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Advocacy 101 to teach non-profits about policy influence

WORTHINGTON — Minnesota Council of Nonprofits will host a free event from 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursday in the auditorium at Minnesota West Community & Technical College.

"Advocacy 101" will include strategies non-profits can use to influence public policy.

"Advocacy is a broad range of strategies to advance a cause," said MCN public policy director Marie Ellis. "The event is meant for people who don't think of themselves as being a public policy advocate."

Others who have experience in advocacy are also welcome to attend and network.

MCN southwest regional coordinator Bradley Wolfe said the event will share "what non-profits can do to advocate for themselves and the communities they serve." For example, he explained, lobbyists are not legally allowed to support specific political candidates, but there are many other acceptable ways to support their causes in the legislature. There will be some instruction on the rules governing 501(c)3 organization advocacy.

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Wolfe said lobbyists can act as "stewards of information" for politicians, since they are experts in the specific area addressed by their non-profit, and participants will learn how to do that.

In addition to advocacy, Ellis noted that the session will also address promoting civic engagement, and how non-profits can encourage census participation and voting in 2020.

For MCN, another purpose for holding education sessions is to build relationships with non-profits across the state and to gather information about what different organizations are doing in their communities.

To prepare for Thursday's event, Ellis recommended that each participant consider how to deliver their non-profit's message to local legislators. During the event, participants will have the opportunity to pair off and practice introducing their ideas.

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