Advocacy | Kidney disease | Transplant

What Is Kidney Advocacy and Why Is It So Important?

November 16, 2023, 2:08pm EST

Advocates meeting with office aide

Advocacy has the power to bring people together across all walks of life in pursuit of a common, critical goal: for NKF and its advocates, to put an end to kidney disease. We have big goals to achieve, and we couldn’t do it without our incredible Voices for Kidney Health advocates. 

But what is kidney advocacy?

What is a kidney advocate? 

Generally, an advocate is someone who actively supports, defends, or promotes a particular cause or idea. Advocacy involves using one's voice to bring about positive change, raise awareness, and influence opinions or decisions in the policy arena, either at the local, state, or federal level (or all three!). 

A kidney advocate can be anyone. They could have a personal connection to kidney disease or be a family member, caretaker, dear friend, or a provider who has seen the effects of kidney disease and wants to make a positive change. They could have no personal or professional connection at all! All our advocates need is a passion for making a difference.

Voices for Kidney Health advocates are passionate about expanding access to testing, innovating treatments for people with kidney disease, removing barriers to living organ donation, and promoting our kidney Transplants For All initiative. 

How Kidney Advocates Affect Change

1. Taking Action

Advocates can take action on a wide array of issues facing the kidney community. We’re working towards better access to diagnostic testing, protecting living organ donors from discrimination, and ensuring kidney funding keeps pace with kidney disease. Having an increasing number of advocates participate in our actions conveys a powerful message to their representatives, thereby enhancing the strength of our collective voice. 

See all the ways you can take action

2. District Meetings 

We believe that change starts with your voice. The experiences of those affected by kidney disease are uniquely powerful ways to demonstrate the urgency behind the kidney health agenda. While meeting with members of Congress may sound intimidating, we provide all the talking points and training you’ll need to confidently meet with them. 

Read about our advocate’s recent meetings.

3. Kidney Patient Summit 

Representatives from kidney organizations and advocates from across the nation unite during our annual Kidney Patient Summit, orchestrated and guided by the National Kidney Foundation’s government relations team. During the summit, these dedicated advocates for kidney health enlighten their elected lawmakers and the staff that work for them on the significance of safeguarding living organ donors; expanding funding for federal kidney disease awareness, education, and research initiatives; and enhancing the availability of home dialysis options.

Learn more about Kidney Patient Summit.

4. State Outreach 

Advocates engage not only with federal representatives but also establish connections with legislators at the state level (who often go on to hold elected office at the federal level later in their career). The work of Voices for Kidney Health Advocates has led to enacting Living Donor Protection Act legislation in 31 states and counting. Additionally, our state agenda includes the establishment of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) task forces, to help formulate additional policy solutions, and tax credit bills that incentivize employers and their employees to become living organ donors and give the gift of life. 

Learn more about your state’s kidney laws

How do I become a kidney advocate?

Are you interested in advancing policies to better the lives of people with kidney disease? Join our choir of advocates! There is no time commitment or requirement, you act on policies or issues that speak to you! 

If you have engaged with us before and want to take your advocacy to the next level, consider joining our Kidney Advocacy Committee (KAC)! The KAC is a growing group of 300 dedicated advocates who use their personal experience and expertise to influence policy at the federal and state level. Advocates are not just patients, but living donors, caretakers, healthcare professionals, and families that have been impacted by kidney disease. 

Learn more about our KAC and access the application.

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