Who are (or should be) your advocates?
1- Your staff
Make sure all of your staff members understand what your organization/department does for the community and can communicate that effectively. Your staff are your most important advocates! Advocacy is not just the job of the executive director or the volunteer coordinator. A majority of the public’s interaction with parks and recreation staff members are with part-time/seasonal and young employees.
Every staff person should know your elevator speech, whether they work answer the phone or mow the park or lifeguard in the summer. Make sure these front-line folks understand how important they are in representing the organization and advocating for the issues facing it.
2- Your board
Advocacy should be part of your organization’s strategic plan and your board members should understand their role as advocates. Board members should use their position as community leaders to secure both grassroots and grasstops support, and be available to staff as necessary to do direct advocacy with both appointed and elected officials. Make sure that they know your organization/department’s elevator speech and understand their role in sharing it whenever they have the opportunity.
3- Your volunteers and donors
Even some of your most committed and long-term supporters may have a difficult time succinctly explaining why your parks and recreation program or its related supporting organization is important. It’s likely always been important to them so they haven’t had to think about explaining why. But if they want other people to come on board as well, they need to be able to succinctly explain why they are so passionate about parks and recreation. Share with them your organizational elevator speech, or better yet, help them craft their own.
4- Your community
The individuals and families who use your parks and walk on your trails should be some of your most ardent supporters. And the people who sign up for your classes or attend your special events should also be some of your best advocates. Make sure that you know who they are and have a way to reach out to them when you need their voice. These grassroots advocates are key to keeping support for parks and recreation strong in your community.