Leading and Supporting Robust Public Advocacy Campaigns

Julia Thornton, Humanity United

Humanity United is committed to building peace and advancing human freedom – neither of which can prosper when people’s voices are suppressed or their will is ignored. Elevating voice and will, especially those of the marginalized and exploited, is fundamental to Humanity United’s approach. To us as a foundation, this means both leading and supporting robust publicadvocacy campaigns.

One example of this work was a two-year campaign led directly by Humanity United called “Sudan Now,” which sought to amplify the impact of existing advocacy groups by encouraging collaboration and joint action. Beginning in 2009 and concluding in 2011, the campaign brought together seven prominent U.S. human rights organizations around coordinated policy recommendations for the U.S. government. Targeted campaign outreach resulted in a sustained commitment by the administration of President Barack Obama on Sudan policy and engaged nearly 600,000 activists around the world in advocacy efforts targeting U.S. and international leaders.

Another ongoing example where our work serves to elevate marginalized voices is the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), now in its fifth year of operation. ATEST was launched in 2007 to help coalesce groups within the fractured anti-trafficking field around coordinated policy advocacy, primarily at the U.S. federal level. Now consisting of 12 member organizations and full-time Humanity United staff, ATEST helped to secure an increase of nearly $12 million in federal funds to combat human trafficking in fiscal year 2009 and successfully advocated for the bipartisan introduction of a critical U.S. anti-trafficking legislation in 2011.

For Humanity United, these experiences have helped our organization reevaluate the possibilities and potential of not only how a foundation can fund advocacy, but also lead advocacy efforts directly.

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