The Rise of Digital Advocacy During COVID-19

When the spread of COVID-19 caused the world to shut down, people had to figure out how to continue to work and socialize. People turned to social media to help them stay in touch with others. Companies used web-based meeting apps to meet with clients, staff, or other groups.


The pivot towards social media and web-based meeting apps helped revolutionize how people could come together. One of the benefits was the rise of digital advocacy.

Advocacy Before COVID-19

Professionals and volunteers perform advocacy work. Advocacy groups work to raise awareness of the causes, ideas, or policies they want implemented. Many of these organizations can be found in local, state, or national settings. Before COVID-19, those rooted in the community had in-person meetings at regular intervals. Volunteers were at times unable to attend meetings or activities because of work, family obligations, or financial constraints.

Advocacy During COVID-19

COVID-19 reshaped how advocates could work and meet. Almost immediately after the COVID-19 social isolation regulations and quarantine, private, nonprofit, and government agencies worked to develop virtual access. Web-based apps were employed for meetings. These apps helped connect people and allowed the business to continue.

Web-based apps serve another purpose. Government agencies realized they could use the apps to stay in touch with advocacy groups. Congresspeople understood they needed to remain connected to the groups to get much-needed information. Advocacy groups could also contact their elected officials through virtual conferences or phone.

The ease of accessibility to business and government leaders supported the work of advocates, ensuring their voices and concerns were heard despite the social isolation regulations. Advocacy was more accessible for professionals and volunteers to engage in.

Conferences: In-person vs. Virtual

Advocacy groups’ annual conferences were once attended by those who could afford to go. The travel, the event fee, and other incidental expenses were prohibitive. COVID-19 shutdowns shifted the conferences from in-person to virtual. This shift opened the door for those who couldn’t travel but could attend virtually. The practice of virtual conference attendance remains even after the COVID-19 social isolation regulations were eased and removed. Because of digital advocacy, advocates could stay active and participate in conferences.

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Inclusion Through Digital Advocacy

Digital advocacy serves a vital purpose: inclusion. The Pew Research Center states, “42.5 million people live with a disability. Approximately 30 million are eligible voters.” People with disabilities are ranked as one of the largest groups of voters. However, they are inadequately represented at the polls.

Organizations such as the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, New Disabled South, and Disability Victory provide access and the tools for people to engage in digital advocacy. For example, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation equips advocates with the tools needed to advocate for those with paralysis successfully. The Foundation’s website explains how an advocate can have their voice heard through contacting their legislator. With helpful tips for “Building productive relationships” and how to raise awareness through avenues such as social media, people can become advocates from the comfort of their homes.


COVID-19 opened the door for more people to become involved in advocacy work. The shift to virtual meetings and social media supported the rise of digital advocacy. Because of digital advocacy, people can follow their passions or beliefs to advocate for what they believe in.

Christina Sisti, DPS, MPH, MS, is a bioethicist and health care policy advocate. She works to create awareness and improve healthcare policy for those with long-term health issues.

About the Author - Reeve Staff

This blog was written by the Reeve Foundation for educational purposes. For more information please reach out to

Reeve Staff

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

This publication was supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as part of a financial assistance award totaling $160,000 with 100% funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS or the U.S. government.