Advocacy Strategies Handbook Draft 7.24.11

ADVOCACY STRATEGIES HANDBOOK Advocacy Training & Resource Center Public International Law & Policy Group July 2011 © Copyright Public International Law and Policy Group, 2009 The Public International Law & Policy Group encourages the use of this document. Any part of the material may be duplicated with proper acknowledgment.


Handbook for advocacy

Transcript of Advocacy Strategies Handbook Draft 7.24.11

Advocacy Strategies Handbook

Advocacy Training & Resource Center

Public International Law & Policy Group

July 2011

advocacy campaign handbook

Executive Summary

The overarching goal of an advocacy campaign is to influence decision-makers in order to enact change that will benefit the lives of the public, particularly the politically, economically, and socially disenfranchised. Grassroots advocacy is advocacy by the people; it strives to increase the capacity of local communities by giving a voice to community members. Thus, advocacy can be performed by people directly affected by an issue or by people and organizations advocating on behalf of an affected population.

The first step in planning an advocacy campaign is to identify the issues that your campaign will seek to address. Once you have identified and thoroughly analyzed your target issues, you may decide to cut the issues in order to reduce the scope of your advocacy campaign and focus your efforts on particular areas where change can actually be achieved.

When the issue has been identified and researched, you commence the planning process of the advocacy campaign by establishing goals, objectives, indicators, stakeholders, targets, and activities. You begin by setting the goals and objectives of the advocacy campaign: goals articulate the desired change in policies or practices that you wish to achieve; and objectives define specifically what you will accomplish, with whom, how, and in what period of time. Setting objectives enables you to clarify what you are trying to achieve, and assists you in planning and designing your advocacy activities.

After articulating your goals and objectives, the next step in planning your advocacy campaign is to identify indicators signs that let you know that you are making progress toward your objectives. Once you have identified your indicators of success, you should turn your attention towards identifying the stakeholders in and targets of your advocacy campaign. A stakeholder is anyone who has a direct interest in the outcome of your advocacy campaign, including allies, neutrals, and opponents. Any stakeholder with a high degree of influence over your issue becomes a target of your advocacy campaign. After you have identified your targets, define and clarify your campaigns message, and frame it based on your particular target audience.

The next step in advocacy campaign planning is to select your activities. The best activities are participatory, cost-effective, and reach as many people as possible particularly the poorest and most disenfranchised. They include: policy research, lobbying, demonstrations, watchdog activities, flyers, websites, networking, meetings, newsletters, petitions, negotiations, press conferences, strikes, poetry contests, marches, surveys, theater, court cases, poster campaigns, talk shows, round tables, workshops, negotiations, trainings, TV or radio drama, door to door solicitation, letter writing, interviews, public forums, press releases, mediation, exposure tours, and press briefings.

After a thorough analysis of your goals, objectives, indicators, message, resources, stakeholders, targets, and activities, the next step is to create an advocacy campaign action plan, which helps to consolidate your thoughts and efforts into a concise framework for your advocacy campaign. Once your advocacy campaign action plan is complete, it is time to begin implementing your campaign activities. Throughout the advocacy campaign, and after the campaign has ended, you should monitor and evaluate the campaign in order to reveal both its successes and failures. In the end, you hope to find that your advocacy campaign has helped to directly improve peoples lives.

Copyright Public International Law and Policy Group, 2009The Public International Law & Policy Group encourages the use of this document. Any part of the material may be duplicated with proper acknowledgment.advocacy campaign handbook

Statement of Purpose 1Introduction 1

What is Advocacy? 1Advocacy1Grassroots Advocacy2Who Does Advocacy?4Roles of an AdvocateGood Advocacy PracticesThe Three Spheres of Influence

The Advocacy Cycle6Identify the Issue6What is an Issue?8What is a Good Advocacy Issue?10Analyze Your Issue10Cut the Issue11Research the Issue11Plan13Set GoalsSet ObjectivesIdentify IndicatorsIdentify StakeholdersIdentify TargetsDefine the MessageAssess ResourcesChoose ActivitiesCreate Advocacy Campaign Action Plan13Act13Monitor & Evaluate14Monitoring14Evaluating


About the Public International Law & Policy Group 27

Advocacy campaign handbook

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this handbook is to provide the starting point for an advocacy campaign handbook that Kosovars can use to advocate for change within their society.


