Advocacy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” For nonprofit associations, in particular, advocacy and relationships with other influential organizations is of utmost importance. You can show your advocacy by writing articles and comment letters or taking part in meetings with standard setters, giving a voice to your membership.
Advocacy demonstrates an organization’s dedication, loyalty, and passion for a cause that may be the heartbeat of its members. Advocacy provides many benefits for organizations, but here’s what I chose as the top three.
Protect Member Interests
There are a number of ways to protect your stakeholders’ interests, in turn creating trust. For one, sending out research surveys helps your organization get a pulse of what members need and want and help provide appropriate products and services to specific locales. This also expands your reach and opens up new markets for your organization.
In addition, you can create committees dedicated to advocating for your cause that will give your membership a voice. These committees are at the forefront of the cause that gauge stakeholder interest through meetings and voice those opinions to standard setters. This creates trust among members, and when members trust their organization, they become loyal and more engaged in the organization’s volunteer community.
Increase in Volunteer Engagement
If your organization has loyal members and is advocating for their interests, chances are that interest in becoming a volunteer will grow. IMA’s Financial Reporting Committee, Small Business Financial and Regulatory Affairs Committee, Technology Solutions and Practices Committee, and Committee on Ethics are made up of volunteer leaders who increasingly advocate for best practices in the management accounting profession through articles in Strategic Finance and IMA Online News.
The increase in member engagement will help you retain members by giving them the opportunity to have their voices heard and creating an atmosphere of unity and commitment to a common cause. Then you’ll be able to rely more on volunteers around the world to advocate for your cause.
Volunteers are essential for running a nonprofit organization, and reminding them of how valuable they are is equally as important since they are the feet on the street that keeps your organization running.
Build Partnerships and Alliances
When you connect with other organizations, you strengthen your foothold in the industry and make your voice of advocacy stronger. To create partnerships, research organizations that advocate for similar causes, have a similar membership base, and are in a similar industry.
Draw upon these alliances when writing comment letters to take advantage of the power of numbers. Representatives from large firms can all address the same issues, but the letter will be stronger if all the firms collaborate on it together. This will help your organization determine the future of your industry or cause.
Advance Your Cause
When I came on board with IMA, my position as Director of Professional Advocacy was newly created. As time went on, we realized the need for a full-time liaison between IMA’s technical committees and IMA members. So my position evolved to fill a need in the marketplace, and I’m proud of the committees we’ve created to increase our advocacy on behalf of IMA membership.
All nonprofit organizations should create advocacy groups to advance their cause. Providing opportunities to give input will give your members a voice in the industry. And working with partner organizations and loyal members-turned-volunteers strengthens your advocacy voice around the globe.
Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA