The Advocacy and Fundraising World
Even just three decades ago, people with diabetes weren't organized to move toward a better future, and because there were few good treatment options for diabetes, many kept their disease a secret. Thanks to the work of parents of kids with diabetes and people with diabetes, however, now there are more options. Before deciding where to volunteer, it's important to know what advocacy and fundraising can mean.
Advocacy in diabetes comes in two types: advocating for issues like patient rights and treatments, and advocating for Congress to vote for bills and funding that will help diabetes research move forward. The first type of advocacy usually is in the form of support groups, online programs, and outreach programs that you'd join to help other families new to diabetes.
Advocacy to encourage Congress to be more supportive of diabetes needs is more about getting your voice heard. Although you may be uncomfortable storming Capitol Hill, it does not have to be that intense.
If you want to advocate, lend your voice to an established group.
There are excellent options when it comes to choosing a strong and proven group, so don't try to reinvent the wheel. Your voice will be louder as part of a recognized and respected team.
Most advocacy groups are constantly building their troops in the field. You can sign on via e-mail to receive alerts that keep you apprised of what is going on in terms of diabetes legislation on Capitol Hill and what you can do. Sometimes, you'll be asked to send a letter or make a phone call. If you'd like, you can even visit legislators to get your point across. Few things are more empowering to a parent than being heard, first person, by his or her nation's leaders. Grass-roots advocacy can help you do just that.
Okay, so you feel funny about it: How can you ask your friends to give you their hard-earned money? The truth is that most friends wish they could find a way to help you, and in the world of kids and diabetes, there are not many options. Asking friends to sign on to walk for your child or to make a donation to a diabetes charity you support may just be the perfect way to help them feel empowered.
Fundraising can also give your child hope. More than a few children, after attending their first Walk to Cure Diabetes event, have told their parents they could just feel a cure in their future. As hard as she has to work every day to stay healthy, a walk or another type of fundraiser reminds your child that the world cares. So how does a family choose an organization to put their advocacy and/or fundraising time behind? It's all about the mission, and it's also about personal choice. Do know, as you decide, that every reputable group in our nation is doing a good job for our kids. As long as it's a well-run organization, you've made the right choice.