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Deep Dive Breakout 2: Promoting a Culture of Ongoing Advocate Training and Coaching

July 20, 2022 @ 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Advocates want more training in mediums where they want to engage, and often with the option to follow along at their own pace. Our panelists will show you how to reimagine your training programs to provide ongoing instruction and coaching support to your advocates year-round.

Elisabeth Dorman, American Society of Civil Engineers
Cody Lyon, American Farm Bureau Federation
Beth McMullen, Alzheimer’s Association
Jen Fox, Finseca


  • Advocate Training Program Overviews
    • American Society of Civil Engineers: grassroots (key contacts). Grass tops (advocates), and formal training (government relations university)
    • American Farm Bureau: Core training and continue to develop/enhance and execute all levels of training for farmers and rangers
    • Alzheimer’s Association: engage, recruit, and train advocate volunteers (mainly people who have been impacted by the disease or just care about it) – have grass tops and grassroots programs
    • Finseca: over 6,000 members and focus almost exclusively on grass tops
  • Building Capacity: Having Advocates Trained Before the Need Arises
    • Infrastructure Report Card (ASCE) – spans 17 different categories and explains all the ecosystems and gives it an A to F grade
      • Use folks on the ground to collect the data. Highlighting the problems and offering actionable solutions
      • State report card process – annual year process and creates a committee of folks at the state level that ends up creating a natural pipeline.
      • Qualifications: ASCE member and have to be a qualified civil engineer
    • Farm Bureau – Preparing folks before getting started.
      • Advocacy Spiral: help advocates understand there are many things they can do to be considered an advocate. Can be at many points on the spiral, but it is all about learning and understanding
        • Level 1: Get Informed, Level 2: Engage, Level 3: In-Person, Level 4: Organize, and Level 5: Relationships
    • Alzheimer’s Association
      • Look at where the advocate is when they are coming in – the structure is mainly focused on personal stories not expecting the advocates to engage or understand all of the policies
      • Spend a lot of time cultivating the story and helping advocates understand that
      • Focus on relationships and communication (build a personal relationship with the advocate and help them learn how to build that personal relationship with elected officials)
      • When they get to the grass tops program – they are a leader of the team of volunteers. Do a very specific onboarding for the ambassadors so they understand how to lead. Encourage ambassadors to hold team meetings on a regular basis (bring a personal and fun aspect)
  • Leveling Up the Training: Offering Advanced Training Options
    • ASCE: Send out key alerts on trending public policy issues (federal or state) there is always an option for them to become a key contact. And Also offer a monthly webinar series.
      • Key Contact Briefings, Grasstops briefings, government relations university, public relations university, what’s up in Washington, and legislative fly-in Bootcamp
      • If you know your clear front federal activities/issues, it is easier to know what folks you want to carry the standards for that issue
      • Want to see interest in advocacy and action so the fly-ins are application only (want to have options to opt-in so those that do are the one’s that want to be engaged and want to learn more and participate)
    • Farm Bureau: creating a variety of advocacy brands with expectations and unique pieces of training for each. Have multiple different branding/levels: general advocacy brand, grassroots outreach team (use for media requests, legislative testimonies, relationship building, etc.), and partners in advocacy leadership (tip of the sphere – takes things to the next level). Work with state farm bureaus to help identify key advocates but sometimes advocates will ask to learn more and show initiative on their own.
    • Alzheimer’s Association:
      • Advocacy Forum (DC Fly-In) – has scholarships for advocates for fly-ins but rarely pays for everything
    • Awards for Top Engages
      • (Farm Bureau) Introduce speakers and different meetings, invited to bill signings, etc.
      • (Alzheimer’s) On the federal level, at hill day, they do three awards (give advocates a reward and the opportunity to share their stories)
      • (ASCE) Outstanding Advocate of the year or award different teams for their efforts
      • (Finesca) Do not really have awards because of the organization
    • How do you fund DC travel for the fly-ins? à hard for any organization to cover all of the travel costs. The goal is to find a scholarship fund to ensure geographic diversity (for ASCE)
    • Training Other Departments – important to work with others to deliver the basics of how-to’s and share information/learning concepts for advocates
  • Ideas to Refresh Trainings that Have Been Around for a Long Time
    • For the Farm Bureau, they follow the Pixar Model to help advocates understand the rules that work for advocacy training especially rules/guides for the storytelling formula.
    • ASCE – Looked at the current curriculum and put a spin on it with specific issue areas to understand what is missing. Determined the gaps and ways to give advocates the information they need for certain topics. Should always have a call to action of what people can do and what the ask is.
      • Understand if they are all starting from the same space. Interview your constituents and their needs and wants, and provide actionable steps for the engagement period. Conduct outreach with current networks and ask for recommendations.
    • Incorporating New Technology to Scale and Improve Training Efficiency
      • Alzheimer’s Association is looking into self-paced learning and learning management systems in order to meet advocates where they are and highlight/focus on the idea of self-paced learning so advocates can move through things on their own time
        • Also looking into the reward cycle
      • Farm Bureau: self-paced training online where members can go in and go through it. Lots of questions and answers because farms and rangers love answering questions so they tap into that.
      • Accessible Training: closed-captioning (actionable steps that people can take on Zoom and Teams to turn on captions), management center as some easy steps to take with font size and color saturation to make accessible training, and making sure all trainings/videos are accessible after the fact
  • Q&A
    • Engaging Advocates
      • Think about a ladder and have different steps for questions and surveys to understand who is ready for what and really tap into people in certain areas who have the level of expertise needed. Use RAP to tap into this.
      • Providing a direct connection with the individual to understand where they are. Want to make sure you have people ready to step into certain roles.
      • Engage energy level wherever it is.
    • Targets to grow overall membership?
      • Find quality versus quantity
      • Always trying to grow advocate base
      • Looking at ways to measure the activities that individual advocates are doing in order to grow the numbers
      • ROI in terms of the media
      • 95% retention of ambassador base


July 20, 2022
11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category:
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