Nothing is really work unless you'd rather be doing something else.
-- Peter Pan
Advocacy is hard work. Celebrating your successes is not optional – it is just as important as evaluation of your efforts. Even if it seems that there is nothing to celebrate – find something -- things could always be worse.
As we were planning an anniversary party during a year when consumers’ access to health care had been decimated, an advocate asked why we would plan a party when we lost. I responded that this is exactly when you need a party. Winning is its own reward but keeping up sprits when you lose is a challenge.
• Celebration doesn’t have to be expensive, but you should not scrimp either. Make morale boosting a part of your advocacy planning, and part of your organization’s advocacy budget.
• Figure out who needs the celebration and focus on their needs. Don’t wine and dine the Board of Directors if it’s the line staff that are feeling the stress. Think about who needs to be thanked and focus on them.
• Don’t make celebrating a burden. If going to yet another social event is not fun for your advocates, respect that. Be creative. If you’re not sure what they would like – ask them. Some ideas:
o get them a small gift -- boxes of chocolates are always popular
o a personalized letter of thanks
o a plaque
o a picture-taking session with a VIP
o good press – a thank you letter to the editor
o gift certificates
o surprise “early dismissal” on a beautiful sunny day
o an office “field trip” to the movies or miniature golfing
o bringing in lunch from a new restaurant
• Make the event special, but appropriate, for your celebrants. If your advocates would be more comfortable and relaxed at a picnic, do that rather than a black tie event.
• Don’t try to make the celebration serve other functions, e.g. awards to VIPs, fundraising, a media event, etc. If you set up too many goals for one event, you won’t accomplish any of them and your advocates won’t feel special.
• Thank the people who help create the celebration – this is work, too!