Returning to the Hill as Global Fund advocates
As a brand new staff member on the Policy team, I jumped into this year’s busy appropriations season head first in April. At times, getting up to speed on our issues felt like trying to drink from a firehose, poring over a stream of never-ending articles and fact sheets. But at our first in-person event in years–and my first ever RESULTS event–I was able to see the very real impact that our work has.
RESULTS grassroots advocates came to DC from all over the country for three days of advocacy prep and education on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Staff members led sessions on the Global Fund, lobbying best practices, and much more. And the event culminated with a day of congressional advocacy for the Global Fund.
Throughout the weekend, I was able to get to know many of the volunteers and learn what brought them to RESULTS. Everyone had a different story, from years in the Peace Corps or military, to experience as doctors and teachers, to viewpoints shaped from being parents or students. And despite the many differences, everyone shared a similar passion and excitement about being together as Global Fund advocates.
It was powerful to see how everyone used their unique perspectives to connect with the crises the Global Fund aims to solve. True, many of us haven’t lived outside the United States or been sick with tuberculosis, but we’ve all seen loved ones struggle with illness and access to health care. Not everyone is a policy expert, but we were all able to understand the importance of global health.
On Monday, as I worked with a group of volunteers from Pennsylvania, I saw them putting the skills they learned into practice. They planned for their meetings by creating agendas, assigning roles, and preparing for anything the Hill could throw at them. And when the meetings with staffers and Members of Congress kicked off on Tuesday, all their hard work paid off.
Beneath the mix of excitement and nerves, I could see the confidence that came from several days of preparation. Our advocates were able to weave together information about the Global Fund, details about our funding asks, and stories that emphasized emotional impact. They were incredibly successful, with many groups strengthening existing relationships or forming new bonds with their congressional offices.
Participating in this event and getting to know our grassroots volunteers made me even more excited to be a part of this amazing network. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed with data and statistics. But to be an advocate, you don’t need to have years of policy research under your belt. All you need is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
Whether you’ve never attended a RESULTS or you’re an expert advocate, I hope to see you at one of our upcoming Advocacy month events. It’s a truly special experience to see how the relationships we form can have the power to influence policy and lead to very real impacts around the world.