Serving Nonprofits. Strengthening West Virginia.

Everyday Advocacy

By on December 22, 2014 in Advocacy & Policy

cynthia-persily-highland-hospitalCynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN  

Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV

At the Highland companies in Charleston, we advocate for patients every day. Our advocacy efforts are with families, with payers, with state agencies, and with organizations who can provide continued services to our patients in the community. Regardless of the type of advocacy effort, the bottom line is that we are serving as champions for our patients and their needs. Today, Gail Carter, Highland Hospital Foundation Development Director, Karen Miller, Highland Hospital Foundation Board Member and I had the privilege to attend the 2014 Policy Institute for Nonprofits and Foundations sponsored by Philanthropy West Virginia and the West Virginia Nonprofit Association. The topic for the day was “Awakening the Giant”—but what does that mean?

Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits put the “giant” in perspective for us.  In West Virginia, approximately 1 in 10 workers work for a non-profit organization. A recent study in Maine demonstrated that 100% of their citizens were impacted in some way by a non-profit—through a variety of sectors—including social, environmental, arts, healthcare, education organizations and others. If we extrapolate those numbers to WV, over one and a half million people are touched in some ways by our nonprofits. This is the giant to who Mr. Delaney was referring—imagine the power if everyone in our state was advocating for nonprofits!

Advocacy is essential at this time in our history. Nonprofits have not fully recovered from the economic recession. In addition to economic stressors, nonprofits like ours suffer from an increased need for services, while resources are dwindling. This stretches all nonprofits to capacity, but especially affects safety net organizations. So how do we advocate on behalf of our patients when we are being stretched to provide an ever increasing number of services with fewer resources? The rest of the conference talked about just this—strategies for advocacy for organizations and boards.

I had the good luck to attend a break out session provided by Helen Matheny of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, and Stephen Smith, Director of the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. They shared advocacy strategies, which included collecting stories, creating a passionate team, deciding about the impact and “winnability” of advocacy efforts, figuring out what you want from your advocacy efforts, having the courage to ask for what you need, and finally, evaluation of your efforts—what went well, what can we do better, and what step can we go back to in our process?  They talked passionately about relationship building, educating decision makers, and patience in the process.

I left today’s conference with a renewed passion for advocacy. Advocacy is a powerful way to leverage our mission—in fact, we were introduced to a campaign called Stand for Your Mission which I will be introducing to our boards and our organizations—we can all advance our mission through advocacy efforts—at the bedside or in the boardroom.

Reposted with permission from Highland Hospital Charleston: CEO Friday Message

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