Understanding Advocacy

9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson young people learn about the tools of advocacy for the common good. They investigate the characteristics of advocates and develop their own personal advocacy style.

PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • define the terms advocacy and common good
  • identify a variety of advocacy strategies.
  1. Jane Goodall’s Biography
  2. Characteristics of Advocates
  3. Personal Advocacy Styles Survey
Teacher Preparation 

Read about the service-learning project called Batty for Bats by students who were facilitated by this Understanding Advocacy lesson.

Home Connection 

Learners interview family members or friends about what they might choose to advocate for.




  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the video clip about a chimpanzee who was rescued by the advocacy of Jane Goodall. "Gregoire’s Story" is found at https://vimeo.com/2565364

    Discuss how the words and actions of Jane Goodall enriched the life of Gregoire and the people who knew him.

  2. Distribute and have the learners take a few minutes to read the handout: Jane Goodall’s Biography

  3. Define the word advocacy as “to write, speak, or act in favor of or support of.” Advocacy is the work of civil society, nonprofit, or volunteer sector. Lead a discussion of Jane Goodall’s work as an example of advocacy for the humane treatment of animals. Why do you think Jane Goodall and her team use their influence in this way? 

  4. Watch and discuss this video about social action. Give examples of advocacy that may or may not have resulted in laws, and ask young people to come up with other examples of advocacy: human rights, anti-war, seat belt laws, banning smoking in public places, leash laws for pets, laws against rooster fighting, pollution devices on cars, recycling practices, Black Lives Matter, local policies, and climate change.

    Discuss the impact of advocacy in terms of contributions to the common good. Define the term common good as “the shared interests of all, or something that benefits society as a whole."

  5. Discuss effective techniques or strategies one might use to advocate for a cause. See the handout below, Characteristics of Advocates. 

  6. Distribute copies of the handout below, Personal Advocacy Styles Survey and have each learner complete the survey. Discuss what they might have discovered about themselves and how that translates to advocacy styles. 

    Discuss how they could use the information in the two handouts to be better advocates and to influence others in their network and community. 

  7. Ask them to reflect on some issues they might be personally interested in advocating for. Write them down on a chart. 

  8. Many young people are great advocates for issues they care about. Do the young people know anyone who is passionate about something and uses their influence to advocate for an issue? For example, some people talk about fairness for groups of people, specific political issues, or about cleaning up local water. To learn more about their community's interests, have learners ask their friends and family what issues they care about enough to ask others to do something. Have them write down the ideas they heard and add them to the chart when they are back together. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
      2. Benchmark HS.9 Explain the role that public interest groups play in public policy formation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.