Working from within provides experience, expertise, and legitimacy. People whose career moved in professional or managerial paths have a vital role in advocacy. This includes people with a variety of roles: appointed or elected leaders, professional staff, even consultants, advisors, or “special commission” members.
There are many ways in which an inside-outside Advocacy partnership is the strategic route to success. The initial protest stages of an Advocacy campaign is almost always started by outsiders critical of what a public agency or private corporation is doing. Similarly, building the political will to force an organization to change its policy and mission often must be via an end-run around a particularly resistant agency’s staff or political leadership. Even at these times, however, internal friends can help open doors by insisting that “they’ve got a point; maybe we can lower the temperature by talking.”
It is also enormously helpful, even in those early stages, to have inside allies who can feed information or sometimes even make public statements validating the protestor’s claims. And once the campaign moves into pushing -- negotiating for specific policy, programmatic, or operational changes -- having an internal champion can make the process much more productive. Outside pressure can raise the visibility and priority of changes that inside reformers would, themselves, like to implement. Should the campaign succeed in triggering actual implementation, inside leadership is a necessity.
But there is also a role for internal activists even during quiet periods of business-as-usual. At a minimum, people on the inside can help their organizations do better by serving as a bridge to outside perspectives. At a maximum, they can push for improvements even in the absence of outside pressure.