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Advocate as a Public Folklorist

People walking in a parade in New Orleans, led by musicians and people in costumes

Public Folklorists in Nonprofit Organizations

Need for Advocacy

Public folklorists who work through nonprofit organizations often put their efforts towards obtaining funding and resources that support the cultural life of their community-whatever size that community may be. Organizations may overlook advocacy in favor of projects that seem to more directly and immediately impact their audience. As our case studies demonstrate, however, funding is dependent on relationships and knowledge of need that rest on being ready to advocate, not only in real time, but ahead of time. In this way, public folklorists will be able to more skillfully and effectively campaign for funding or legislative policies that have a lasting impact on both the organization and the community it serves.
Some folklorists may worry about whether they are permitted to conduct advocacy work, especially if they work for a non-profit 50l(c) (3) organization. All nonprofits and their staff have the right to advocate.

Strategies for Advocacy

  • Invite funders (including indirect funders such as legislators who vote on state budgets) to events on a regular basis Sample Invite Letter
  • invite journalists to cover programs and events and include information about funding sources in press releases 
  • Ask members, participants, and clients to write letters of support/post on social media/share invitations to events

The Legality of Lobbying

The Alliance for Justice, located in Washington DC, offers regular “Worry-Free Advocacy Workshops” and access to legal and accounting advice through their Advocacy Lawyers and Accountants Network (ALAN.) Some organizations may be able to obtain pro-bono legal assistance more locally. . Outside of DC, nonprofits can apply for pro bono legal counsel through ProBono Partnership.

For examples of other nonprofits who have benefitted from collaborating with lobbyists, see: Lobbyists Feel Good By Doing Good .

Finally, here are guides for Senate lobbying and lobbying at the US House of Representatives.

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