Advocacy campaigns are implemented by individuals, organizations, and civil society groups in order to effect change on a particular issue or set of issues. The overarching goal is to influence decision-makers to enact change that will benefit the lives of the politically, economically, or socially disenfranchised. A successful advocacy campaign first entails identifying an issue or problem for your campaign to tackle, and researching that issue. Next, a good advocate plans out the advocacy campaign, including by setting goals and objectives; identifying indicators, stakeholders, and targets; defining and clarifying the message; assessing available resources; and choosing a series of activities through which to achieve the campaigns goals. This plan is then memorialized in a flexible Advocacy Campaign Action Plan, which helps to consolidate the advocates thoughts and efforts into a framework for the advocacy campaign. Once the planning stage is complete, the advocate then takes action to implement the plan. Throughout the advocacy campaign, and after the campaign has ended, a good advocate monitors and evaluates the campaign in order to reveal both its successes and failures. In the end, the advocate hopes to find that her advocacy campaign has helped to directly improve peoples lives.

What is Advocacy?


Advocacy means taking action to create the change you would like to see.[endnoteRef:1] It entails a strategic set of actions designed to influence those who hold power whether governmental, political, economic, or private to implement or change public policies or practices in order to benefit the politically and economically disadvantaged.[endnoteRef:2] An advocacy campaign is a long-term set of activities that includes research, planning, acting, monitoring, and evaluating advocacy efforts.[endnoteRef:3] [1: WaterAid, The Advocacy Sourcebook 11 (Sept. 2007), available at (Hereafter WaterAid).] [2: Victoria Ayer and Colin Bunn, The Advocacy Expert Series, Book 1: Advocacy Campaign Management 2 (March 2004), available at (Hereafter Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series); Pact Tanzania, Advocacy Expert: Civil Society and Advocacy, 6 (2005) (Hereafter Pact Tanzania).] [3: Ibid.]

Generally speaking, advocacy campaigns are designed to achieve positive change through some combination of: (1) influencing public policy and practice; (2) influencing corporate policy and practice; (3) influencing public attitudes and behavior; (4) influencing decision-making processes so that affected communities are involved; and (5) empowering affected communities to influence the decisions that affect them.[endnoteRef:4] [4: Ian Chandler, Advocacy and Campaigning: How To Guide, 2 (July 2010), available at (Hereafter Chandler).]

Grassroots Advocacy

Grassroots advocacy strives to increase the capacity of local communities by giving a voice to community members, particularly those who are disempowered and vulnerable. The goal of grassroots advocacy is to increase a communitys awareness of its right to be heard and its confidence to assert that right. To do so, grassroots advocacy involves local communities and leaders to the greatest extent possible in advocacy work. Characteristics of successful grassroots advocacy include: (1) community leaders that can articulate on behalf of the people they represent; (2) means through which community leaders can communicate information to those with the power to change policy; and (3) the successful flow of information from governments, agencies, and other actors such as the media about issues that affect the community, and about the current processes that exist for involvement. Grassroots advocacy requires recognition that people and communities have existing knowledge and ways of working together. Thus, instead of merely transferring advocacy tools and expertise, advocates must recognize, understand, and tap existing capacity.[endnoteRef:5] [5: WaterAid.]

Who Does Advocacy?

Advocacy can be performed by the people who are directly affected by the issue. Those who are directly affected have the most legitimate voice and are in the best position to negotiate compromises. Outsiders can play a supporting role by helping affected communities to be their own advocates, but, whenever possible, leadership and decision-making should stay with the community. At the other extreme, people and organizations not directly affected by the issue can advocate on behalf of those who are affected. This form of advocacy is especially effective and possibly safer in areas where human rights are not well-respected. However, affected communities should be consulted on the solutions being recommended and the methods of advocacy being used. Affected communities and outside organizations may already be advocating on the same or similar issues, in which case closer collaboration between them may be beneficial. However, those with power should ensure that they are not dominating the process; affected communities should be equal partners in decision-making on the issue agenda, objectives, and strategies.[endnoteRef:6] [6: Ian Chandler, p. 3.]

Roles of an Advocate

There are many different roles an advocate can play. Which role an advocate chooses depends upon who the advocate is, what change the advocate is trying to achieve, and the avenues available for implementing change. An advocate can: (1) negotiate or bargain for something; (2) accompany or speak with the people; (3) empower or enable the people to speak for themselves; (4) represent or speak for the people; (5) mediate or facilitate communication between people; (6) model or demonstrate behavior to people or policymakers; (7) network or build coalitions. If an advocate is advocating on behalf of another, he or she should be sensitive to the needs and desires of the affected group in order to select the role that best fits the circumstances.[endnoteRef:7] [7: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.]

