Thanks for sticking with us all the way through our Impakt Checklist! We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover one last thing: the role of policy change in effectively enacting systemic change.
We’ve purposely left it to the end because it will take skills from all of our previous steps and it might be the most difficult piece of the puzzle. Because, in order to enact policy change you have to create a movement. To create a movement, you need leverage. How do you get that leverage?
It comes from overwhelming buy-in and support from the community (step 1) and your strategic partners (step 2). It comes from running a world class organization, having data and stories to tell about your work’s impact on the community, all while being “sticky” enough so that it spreads (step 3).
The sad truth is that even then policy change can still be elusive. From voters’ rights, the #MeToo movement and immigration reform, to universal pre-K and a living wage, the reality is that the struggle can take decades.
But, you’ll help increase your chances for success by incorporating advocacy and policy efforts into your processes and efforts from the outset.
Step 4: Championing Policy Change
Core Issue Identification & Ownership (Step 1)
As you work with the community to help identify the root cause of their issues and develop solutions to overcome them, be sure to include your local government representatives in the process. Help them see the issues first-hand, hear the stories of their constituents and make an emotional connection to your cause. By inviting them into the process, you’ll be building momentum for when you really need them, when they need to go to bat for you and the community to fight for policy change.
It’s also important to keep them informed along the way, in the same way that you would inform the community. Let them join you on the journey, provide feedback and get involved. With their early buy-in and continued involvement, you’ll be building an advocate right alongside your community activists/advocates. Be more than the squeaky wheel, be the constant rattle.
Collective Impact for Strong Alliances (Step 2)
When you’re building out your strategic alliances, aligning around a vision, collecting data, and checking in, think about the need for having policy/advocacy expertise. Is there someone on your team or at one of your partners who has experience engaging with the government? Do they know how to navigate the halls at the local, state, or federal level? Get them onboard early and ensure they are part of the team. They’ll be integral to your success.
Running A World-Class Organization (Step 3)
Part of running a world-class organization is about ensuring you have your “sticky” stories of impact, along with the data to support it. Most likely you’ll have it in order to get funding from potential donors and grantees, but you’ll also need it to prove your case for policy change.
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to data, look to experts in the field like academic institutions and think tanks, whose expertise is in collecting and analyzing data. Incorporate their work and efforts into the mix. You’ll be hard pressed to fight for policy change on the back of anecdotes and surface level data.
Checklist: Step 4. Championing Policy Change
- Advocates and Activists Ready and Mobilized For Change
- Strategic Alliance with the Government Sector from the Outset
- Policy Expertise Built into Your Efforts
- Data and Stories of Impact
So, we’ve finally reached the end of our checklist and it’s clear that systemic change is complex. No one organization is expert in all 4 steps. And it would be impossible to tackle it overnight, but it’s about continual improvement and we’re throwing down the gauntlet.
We’d like to hear from you. What have we missed? What do you think? How do you stack up? As always, you can reach me at loren(at)impaktfel.com with any questions or comments.