Credibility Key to Chapter Development
Civic Involvement Will Help Establish Chapter Standing in the Community

By Holly Smith, Advisor
NRLC Field Coordinator

Chapters are filled with people committed to building a culture of life. We as pro-lifers have accomplished much, and our victories have saved lives.

We must never forget for one moment that there are many thousands of babies alive today because their mothers, who initially thought they wanted an abortion, chose life. The life-affirming decision was made, either because educational information was conveyed to these mothers, or because of protective laws that we've passed with the help of pro-life officials the pro-life movement helped to elect.

After a while the community learns that pro-lifers care about both mother and unborn child. They begin to see that we are their neighbors, co-workers, and fellow church members. By our actions we show that we are an active part of the community, people who share the values of its members.

Effective, active organizations get recognized. And when our community really knows who we are and what we do, we have attained an invaluable asset: credibility.

There are many ways to enhance your visibility and your credibility. Some chapters have joined their local chamber of commerce, typically made up of local businesses and associations. This is where local community leaders from many fields and active on a variety of issues come together - - and where you can find leaders sympathetic to the right-to-life cause.

You will be plugged in to the goings-on in your community and have a head start in preparing for community events. Through your chamber of commerce, you will also meet local professionals to volunteer in your efforts. Some may volunteer to be part of your "Speaker's Bureau."

A Speaker's Bureau provides "expert instructors" who are ideal for those teachers and others open to the presentation of the pro-life view. These speakers can contact the schools themselves to volunteer their services. Chapters should focus on high school classes in government, psychology, biology, history, current events, and health, to name a few.

An additional way to get to know pro-life people is by the use of petitions. Petition lists afford pro-lifers a great opportunity to bring the message of life to large numbers of people. The names and information gathered should be utilized as potential supporters and sent to National Right to Life to be added to the national list.

Another important activity should be to approach potential members of Congress or state reps and senators as soon as they indicate any interest in running. You will probably never have a better opportunity to educate a politician on pro-life issues as when he is seeking office for the first time and developing his initial position on issues. You may never have as good a chance to obtain a pro-life commitment as during a tough primary contest. At least annually, and more often if necessary, your chapter's leadership should make a formal appointment with your incumbent representatives, either in the capital or locally in the district office.

Another way to bring your chapter to the community's attention is by helping people register to vote. Have registration cards available at every booth and with every petition for which you solicit signatures.

Another easy way to achieve this is by directing people to www.nrlc.org. They can click on the "Register to Vote" button found on the main page.

Establishing credibility through these programs will give your chapter the access and resources necessary to reach your community with the importance of right-to-life issues. By doing this, you become the voice of the right-to-life movement in your own community, just as National Right to Life is on the federal level and each state Right to Life affiliate is on the state level.

Remember, you can always contact me at (202) 626-8809. Good luck!