Good Advocacy Practices

The following are a set of good advocacy practices that every advocate whether a member of the affected group, or advocating on behalf of an affected group should follow:

(1) Encourage participation Involve as many people as possible in decision-making during the advocacy campaign because each participant will bring different skills, contacts, resources, and ideas.(2) Ensure legitimacy Advocacy campaigns must earn the trust of the people and communities they represent by respecting the variety of opinions and experiences present.(3) Be accountable Openly and honestly discuss the campaigns progress and problems with all involved and affected.(4) Act peacefully Do not use violence to achieve your advocacy goals; it is never a sustainable, long-term solution. Peaceful advocacy will earn the trust and respect of both your supporters and your opponents.(5) Represent the affected group Listen to the affected group, develop a strategy with them, inform them of any risks or challenges, and take action together. Whenever possible, help build their capacity to advocate on their own behalf.[endnoteRef:8] [8: Ibid.]

The Three Spheres of Influence

Ideally, all societies have three spheres of influence: the state, the private sector, and civil society. In a working democracy, the three spheres share power and work together. Effective advocacy can strengthen relationships between the three different spheres of society and improve the accountability of government institutions.[endnoteRef:9] [9: Ibid.]

The state is made up of public entities working to advance public interests, including government officials, bureaucrats, the military, schools, the police, and the courts. The private sector consists of private people and organizations, including corporations, small businesses, and the media, working to advance private interests.[endnoteRef:10] Civil society is the space in which policy dialogue occurs outside of formal politics.[endnoteRef:11] It is composed of private citizens and organizations working together to advance public interests, including NGOs, community-based organizations, professional associations, philanthropic and religious organizations, academic institutions, the media, workers unions, and both ordinary and elite individuals.[endnoteRef:12] Civil society actors can initiate advocacy, can be the targets of advocacy campaigns, or can be used as a medium to target others. [10: Ibid.] [11: Advocacy Academy, A Practical Guide to Advocacy Campaigns: The Romanian Experience, 6 (2007), available at (Hereafter Advocacy Academy).] [12: Pact Tanzania, p. 4.]

*This could be a good place for the graphic to be included*

The Advocacy Cycle

Identify the Issue

The first step in planning an advocacy campaign is to identify the issues that your campaign needs to address.[endnoteRef:13] To do that, you must identify, analyze, categorize, and prioritize the issues that affect the people that your advocacy campaign strives to help. Once identified and prioritized, these issues will serve as a thematic map for your advocacy activities.[endnoteRef:14] [13: WaterAid.] [14: Advocacy Academy, p. 10.]

What is an Issue?

For advocates, an issue is a negative situation often deep-rooted affecting a specific group of people. Issues caused by government policies or social practices usually cannot be solved by one individual; thus, affected communities need advocates to help address issues and offer solutions. A good advocacy issue is focused enough so that it can be linked to a clear policy or political situation and can easily be communicated to many people.[endnoteRef:15] The first step in preparing for our advocacy campaign is to identify these issues and educate ourselves about their causes and effects.[endnoteRef:16] [15: Pact Tanzania, p. 10.] [16: Midwest Academy, Checklist for Choosing an Issue, available at]

What is a Good Advocacy Issue?

In choosing which issue or issues to shape your advocacy campaign around, ask yourself: Will working on the issue . . .

(1) Result in real improvement in peoples lives?(2) Give people a sense of their own power? (3) Alter the relations of power?(4) Be widely and deeply felt?(5) Build lasting organizations and alliances?(6) Provide opportunities for women and others to learn about and be involved in politics?(7) Develop new leaders or develop skills in existing ones?(8) Promote awareness of, and respect for, rights?(9) Link local concerns with larger-scale, even global, issues?(10) Provide potential for raising funds?(11) Enable the organization to further its vision and mission?(12) Be winnable?(13) And, does the issue have a clear target, timeframe, and policy solution?[endnoteRef:17] [17: Lisa VeneKlasen and Valerie Miller, A New Weave of Power, People & Politics: The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation, 12 (2002), available at (Hereafter VeneKlasen and Miller); WaterAid; Checklist for Choosing an Issue, available at]

Analyze Your Issue Once you have identified the issues that you are most concerned with, and have collected the relevant information about them, the next step in the advocacy planning cycle is to thoroughly analyze your issues. By analyzing your issues, you can identify how best to influence them and which stakeholders are best placed to produce that influence. There are a number of ways to analyze an issue; each method aims to break the issue down into smaller parts. Breaking an issue into smaller parts helps you to understand the issue, the context in which the issue operates, and how you can effect change.[endnoteRef:18] This memorandum will describe two methods for analyzing an issue: the Problem Analysis Framework and the Problem Tree. [18: WaterAid.]

