Advocacy Policy and Action Guide
This resource includes an advocacy policy template for both
internal and external advocacy, as well as a step-by-step action guide for
doing the work of advocacy.
Use the template and guide to create an Advocacy Policy for your own museum.
Purpose of the Advocacy Policy Template and Action Guide
The purpose of the Action Guide is to help museums self-identify where they are at in their advocacy journey and to provide insights and examples on how they may go about conducting advocacy and developing an Advocacy Policy to make real and lasting change. It is time for museums to speak up and out on issues that support their mission and their communities—to take a stance on these issues and not remain neutral, especially in times of immediate support.
What is an Advocacy Policy?
An Advocacy Policy is a policy that outlines the causes, ideas, and issues that are important to the museum. It is approved by the museum’s Board of Directors in a motion or by the appropriate representatives of the museum’s governing authority depending on the governance structure. More importantly, it delineates how the museum as a whole will react to moral or civic challenges that arise in your communities. The policy acts as a reference to ensure that roles within the museum’s team are clearly defined when it comes to advocacy efforts.
Why does a museum need an Advocacy Policy?
Developing an Advocacy Policy will ensure that your museum Board, staff, and volunteers are all on the same page about how you conduct advocacy efforts internally and externally.
Advocacy Phases – The Five Cs
There are a number of foundational considerations for an organization, its Board, and staff to step in to the work of advocacy. The following phases are important and essential for museums to be successful with their advocacy work.
Considerations is what comes first and foremost when thinking about advocacy. It means considering communities who have historically been marginalized as well as societal issues that museums must better align themselves with. It is imperative that you understand how your museum supports, and in turn advocates for those communities and societal issues.
Having consciousness refers to how your organization understands what it cares about most and how it then serves its true purpose through that mutual understanding. In addition to understanding what your organization’s values are, consciousness also includes understanding what your organization’s values are not, so as to understand when you are in misalignment with your values and can then act on correcting your actions.
Courage is the ability of your organization to take risks and to step into action even though you know it might not work out the way you had anticipated. Risk-taking is a necessary step to incite real change. Through building courage, you will find it easier to be agile and responsive in many situations.
4. Conversation & Collaboration
At their core, museums help communities better understand the world through art, history, exploring current events and more, thus making it imperative to develop strong community relationships through conversation and collaboration so that the stories and exhibitions you share are authentic and true to the community. It is important to not rush into forming collaborations without having trust with the community you want to work with, trust takes time to develop. It is also important to have the right intentions when approaching your community. Collaborating with communities also entails making space for the community to have an active role in your advocacy work as well.
Having clarity can finally take place when you have assessed and addressed what you are doing as an organization and when you have started to do the work with your communities. Clarity is about being transparent about the work you are doing so as to continue the conversation and build trust with your museum attendees. It is not an end but merely a continuation of the work.