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Converting friends to advocates

February 19 2011 | Activism,
by Jim

Think about your friends. They include people you used to work with, people you spend time with on weekends... it's a diverse group. We all know some friends are closer than others. Some will listen to you and spend time to hear what's on your mind. If you're doing a walk to raise money for breast cancer, they'll listen. Now think about those that do more. These are people that will not only invest the time to hear you, they will come alongside you... they'll adopt the issue you care about as their own. They'll become an advocate for that cause. Converting friends to advocates isn't easy. In fact it's hard. It's hard because there are a plethora of subjects and causes competing for our collective attention and resources. Yet converting friends to advocates is exactly what we try to do. If we care about an issue enough to invest ourselves in it AND we have friends that are really close to us... a natural extension of this is for us to share our passion with them. If a single word could capture Surfrider's focus in 2011 it is "conversion." We have, literally, hundreds of thousands of friends. These are people that follow us on Twitter, Soup (our digital newsletter), Facebook, etc. This isn't a group of anonymous people, we know who they are. They spend about 20 minutes a month with us. They... listen to us. And, like you, we have a smaller group that is closer. We have tens of thousands of advocates. These are people that engage in our mission at a deeper level. That may be by joining as a member, coming to chapter events or participating on one of our 100+ coastal environmental campaigns. We love our friends. But if we're honest... we love our closest friends more. We love them more because they invest in us at a deeper level. They not only learn what we care about, they come alongside us. If we're going to walk to raise funds for breast cancer, they'll donate. They may even walk the miles with us. Surfrider is made up of people, all over the world, that are connected to their local coasts. They love the coasts and work at varying levels to make sure those coasts stay healthy. Let's be intentional about the conversion process. Let's help our friends do more than just listen to us about the problems with single use plastics... let's ask them to come alongside us and refuse plastic bags at the grocery. Let's work together to make the group of ocean advocates as large as it possibly can... and let's do so for our oceans, waves and beaches.
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