The Problem Analysis Framework[endnoteRef:19] This method of analysis focuses on splitting an issue into a list of sub-issues. Within each sub-issue, you then examine the causes and consequences of the problem, as well as any possible solutions. In order to develop a full analysis of the problem, repeatedly ask yourself, Why?[endnoteRef:20] [19: Valerie Miller & Jane Covey, Advocacy Sourcebook: Frameworks for Planning, Action & Reflection (1997).] [20: WaterAid.]



Sub-issue 1

Sub-issue 2

Sub-issue 3

Problem Tree[endnoteRef:21] Problem tree analysis is a visual method of analyzing a particular problem by physically illustrating its causes and effects. The problem tree enables you to visualize the links between the main issue, its resulting problems, and its root causes.[endnoteRef:22] If you imagine that the most important problem is the trunk of the tree, you can then picture all of the related effects growing out like branches. The problem tree will likely have deep, root causes which feed the trunk and branches.[endnoteRef:23] Thus, the trees trunk represents the core issue or problem; its roots represent the causes of the problem; and its branches represent the effects of the problem.[endnoteRef:24] [21: Daniel Start and Ingie Hovland, Tools for Policy Impact: A Handbook for Researchers, 24-25 (2004), available at] [22: WaterAid.] [23: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.] [24: WaterAid.]

In order to create a problem tree: (1) Draw the shape of the tree on a large chart, and write the key problem or issue on the trunk of the tree; (2) On smaller pieces of paper or card, write down the causes of the problem, to be placed on the tree as its roots; (3) On other cards, write down the consequences that result from the main issue, and place them on the tree as its leaves. In a group, you can debate with one another about the priority and placement of different leaves and roots. The heart of the exercise is the discussion, debate, and dialogue generated as factors are arranged and rearranged.[endnoteRef:25] [25: Ibid.]

The next step in the problem tree analysis is to break down the causes of the problem, so that you can see where your advocacy will have the most effect. To do so, take one of the key root (cause) cards, and make it the trees trunk (key problem). You can now analyze that problems causes in the same way in order to identify areas where you can have influence.[endnoteRef:26] You will need to prioritize to determine which are the most important, and which can be realistically solved by your advocacy. The most important problems are the ones that, if solved, will directly lead to better lives for affected persons.[endnoteRef:27] [26: Ibid.] [27: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.]

Cut the Issue[endnoteRef:28] [28: The Change Agency, Training Resources: Strategy, Cutting the Issue, available at (last visited May 17, 2011).]

Cut the issue to narrow down bigger picture problems into more manageable parts and to help define your goals. Cutting the issue helps to reduce the scope of an advocacy campaign to focus efforts on where change can actually be achieved. It also helps to transform a potentially daunting and complex problem into one or more bite-sized issues, for which you can realistically consider making a difference. Reducing the scope of a problem through creative brainstorming can also help you consider the relative merits of different approaches you might take; for instance, you can cut an issue to maximize its immediacy in the community, guard your campaign against claims of extremism, or appeal to different allies and constituents.

Cutting the issue can be achieved through the Problem Analysis Framework and the Problem Tree described above. In order to cut your issue, first think of a significant problem you would like to address, and then, consider how to cut this bigger problem into smaller issues that appeal to different targets, community groups, or other audiences.

Research the Issue

Once you have identified your issues, it is necessary to thoroughly research them. A detailed understanding of the issues you will be advocating on is vital in the early stages of the advocacy planning cycle.[endnoteRef:29] Many campaigns make the mistake of implementing advocacy activities without first researching the problem.[endnoteRef:30] Only with research can you create a sound and persuasive argument and provide the evidence to back it up, giving your advocacy positions credibility. Furthermore, research provides the information you need to properly plan, develop your messages, and lobby. Research can also assist you in building alliances with both policymakers and community members as you gather information you need from other organizations and individuals.[endnoteRef:31] [29: WaterAid; Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 11.] [30: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 11.] [31: WaterAid.]

Fortunately, there is already a wealth of information available on the internet, in libraries, in government departments, and NGOs to aid you in your research. However, there is no substitute for hearing and learning directly from the group affected by your issue, including through questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and focus groups.[endnoteRef:32] Your research should: (1) analyze the issue; (2) analyze the context in which the issue takes place; and (3) understand the timeframe of your advocacy on the issue. The research itself should be objective, representative of all viewpoints on the issue, accurate and reliable, and methodical and systematic.[endnoteRef:33] A good advocate asks and answers the following questions during the research phase of the advocacy campaign: [32: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 11.] [33: WaterAid.]

