Digital Advocacy: Navigating the Terrain of 2024 and Beyond

By Brianna Ruelas Brianna Ruelas has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on December 19, 2023

In the corridors of history, the roots of advocacy extend back to at least the mid-18th century, even though it wasn’t explicitly labeled as such. John Wilkes, a British Parliamentarian, emerged as an early advocate, championing individualism, free expression, and reform, including the right to vote and religious tolerance. Fast forward to the 1960s in the U.S., the era when civil, women’s, and anti-war movements burgeoned, propelling the term “advocacy” into mainstream usage.

Advocacy has become more effective and useful than ever before, thanks to the help of technology. This is not just true in the halls of legislature but at the local, regional, and state levels, as well as in nonprofit communities.

Defining Advocacy and Its Origins

Merriam-Webster defines “advocacy” as supporting a cause or proposal and “advocate” as arguing for a cause. Legal advocacy, rooted in ancient Rome and Greece, finds its modern connotation tied to a 1960s concept by Paul Davidoff, a New York City activist and urban planner, promoting “advocacy planning” for community involvement in urban planning decisions. He felt that New York City’s planning commission should not have the only say in how neighborhoods are developed, with support from advocates.

Evolution from the ’60s to Today

From the ’60s to the ’90s, advocacy spurred transformative movements, during which communities, supported by advocacy specialists, affected significant changes in a wide range of areas, from anti-nukes to education to veterans’ rights. The ’90s witnessed a digital evolution — email, internet, and social media — coalescing into what we now term digital advocacy. Regardless of the means, advocacy remains crucial for reform for many reasons.

Importance of Advocacy in Reform

Advocacy empowers individuals, providing a voice and fostering community support, making it easier for people to speak out. It influences policies, educates allies, promotes participation and problem-solving, and highlights available resources and services. Moreover, it fosters respect for a cause, propelling it into wider relevance.

The Key to Digital Advocacy

In modern advocacy, there’s no downtime. Off-seasons are a thing of the past. Advocacy teams must be ready to swiftly utilize digital platforms to spread the word and mobilize supporters, recognizing that digital tools are essential for comprehensive campaigns.

CiviClick, the first AI-powered stakeholder mobilization platform of its kind, is set to transform the advocacy methods used by many nonprofits by providing them with access to data-driven insights and strategies. CiviClick’s founder and CEO, Chazz Clevinger, maintains that “Digital advocacy is not just an add-on; it’s a vital component of any advocacy effort. It enhances, accelerates, and amplifies traditional advocacy.”

Digital advocacy involves using technology to create, promote, and mobilize support for a cause or campaign. While traditional advocacy remains impactful, the digital element has evolved into an essential tool for bolstering campaigns. Its speed, scalability, and efficiency make it a go-to for engaging wider audiences and streamlining advocacy efforts.

Digital advocacy software, consolidating various tools, is the linchpin for success. Success hinges on planning, knowing your audience, crafting compelling messages, and leveraging a variety of advocacy activities. Challenges such as digital fatigue must be navigated, and a strategic rhythm must be maintained. Assessing campaign performance is crucial for refining strategies. Embrace digital advocacy to ensure your organization’s efforts are more efficient and effective than ever before.

Navigating Advocacy Today

In the modern era, advocacy serves a dual role as a support system and a catalyst for change. However, it prompts a critical examination of its assumptions. While it empowers individuals, there’s a question of whether it should risk alienating potential collaborators. The goal is to enable individuals to express themselves fully while involving others — trade associations, nonprofits, and government agencies — to collectively achieve long-term goals.

The Ever-Evolving Tapestry of Advocacy

In essence, advocacy, as revealed through history, is an ever-evolving force. The key to positive change lies in continual dialogue, collaboration, and a commitment to amplifying the voices of those most affected. Consider seeking guidance from advocacy experts who actively collaborate with clients, collectively working toward the common goal of making positive change a tangible reality.

By Brianna Ruelas Brianna Ruelas has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Brianna Ruelas is a Dallas-based account executive and news desk editor at Grit Daily. She is also a motivational speaker and singer, creative cultivator, and bestselling author. Reach her at [email protected].

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