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Deep Dive Breakout 1: The Future of Advocacy Training

October 28 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Virtual training options are not new to us in the COVID era, but are they here to stay? Our panelists will discuss how their training programs have evolved and what new offerings and technology they are incorporating into their efforts. Examples include one-off fly-in bootcamps, fully-programmed self-paced learning modules, advanced advocacy workshops, and more.


Learning Objectives:

– How do you track training progress?
– What do you do to maximize momentum and engagement in training?
– Please share some examples of programs both small and large.
– What tech bests supports your program?


Speakers: Mark Fisher (Muscular Dystrophy Association), Megan Tweed (American Gastroenterological Association), Adam Engelman (Credit Union National Association), and Casey Kincheloe (Beekeeper Group)


  • Panelist: Casey Kincheloe (Beekeeper Group)
  • Speakers:
    • Mark Fisher (Muscular Dystrophy Association)
      • Advocates: usually those who have a muscular dystrophy disease or their caregivers and families
    • Megan Tweed (American Gastroenterological Association)
      • Advocates: gastroenterologists
    • Adam Engelman (Credit Union National Association)
      • Advocates: represent 90% of all the credit unions, 120 million credit union members across the nation


How do you track training progress?

  • Use the technology you already have to track progression
    • Custom fields/tag
    • Put everything back into your system
    • Always back up your work!
  • Learning management system (LMS) – creates regular reporting
  • Grassroots engagement software (Quorum)
  • Membership database
  • Issue AGA runs into is they have three tracks for pieces of training – it is tracked but not all in the same place


What do you do to maximize momentum and engagement in training?

  • Keeping Training Engaging
    • Learn what is working and what is not by trial and error
    • Ideas tried (by MDA):
      • Roleplay virtual Congressional meetings
      • Polls and open-ended questions
      • Smaller groups for advanced training (high engagement in smaller groups)
      • Special training for advanced groups (people feel needed/wanted and are more likely to engage more)
    • Make sure you have the right topic:
      • Survey advocates on topics
        • See how many people RSVP compared to how many people show up
      • Pertinent guests
      • Answer questions – actually answer the questions people asked
        • Thanking someone for asking the question and acknowledging that you see the question
    • Keeping up the momentum
      • Learning from successes and failures (manage expectations)
      • Think about evergreen uses of training (turn training into a toolkit, pdf, etc.)
        • Create collateral that would educate the audience to keep the momentum of training up
  • AGA Training Momentum
    • Cross-promotion of training based on topic
      • Push as much training as possible to new advocates
      • Get more eyes on the training and filter through to make sure you are getting a constant flow of advocates 
      • Help hit people outside of the typical audience
    • Incentivize engagement through key contacts program
      • AGA training section about new upcoming training or town halls
      • Do quarterly webinars with advocacy updates  
  • AGA Training Engagement
    • Solicit member feedback on engagement tactics and future training topics
    • Polls and break out rooms
    • Interactive education modules
      • Quizzes, puzzles, videos, pdfs
      • Makes these trainings stand out from other trainings


What kind of certifications are you doing for advocates? Is it working towards something?

  • AGA has a key contacts program and is trying to build in a structured program with a leadership/advocate program
  • CUNA has an entire committee that has gone through the training – don’t want the relationship to end after the training (crucial to maintain that relationship)
    • Continue to educate based on the commonality


How do you keep momentum?

  • Developing these relationships early on with young professionals create loyalty and they are ready to go to bat for you
  • Starting with youth you see them grow/develop the relationship
  • Able to go to the credit unions who are then willing to go out to their members
  • Make sure you are engaging people early in their career so they understand what advocacy is and get them started early
  • Try to target early career fellows to really express the importance of getting involved in advocacy especially for specialty physicians. Important to be aware of the important policy issues going on in the profession


Please share some examples of programs both small and large.

