Back to Basics for Congressional District Visits and Candidate ForumsOctober 4, 2018
In advance of the November 6, 2018 mid-term election when Americans will vote to fill federal, state, and local offices, human service organizations will have opportunities to meet with Members of Congress during their district visits and attend candidate forums.
The House of Representatives recesses for a district work period from October 12 until November 13 and the Senate will be in recess for a state work period October 29 through November 12. These district visits offer human service organizations a chance to schedule meetings and present well-framed, jargon-free policy agendas and priorities.
Additionally, federal, state and local candidates for office usually host town halls, forums, or other public events during the run-up to elections. Be prepared with well-framed and concise questions and talking points on relevant, timely human service issues. If you have a relationship with your local news outlet’s editorial board or political reporters, provide them with framed questions to ask candidates.
To reframe your organization’s policy communications, apply the Building Well-Being Narrative to your priority objectives:
- Lead with the widely held value that our communities benefit when everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
- Explain how human services help us fulfill that value by building and maintaining well-being, and rebuilding it when it is damaged.
- Describe how human services build well-being over the course of a lifetime, using specific examples that include prevention, intervention, research, and advocacy.
For examples of policy communications that have been reframed, see:
- National Human Service Assembly’s talking points on immigration and budget and tax policy.
- Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ Federal Public Policy Agenda.
- One Voice Central Texas’ Advocacy Principles.
- Illinois Partners for Human Service’s Advocacy Day Talking Points.
- The Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York’s Talking Points, developed by the Human Services Council.
The FrameWorks Institute offers several election-related resources to help organizations understand the dominant narratives advanced in American political discourse that trigger “traps” in public thinking and build the public’s understanding of what the sector does and how society benefits from its work through a long-term, solutions-focused movement:
- “How to Think Differently About Communication: Your Nonprofit’s Role in Reframing the Post-Election Discourse,” by FrameWorks’ Nat Kendall-Taylor and Susan Nall Bales in Nonprofit Quarterly provides an analysis of the cultural models that monopolized public thinking (self-makingness, separate fates, business knows best) following the 2016 election and offers recommendations for re-engaging the public in more productive conversations.
- Reframing Social Issues Before, During, and After an Election: An Essential Guide for 501c(3) Communicators, FrameWorks and Nonprofit Quarterly’s 2016 webinar that explains traditional narratives and how to overcome them.
- FrameWorks’ extensive research shows that the Building Well-Being Narrative improves support across the political ideological spectrum.
- Finding a Reasonable Tone offers tips for communicating with a reasonable, can-do tone to establish a productive, solutions-oriented dialogue.
Tell us how your organization is applying framing to communications with officeholders and candidates, or send questions, to Bridget Gavaghan, Director, National Reframing Initiative.
The FrameWorks Institute recently announced that it will be publishing findings “on how to communicate more effectively about how adolescent development works and what we can do to improve adolescents’ outcomes” from research supported by the Funders for Adolescent Science Translation. In the meantime, Frameworks offers research and recommendations around adolescent development, and specific issues such as juvenile justice.
Additionally, Frameworks highlighted The Center for Parent and Teen Communication (CPTC) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s new website that provides information and recommendations about adolescent development and parent-teen communication. CPTC research shows that adolescent development represents potential and opportunity for growth that needs to be cultivated by family and community, in contrast to the popular misconception that it is a difficult, stressful period that must merely be tolerated.