One of the hardest parts about advocacy is understanding what it is, and where exactly to get started.

“The word advocacy sometimes conjures up visions of mass demonstrations and public protests, or well-paid lobbyists in expensive suits. But a lot of advocacy is just a matter of seeing a need and finding a way to address it. It means literally ‘to plead the cause of another’ – which most of us do all the time on behalf of our neighbors, our families, our friends.”- Nancy Amidei, writer, teacher and advocate

 Click the tabs below to learn more about how and where you can get started.

Harness the Power of Your Story

Your work is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters, and what matters to you should also matter to Congress. In order for legislators to really understand how chronic pain affects their communities, they need to hear from people that are experiencing it first hand. It's always wise to gear your story towards demonstrating how government action/inaction/policy/etc. has directly impacted your life.

But what makes a good story and how do you use it? Click here to download 5 tips to help get you started with your story.

Story Examples

 

Ways You Can Share Your Story

There are many different ways that your story can be shared. For the purpose of this website, we have decided to focus on how to share your story through social media. We have also provided some resources in the areas of working with your local legislators, and sharing your story with the local press.

Your Voice Matters

We want to hear your story. Share it with us here.

Social Media

Facebook: Facebook has taken the Social Media world by storm. With approximately 1.55 billion active users, it can be a great place to share your story with many people. A wide majority of organizations and businesses use Facebook as a way to connect with their audience and promote their services. Here are some great ways you can share your story on Facebook:

  • Write a compelling status sharing the key message of your story. Strive to keep it brief, or it may get overlooked.
  • Share a photo that captures the message you want to share. Include a brief caption to bring the photo full circle.
  • Post a video on Facebook of yourself sharing your story. Once again, briefness is key. Aim to keep the video under 5 minutes.

The NFMCPA's Invisible People Exist Facebook page is a great resource for story ideas and formats. If you'd like to share yours with us, please tag us and use the hashtag #visiblenow.

The Humans of New York Facebook page is a great example to look at for ideas on how you can share your story, and keep it compelling.

Local Legislators

To learn more about sharing with your local legislators, view the section titled "How to Advocate with your Local Legislators"

Local Press/Media

The Community Tool Box offers many resources to help guide a person towards advocacy effort. To learn more about how you can work with your local media, click here.

 

 

How to Advocate with your Local Legislators

In many cases, advocates of a cause meet with their state's senator or legislator to help promote change. Before one can meet with their elected officials, they should take a little time to learn about their interests to help frame the message in a way that will help get their full attention. Senators and Representatives on the Health Policy committees can have a significant impact on issues facing the fibromyalgia/chronic pain community. The best way to become an effective advocate is to build strong relationships with the people who represent you in your community, and in Washington, DC (and their staff). You want them to recognize your name and to trust the messages that you deliver.

Additional Resources:

Additional Tips

  • Write letters-to-the-editor about issues. Members of Congress always read the letters in their hometown newspapers. Editors like letters that respond to something that appeared recently in the paper. Keep your letter concise, approximately 150 words. Most newspapers prefer email submissions. Include your full name, address, phone number, and email. 
  • Go to town hall meetings that your members of Congress hold and ask questions about chronic pain issues. Tell about the potential impact locally of proposed legislation (positive or negative), or tell about the ways that funding shortfalls have hurt the local service deliverers. 
  • Build relationships with Congressional staff who work in the state or local offices (District Offices). They represent the member of Congress at local meetings and events, and serve as caseworkers to help constituents with federal programs and benefits. Let them know how you can help them serve the community. Then when the Senator or Representative needs to know how legislation might affect constiutents, local staff will know who to turn to for input.
  • Share information and ideas with others in your community who care about chronic pain issues. Share the guidelines on this sheet.

Remember, you are building a relationship that may last for years, and that puts you in a valued position where a member of Congress trusts you and may seek out your help or opinion. Keep the lines of communication open and well-used.

 

 

 

<<<Back to Advocacy 101

Challenge #2

Learn more about who your senators and representatives are by completing this worksheet (click to download). 

Challenge #3

Click here to submit your story to the NFMCPA, utilizing the tips discussed in the Harness the Power of Your Story section.

Check out the other challenges!

We Want to Hear from You

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