Welcome back to Government Grand Rounds, where the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) Advocacy Council discusses how sustained advocacy engagement is important for all SVS members.
While “advocacy” continues to rank high among SVS member priorities, many remain unsure how to support SVS advocacy-related programs, what activities are available and how to measure success along the way. This series aims to answer those questions through the many useful tools of advocacy. Last month, the Council shared the importance of perspective and examined how advocacy can be used as a tool to protect. But how do we use that tool and what are the driving factors behind that tool’s effectiveness? One of the key drivers of success in advocacy is engagement.
Many have probably heard of the term “grassroots” before, but what exactly does that mean in the context of advocacy? Grassroots is often defined as “the basic level of society or of an organization” or something that is “basic, fundamental.” In advocacy, we use this term to describe the efforts that every-day citizens go through to help shape the government, often through sending letters to Congress, protesting in public spaces or organizing their own awareness campaign. These efforts are the bread and butter of what it means to advocate.
The SVS engages in grassroots activities through a few programs, designed to connect SVS members with their lawmakers to create tangible channels for vascular surgeons to personally advocate on issues that significantly impact the specialty. The REACH 535 program establishes a concrete mechanism for the SVS to amplify its advocacy efforts by ensuring we can quickly engage with the 535 decision-makers on Capitol Hill. This engagement with lawmakers is what drives change. (Visit vascular.org/REACH535form to sign up for REACH 535.) To create a strong foundation for grassroots advocacy, the SVS needs to establish a culture of engagement. This culture looks like taking the opportunity to engage with lawmakers via Voter Voice, signing up for REACH 535, and donating to the SVS PAC. When we work together to strengthen our collective voice, we simultaneously expand our impact on Capitol Hill.
These facets of engagement, when done together, help to amplify the entirety of the effort. One letter sent may not change the course of a bill, but organized, collective action from thousands of vascular surgeons could permanently alter the trajectory of a proposed policy or pending piece of legislation. For more information on how to engage with the SVS’ advocacy programs, visit vascular.org/advocacy or contact [email protected].
Andrew Kenney is SVS advocacy coordinator.