Research can guide us to more effective messaging on poverty

Skills-Building Sessions Set for 09/26 & 10/24, 10 a.m.

As advocates working for social justice, we find ourselves inheriting a certain vocabulary and a familiar set of tools for influencing public policy – popular education, advocacy, and lobbying, to name a few. Often we are accused of “preaching to the choir” with a publication or a particular event. The messages resonates with our own circle, but does anyone outside the justice-advocacy world take note? Does the message cause that outside audience to think in any new ways?

While we are not caught up in the frenzy of Legislative Session, it is a great time to take stock of what social sciences research can tell us about effective communication. Is our message really getting across, or are we alienating those we need to persuade the most? That is the topic for our September 26 “Under the Dome and Around the State Briefing Session for Advocates” (#UDAS).

In this webinar, we’ll explore core messages human services professionals and social justice advocates have used to describe our work, including key concepts such as poverty. From there, we’ll outline why these core messages do not work with multiple stakeholders and what we can change to communicate more effectively.

Presenter for the September 26 “Effective Messaging About Poverty” webinar is Jessica Hoey, Director of Public Affairs and Community Engagement at the Missouri Community Action Network (Missouri CAN). Hoey is responsible for oversight of several key areas on behalf of Missouri CAN, including advocacy and public policy, marketing and communications, and community engagement efforts – most notably the Community Action Poverty Simulation.

Jess joined Missouri CAN in 2017 after working in Chicago for 14 years and the Bay Area prior to that. A native Missourian, she returned to Jefferson City after nearly 20 years of service in a variety of positions at community-based direct service organizations, federally qualified health centers and national governmental organizations working internationally. We are glad to have someone with Jess’ track record to lead this skill-building session. 

You can find more information about the September 26th call at the event page on our website, which has call in information, and will host relevant documents once they are uploaded.

Election Season 2020: Seizing the Opportunity Without Partisanship

2020 is not just a description of eye-health; it’s also an amazing opportunity that social justice advocates must seize in order to raise the profile of questions like:

  • What are we going to do about the housing crisis in Missouri – with more than 100,000 Missouri families waiting to secure safe, affordable and accessible housing?
  • Why do so many workers face food insecurity and lack health insurance coverage, even when some work multiple jobs? How can this be solved?
  • How do we end the stigma of being HIV-positive in Missouri and change Missouri’s outdated and medically inaccurate HIV-specific criminal codes?

In 2020, all 163 Missouri House seats will be on the November ballot, and half of Missouri’s 34 Senate seats are also up for grabs. Several statewide and national positions will be at the top of the ballot, and the media will be widely reporting on these partisan contests. Clearly the electoral season offers many opportunities, but many fail to utilize these for fear of breaking an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule in a way that could cause an agency to lose not-for-profit status.

As advocates connected to non-partisan not-for-profits, we must never endorse candidates, but we also must use every opportunity to elevate the visibility and deepen the discussion of our core issues. This can be done in a way that is non-partisan and that does not violate rules that IRS issues as guidance to not-for-profits. 

Our October 24 #UDAS session will feature presenters from our national and state partners who have been especially effective in using candidate forums, public appearances by candidates, and other public events connected to electoral politics to draw attention to a social justice issue. Please reserve 10 a.m. on your calendar for that date now to learn how to confidently engage with candidates without crossing the line into partisanship or breaking any IRS rules.


This post originally appeared in our September Newsletter, which you can find here.

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