Grassroots advocacy is activism that originates among concerned constituents who rally behind issues they feel are not being addressed by government officials with the power and responsibility to act. It involves some level of political activity, with members of the society interacting with elected or appointed officials in an attempt to draw attention to their cause. It also means organizing and educating the community to get more constituents involved in the process. Grassroots advocacy often requires writing or calling officials, and attending meetings and events with elected officials. In short, it’s about constituents joining together to increase their strength and push for change.
Since the formation of the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) in April 2007, we have focused on this one main theme. We have always believed that all politics are local and that changing political minds must begin locally. We have talked about how “relationships at home equal grassroots power.” We realized that without suppliers working as their own lobbyists and developing a personal relationship with their representatives and senators, we would be unable to change the path of public policy for the DME industry.
In a way, grassroots advocacy is a game we must play, and we must now take this sport to another level. This is a contact sport, because without contact with elected and appointed officials we are ineffective. Since many of us are sports fans of some kind, let’s put grassroots advocacy in athletic terms.
The Field of Play
The equipment we need to play this sport is a pen, a computer and a telephone, and the playing field is your local district and state. There are usually one of two away matches in Washington, D.C., each year, and occasionally there will be a round played in the courts. The game starts when you and the constituent community feel that laws and policy decisions that are being made are inconsistent with the greater good of the community.