The Role of Advocacy
Dear Partners and Friends,
“Foundations don’t fund advocacy.”
This statement was uttered matter-of-factly by a nonprofit partner in a recent conversation. It is something I’ve heard often throughout my career because it’s true. While some progress has been made in recent years, generally speaking there is less funding available for advocacy work than there is for traditional provision of services. Advocacy work is longterm, it’s messy, it doesn’t align neatly with many funders’ desires for quick and easily quantifiable ‘results.’ But the best things in life aren’t tidy or easy and advocacy done well allows us to shape the debate about the systems and structures that promote or detract from people’s opportunities to live healthy lives. If foundations are serious about creating lasting change we must include a focus on advocacy, both in what we fund and how we leverage our voice and reputation in support of the communities we serve.
Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s story began in 1999 thanks to the watchful eye and work of advocates. We would not exist were it not for Georgia’s health advocacy community, and as we move into our next chapter we commit to returning to our roots, centering advocacy as a key component of our work. At the Foundation, our work is to inspire and motivate collective action so that all people have the opportunity to attain their fullest potential for health. We will center the experiences of the people and communities our current systems and structures are not serving equitably, including Black and other racial minorities, rural residents, and those with less access to capital.
In Georgia we have work to do as our Black maternal mortality rate skyrockets, as hospitals across the state close their doors, and as access to a full range of medically appropriate care is restricted for certain Georgians. At the core of the health disparities in our country and in our state are systems that do not provide the same opportunities to all people. To change outcomes, we must make changes to the systems. Effective, lasting systems change requires advocacy that elevates the voices, stories, and experiences of Georgians.
We know there is a strong field of advocacy organizations doing this work every day on behalf of and in partnership with people and communities across our state. We intend to strengthen, amplify, and elevate current voices while also adding our own. We believe there is a role for us to play connecting people and communities, leveraging our voice, and building bridges between organizations doing the work and those who need to know and understand it. As a non-partisan, independent organization with a mission to advance health equity, we believe we have a responsibility to share our perspective which will be squarely focused on what will advance Georgians’ opportunities for health. Bipartisan, cross-sector work, such as recent behavioral health legislation, demonstrates what is possible when Georgians work together to bring action to shared values.
Georgia is full of solutions-seekers: Georgians who care. They are concerned individuals, grassroots organizers, healthcare professionals, policy makers, business leaders, and everyone in between. Their common thread is their search for a healthier, more equitable Georgia. Through our advocacy work we hope to create pathways for those groups to come together across a multitude of issues, creating a Georgia that works for each and every one of us.
Kristy Klein Davis