Topic outline

  • HSUS Animal Advocate Advocacy Classroom


    This online, interactive guide is designed to help you deliver effective messages to policymakers. We'll look at the four keys to effective advocacy: knowing what you want; who you're talking to; how to talk to them; and, how to follow-up. You'll come away with specific, actionable ideas to implement right away.

    Audience = Individual advocates (including district leaders) who are eager to advocate with state and federal legislators on HSUS policy issues. This course addresses basic advocacy skills. There are additional courses that address how to lead others in advocacy efforts.

  • Step One: Understanding the HSUS Policy Agenda

    As you move through this course, you’ll want to think about applying these effective advocacy principles to HSUS priorities. Take a moment to review those priorities through the links to the right. They’ll be especially important as you  explore the “What You Want” sections of the course.    

    Take Action Center


    Legislative Agenda

    Advocate Toolkit



  • The Four Keys

    There are four keys to effective advocacy; knowing what you want; who you're talking to; how to talk to them; and, how to follow up. Let's use the issue of ending cosmetic testing on animals as an example.

    • Know what you want: You want legislators to support legislation prohibiting cosmetic testing
    • Know who you're talking to: You'll deliver this message to legislators with whom you have a constituency connection. And, you'll want to know something about those legislators so you can frame your message in a way that resonates with them.
    • Know how to talk to them: You'll need to develop a compelling story based both on your passion for the issue as well as reason
    • Know how to follow-up: You can't just ask once. You'll need to work with legislators throughout the year to have an impact.

    This section outlines the basics. You'll delve into each as you move forward. Be sure to read the following resources on what influences a legislator, as well as some of the basic do's and don'ts.

  • What Advocates Need to Know About Government

    "I'm just a bill, just a lonely old bill..." Chances are, if you were alive during the 1970's and 1980's, you heard some version of "School House Rock." You know -- the one where the singing bill talks about the legislative process? To be an effective advocate, you'll need to know a little more about a government than that. But don't worry! You don't have to be an expert. You just need to know enough to talk to the right people about the right things at the right time.

  • Knowing What You Want

    Only when you know your specific goal can you be sure that you’re talking to the right audience. Plus, they need to know what you want them to do! This is also known as "the ask".

    Note: While this section refers to Capitol Hill meetings, the principle of "know what you want" can be applied to any advocacy situation

    Remember to review the HSUS Policy Materials in Section 1. These will answer the "what you want" question at the federal level.

  • Who You're Talking To

    Understanding what gets your audience up in the morning, and what keeps them up at night, dramatically increases your effectiveness.
    For example, what committee is your legislator on? What policy issues do they love? Are they conservative or liberal? One message doesn't fit all. Whether you agree with them or not, it's best to be prepared to see the world from their point of view.

  • How to Develop & Deliver Your Story

    You must have your daily acronym in DC. Today's is "SPIT", which stands for Specific, Personal, Informative, and Timely.

    The Message Formula
    Once you've figured out what you want, learned about your audience, and developed your story, now it's time to figure out how to fit all of this into a short communication. The Message Formula should help. This is in the context of a meeting, but can be used as a template for e-mails and phone calls as well.

  • Effective E-mails and Phone Calls

    Should you call, e-mail, or seek a meeting with policymakers? The very first thing you should know is that what you say to policymakers is far more important than how you say it. Assuming that you have developed a compelling, thoughtful, truthful and positive message, you are likely to at least be listened to -- and hopefully have an impact -- however you choose to deliver the message. The overall key for any communication is that it be personalized and relevant.

  • Making Connections at Home & Creating Your Plan

    Following Up
    All the advocacy in the world won't do much good if you're not following up! In this section, you'll learn about site visits, as well as other strategies for follow-up. Use these materials to build your advocacy plans throughout the year.