the costs of
both alternatives and the success rates of both at keeping people from returning to jail.

• Research gives you credibility. If you do your research well, it identifies you as a
serious advocate who does the groundwork before you try to convince people of your
position. It will make people more willing to listen to you, and to believe what they hear.

• Research can short-circuit the opposition. If you've done careful research not only on
your own position, but on the opposition's position as well, you'll have the information to
answer their charges and questions, and either to disprove their claims, or to make
reasonable and logical arguments for the soundness of your position over theirs.

• Research sets you up as the expert on the issue. If you become known as the one with
the right answers, people - legislators and other officials, concerned groups, the general
public - will come to you with their questions and concerns. When you're recognized as
the authority, your advocacy position becomes infinitely stronger.

Advocacy Research is especially helpful in certain situations:

• When you're trying to get legislation passed, or put new policies in place.

• When you want to make the community aware of an issue.

• When necessary services or innocent groups of people are under attack.

• When officials are corrupt.

• When an organization is lying to the public.

• When you're trying to prevent harm to the public.

• When you want to further the public interest.


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