I hope you are taking the opportunity to lend your voices (and your feet!) to the many Hill Day programs this spring. As I wrote in February, these organized Capitol Hill visits are a critical way for us to build our community, raise awareness on important issues, and remind policymakers of the indispensable role this sector plays in a thriving civil society in America. Thanks to the many organizations across the sector who do the hard work of running these programs.
Here at Independent Sector, we are always thinking about how we can both build our community and better understand the role of public policy and issue advocacy in achieving our missions. For those of us who run large annual convenings like Upswell, you know that annual meetings are a great opportunity to do both of those things. Recently, I called the policy team here together and asked what policy success at Upswell would look like. Their answer was loud and clear: Upswell building the pipeline of sector advocates –leaders ready and anxious to engage policymakers on issues of importance not only to their organizations, but to the larger sector as well.
How do we do that best? How do we use Upswell as that kind of a platform?
While there will always be some amount of IS-designed policy and advocacy programming at Upswell, we’d like to see the vast majority of the policy content coming from you! Real world examples of how community-based organizations are using the levers of public policy and issue advocacy to advance their work are always going to be the most effective way to help our larger community learn – and practice!
We need those examples from you!
As we look to Upswell Chicago (get November 13-15 on your calendar), we are reaching out to the community to bring those stories into session content. Our aim is that 80 percent of the topics we dive into in Chicago will come from the local community, from you, and your networks. This year, we are asking everyone considering a session proposal to apply a policy and advocacy lens to their submission topic. Again, the best way for us to build these advocacy muscles as a community will always be through examples of how it all works on the ground.
So, I am ending with an urgent invitation. Please think about your mission and how you – or others in your network – are realizing mission success by smartly engaging with policymakers. And then craft that story into an Upswell session. There are any number of formats you can choose from as you think about designing this experience for your sector colleagues. I promise – this will be fun. AND THE SECTOR NEEDS YOU!
Submit your proposal at upswell.org/co-create. Share it far and wide. Submissions are due by Friday, April 19. Have fun imagining! Hope to see you at your session.