  • MDA Training Programs
    • MDA Advocacy Institute – a variety of topics from air travel, disability employment, proposed FDA reforms, ACT for ALS, etc.
      • Webinar format – happen every month
      • Some will be more exciting for everyone and then others are more specific
      • Always try to get a guest speaker if possible (different in numbers when having a guest) (helps advocates understand why MDA is advocating when they see other organizations working together)
        • Showing what else is out there is a value factor
      • Starting to see a slow decline in attendance
    • 2020 Virtual Lobby Day
      • Issues Training (how do you make an issue briefing more interesting on Zoom)
        • Idea: Gamification App – where people have to answer questions about the training
        • Idea: Throw in 8 tips and create a catchy phrase to bring together the tips
        • Idea: Start with School House Rocks ‘I’m Just a Bill on Capitol Hill’ – then take a screenshot of the bill and drop him somewhere on the slide
          • Have something guiding people through
        • Idea: Beekeeper Advocacy Game – make teams of advocates and they have resources and chips to play
      • Virtual Hill Day Logistics
        • Differences between in-person/virtual meetings
        • Take advantage of the virtual environment
          • Can bring Members of Congress into patients lives which couldn’t have happened prior to COVID
      • Post-Event Survey
    • Train Staff in a Different Way (every other week)
      • Hold candid conversations about what is going on
      • Brand them as coffee chats – very candid and casual
  • AGA Training Programs
    • Created a robust 5 module training to send to general advocates to get them started – self-paced helps keep doctors engaged
    • To keep folks engaged, AGA has seen a lot of success with having the advocates host and put on the training
    • Virtual fly-in training
      • Policy overview briefing – now have advocates leading (90% attendance)
    • Year-round, self-paced training modules
    • Quarterly training webinars/town halls
  • CUNA Training Programs
    • CUNA Young Professional Advocacy Trainings
      • Noticed that young professionals needed to be better engaged but could also be better utilized for CUNA’s advocacy needs
      • Interview attendees before and after to see what they liked and didn’t like – no training are the same from year to year (alter based on the feedback they get)
    • What we developed
      • Demonstrated the value to your members
      • Provided a general overview of advocacy and why it’s important to the cause
      • Brought in outside expertise whether it be subject-matter experts, consultants, congressional staffers, or lawmakers  
      • Provided an interactive program that was not too serious
      • Promoted a learning and comfortable environment
      • Provided rewards and incentives
      • Kept it simple and focused on two main areas: the power of relationships and story-telling


How do you decide whether or not to do a training module or roleplaying?

  • Roleplaying can be a little scary when folks take the mic and roll with it but the engagement part is worth it


What tech best supports your program?

  • MDA – using what we have:
    • VoterVoice
    • Ring Central
    • Next experiment: Coassemble
  • AGA’s technology
    • Quorum
    • Resource Center
    • Higher logic email tracking
    • Learning Management System (LMS)
      • Where interactive modules are hosted
  • CUNA’s technology
    • Votervoice – user-friendly platform
    • Cision
    • Magnet Mail Email Tracking


Have you changed up the kinds of training you are doing? How do you train for virtual testimony and where we are going in the next 6 months to a year in terms of advocacy training?

  • AGA hasn’t done media training or virtual testimony but has training on how to do virtual meetings effectively. Getting there but not that far. Important to address.
  • For MDA, switching platforms and getting advocates used to the new look. Taking the new platform to the next level after advocates are comfortable.
  • Trying to collect a database and testimonials from members and employees throughout the country but down the road there might need to be additional types of training. 
    • CUNA has collected all these stories but at some point, might address on a different level.
  • Collecting Zoom testimonials. Videographers come online and coach and prep. Pulling out the story through the Zoom calls.
    • Reframing that story because you are collecting it through Zoom no matter what.


Advocacy modules. Is it worth it, is there uptake? Are you using it for your zoom meetings or both?

  • For AGA it lives on the LMS platform. If you are joining the initial programming then you are sent to that resource.
    • In the promotion stage of getting the bang for your buck.
    • Vary in size and ability.
  • Web-based platforms where you can build custom ones. Shape and size for everyone in terms of LMS that is worth it to explore.
  • Everyone is looking to have a little more interactivity but do it in baby steps.
  • The very first question you need to ask is what data am I trying to crack? Why am I doing this? Why do I care? What do I need to know that will tell me about progress?
  • Also, important to look at how long the sessions are. Considering breaking out the units to make it more digestible.


How accessible are learning modules to those who have accessibility issues?

  • Some are a little limited and then others are accessible


One Huddle – Has anyone used it? (Won a PAC award)

  • Reported more engagement from this tool
  • More interactivity and attention levels


October 28
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Category: