Advocacy is about building relationships
How do you achieve this? Communicate with all audiences throughout the year, not just during times of need. This helps form relationships as well as a deeper understanding of what it is that you do and how your work impacts the local community. This helps build a lasting relationship and a desire to support your research, programming, and services.
How should you educate elected officials?
As university employees, we may indicate our needs and ask for support with many audiences (e.g. funding organizations, boards of supervisors, donors, etc.) but we must take into consideration other factors when talking to elected state or federal officials or their staff members.
We can, and should, educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work UC ANR does in their districts. However, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent from the UC Office of the President. Only the regents, who have delegated authority to President Napolitano, can determine UC's official position on legislative issues.
So, what can you do if you can't ask for money?
Share the impact of your work. Be specific! Tell a story and use UC ANR's public value statements to guide you. Sometimes a personal story about an individual who benefited from your work is easier to remember, and more moving, than total program impact to an entire community. For example, talk about your work solving a problem with a specific farmer and how it improved their bottom line, share a 4-H youth project, talk about working with a specific community partner and describe how you worked together to achieve a shared goal. Did you promote economic prosperity, develop a qualified workforce, or promote healthy people and communities? Did your partners save money? Did more 4-H youth go to college? Did participants lead healthier lives?
If we fine-tune the way we message our story and impacts, we can ensure that UC ANR will become widely known as the face of UC in communities throughout California.
For more information, see my one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf. Feel free to contact me at (530) 750-1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.