Local Community Advocacy: Using Storytelling to Influence Policymakers

Storytelling can be a powerful and motivating communication tool when building relationships with elected officials, particularly at the local level. This session will focus on strategies for crafting and delivering an effective data-informed message that will be memorable to elected officials and support your nonprofit’s advocacy goals.

The second of a two-part series on advocacy, this session begins with highlights from the first session on the basics of building relationships with policymakers (view the full meeting recording online). This is followed by a moderated panel conversation that share, using real-life examples, key elements, and tips for creating a compelling story with data tailored to your audience. The panel includes leaders from three leading Hudson Valley nonprofit organizations and an Ulster County Legislator, who shares his experience as an elected official. Improve your advocacy by listening to this informed and interactive session.

Moderator: Doug Sauer, Independent Advisor, NYCON
Subject Expert: Vincent Marrone, Principal at Public Strategies, LLC

  • Susan Abbott, Director of Grant Programs, ArtsWestchester
  • Yvette Bairan, Chief Executive Officer, Astor Services
  • Peter Criswell, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center and Ulster County Legislator representing District 7, City of Kingston


And see additional resources below:

Local Community Advocacy: Building Relationships and Influencing Policymakers

Building and maintaining strong relationships with local policymakers requires nonprofits to be a proactive resource of reliable information on community needs and trends, your programs, and the financial and organizational challenges you face. Advocacy and particularly lobbying can be intimidating to board members and staff given the partisan political environment and perceived regulatory restraints. Municipal and county governments, however, are accessible to local nonprofits and can leverage their influence in many ways and over time to benefit nonprofits’ missions and organizational well-being.

This session, the first of a two-part series, begins with a panel conversation focused on successful strategies for developing a working relationship with local officials. The panel shares real-life Hudson Valley examples of nonprofits successfully navigating local advocacy opportunities and challenges, including lessons learned. Participants will learn the basics as to when advocacy work crosses the lobbying threshold as regulated by the state and the IRS and what that means for reporting.

Moderator – Doug Sauer, Independent Advisor, NYCON
Subject Expert – Vincent Marrone, Principal at Public Strategies, LLC, to present and respond to related regulatory matters.
Panel – Nonprofit leaders representing human services & arts/culture organizations soon to be named


Mission and More: the Economic Power of the Hudson Valley’s Nonprofit Sector


Andrea Reynolds – President & CEO, Dyson Foundation
Doug Sauer – New York Council of Nonprofits
Chelsea Newhouse – Report Researcher
Yvette Bairan – CEO, Astor Services

Every person in the Hudson Valley benefits in one way or another from the mission-related work and advocacy of the region’s nonprofit organizations. While individual nonprofits work to demonstrate their impact, the sector as a whole has a unique and timely message: nonprofits generate significant economic activity and jobs that form the bedrock of our communities.

Too often, decision-makers are not aware of the true impact of the charitable nonprofit sector, despite depending on it to deliver critical services. To help nonprofit leaders and their champions make the case for the economic impact of the nonprofit sector, the Hudson Valley Funders Network commissioned Mission and More, a report that provides regional and country-specific facts that you can use to demonstrate the scope, scale, and economic impact of the sector while making the case for increased investment in your mission.

To learn more, join the Hudson Valley Funders Network and guest speakers for an informative and interactive webinar. Speakers will provide highlights from the report, a demonstration of the county dashboards, and guidance on how you can use the report as a tool to educate and inform your audiences.