Board Advocacy Project

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What is the Board Advocacy Project?

The tragedy of homelessness will end when public will demands it. We know the solutions to homelessness. What's missing is the public will to implement those solutions. Creating that will requires leadership. And Washington State happens to have more than 10,000 natural leaders. They are the board members of affordable housing and homelessness nonprofits in Washington State. These people are community leaders critical to building the movement we need. The Board Advocacy Project was created because nonprofit board members are an enormous untapped resource who can - and must - play a pivotal role in the movement to end homelessness.

The vision of the Board Advocacy Project is:

  • To reach board members and help them become lifelong advocates for affordable housing and homelessness.
  • To assist organizations with successfully building advocacy into the foundation of their board work and structure.
  • To rewrite the norms of what is expected of boards.
  • To institutionalize advocacy as a best practice for affordable housing and homelessness nonprofit board members.
  • Ultimately to harness the untapped power of board members to help build the movement we need to ensure that everyone in Washington has access to a safe, healthy, affordable home in a thriving community.

Learn more about the program below. And sign up for the Board Avocacy Project email list by pledging to be a board advocate today!


How To Get Started

The easiest way to get involved in advocacy...is to start advocating!

It can be as simple as responding to an action alert or forwarding an email to people in your network. The most important thing is to start taking action.

The Board Advocacy Project starts with capacity-building tools for integrating advocacy into your organization. Then we connect this with the most important legislative issues impacting our state today. Whether you're an individual board member looking to get involved in advocacy by yourself, the chair of an advocacy committee working to maximize your organization's impact, or an executive director trying to determine best practices for your organization's board, the Board Advocacy Project is here to help.

Start by taking the BAP Pledge to Advocate. This will also get you on the list for a regular email from the Housing Alliance that will connect you to the advocacy movement. We'll provide you with tips on how to strengthen the power of your board's advocacy efforts and real-life examples of organizations in Washington State that have successfully integrated advocacy into their board work and how they accomplished it.

Pledge to advocate!

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Why Should You and Your Board Advocate?

Together, we can give everyone in Washington the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home.
There are over 10,000 board members of affordable housing and homelessness nonprofits in our state. Nonprofit board members can - and must - play a pivotal role in the movement to end homelessness.

Advocacy furthers the mission of your organization.
 
Public policy directly impacts your organization's ability to do its work and very directly impacts the lives of your clients. Goals like ending homelessness and giving everyone in Washington the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home are only possible when organizations and government policy are aligned to work together.

Policymakers need your input.
As a someone who is an integral part of the governance of a nonprofit working in the community, you have the best understanding of how policy decisions are impacting your clients and organization. If you don't share that information with legislators and policymakers, who else can?

Public funding is critical to your organization.
If your board works on raising funds from private donors but isn't paying attention to the portion of your organization's budget that comes from the government, then they're not paying attention to funding that can make or break whole programs and service areas.


Advocacy helps strengthen the relationship between board members and the organization's work.
Advocacy is an opportunity to fully engage a board in sustaining the work - and meeting the mission - of the nonprofit they serve.

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Resources and Tools For Your Board

Board Advocacy Checklist
Every board should be advocating. But every board is unique, and what that advocacy looks like can be different at every organization. This checklist is full of ideas for how board advocacy could take off at your organization.

Board Advocacy Sample Language
As your board gets more involved in advocacy, it's a good idea to think about setting up policies to make advocacy a permanent part of your board's structure. This document includes sample language you can use for a board job description, an advocacy committee charter, or to start writing your own board advocacy plan.

Agency-Integrated Advocacy
What does advocacy look like at each level of an organization? This document shows how the board of directors, executive director, staff, and clients each play a role in advocacy and how those roles work together to increase the power of the whole organization.

Bolder Advocacy - Help Navigating the Rules and Laws
The nonprofit Alliance for Justice helps other nonprofits navigate the rules and regulations so they may be able to fully embrace advocacy as a tool to further support the communities they serve. Through their Bolder Advocacy resource, they offer easy-to-understand resources explaining the different aspects of advocacy and the rules that nonprofits must follow when conducting advocacy.

Imagine Housing: Board Advocacy Interview
Imagine Housing received the first-ever Leadership in Board Advocacy Award at the Housing Alliance's annual Bringing Washington Home celebration this past June. This interview discusses how Imagine Housing's board advocacy efforts developed and what the organization has accomplished as a result.

 

Check out these articles to discover how our work in Washington state has become a model for a nation-wide rollout of board advocacy

Why board engagement in advocacy is essential

Make advocacy a part of every board members duty

Advocacy: An essential board responsibility

Tell Board Source about your advocacy work

Stand For Your Mission pushes board advocacy

 

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For more information about anything related to the Board Advocacy Project, please contact Director of Policy and Advocacy, Michele Thomas at michele(at)wliha(.)org.
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