(1) What information do you need? Where are the gaps in your knowledge?(2) Where can you find the information? You should identify sources where information already exists: in reports, government consultations, statistics, or other project plans. Always consider whether this secondary information is credible, reliable, and current. In some cases, you may have to collect primary information yourself from original sources. You may, for instance, identify the need to conduct a field survey, interviews, or an investigation. (3) Who will contribute to your research? If you are going to conduct primary research, you will need to identify who to interview or survey, and ensure that the research group is a representative sample. (4) How will you collect the information? Through interviews, questionnaires, observation, statistical analysis, or another data collection tool?(5) How will you analyze and present the information? After collecting your information, you will need to collate it in a systematic way in order to enable yourself to analyze it properly, look for patterns, and deepen your understanding of the situation. You should then write up your findings; the process of writing up your results will help you to analyze the information and draw conclusions.[endnoteRef:34] [34: Ibid.]

Research Methods Table[endnoteRef:35] [35: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.]


Questionnaires & SurveysA form containing a set ofquestions, given to a statisticallysignificant number ofpeople, as a way of gatheringinformationEasy to administer to manypeopleImpersonal

Informal InterviewsA conversation in which factsor statements are discussedand notedFlexible and intimateTime intensive and difficult to objectively analyze

Documentation ReviewReview literature about theproblem and examine internationalbest practicesComprehensiveTime intensive and inflexible

ObservationThe process of gatheringinformation about how aproblem looks in acommunityView operations as theyoccur, adaptableSubjective and complex

Focus GroupsAssemble small groups ofpeople to discuss theproblem and explorepotential solutionsIn-depth examination of aproblemDifficult to draw conclusions


Once the issue has been identified and researched, you can begin the planning process by establishing goals, objectives, indicators, stakeholders, targets, and activities. Planning involves a series of articulated steps to ensure that the campaign is effective and focused.[endnoteRef:36] [36: Pact Tanzania, p. 12; Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.]

Set Goals

Goals articulate the desired change in policies or practices that advocates wish to achieve over a fixed period of time. They typically express the higher level results that the advocates wish to attain.[endnoteRef:37] [37: Ibid.]

Set Objectives

Objectives define what the advocate will specifically accomplish, with whom, how, and in what period of time.[endnoteRef:38] Setting objectives enables you to clarify what you are trying to achieve, and assists you in planning and designing your advocacy activities. Furthermore, clear objectives will also help you in the future with evaluation and monitoring of your advocacy work.[endnoteRef:39] [38: Pact Tanzania, p. 12; Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.] [39: WaterAid.]

SMART Analysis One well-established way to clarify your key objectives is to run your issue through a SMART analysis:

(1) Specific What exactly do you want to happen? Is it clear whose behavior must change?(2) Measurable Will you know when you have achieved it? Is it clear by how much the behavior must change?(3) Achievable Is it realistic or even possible to achieve your objective, given your resources and time? Will you be able to raise money or other resources to support your work on the objective? Does your organization have the initial resources to achieve this objective?(4) Relevant Is it relevant and appropriate to all stakeholders, and to the problem itself? Can you achieve your objective considering the current social and political conditions?(5) Time-bound By when do you want it to happen? Does the objective have a clear and realistic time-frame or deadline? [endnoteRef:40] [40: WaterAid; Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.]

Identify Indicators

After articulating your goals and objectives, the next step in planning your advocacy campaign is to identify indicators. Indicators are signs that let you know that you are making progress toward your objectives. All good indicators should be: (1) direct, (2) discrete, (3) practical, and (4) reliable. While it is not always possible to find indicators that have all four characteristics, your indicators should embody as many of these four characteristics as possible.[endnoteRef:41] [41: Victoria Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 13.]

Direct A direct indicator measures only one thing at a time. For instance, if you are tracking population income levels, a direct indicator could be household income over a specific period of time. However, sometimes a direct indicator is not available. For example, in rural areas it might be difficult to find statistics on income levels; instead, you could look at the percentage of households with radios or bicycles as a substitute indicator of wealth.[endnoteRef:42] [42: Ibid.]

Distinct Sometimes you may need to separate information about your activities into categories, divided by gender, age, location, or some other characteristic, called distinct indicators. Distinct indicators demonstrate exactly who is benefiting and participating in your advocacy activities.[endnoteRef:43] [43: Ibid.]

Practical An indicator is practical if data can be obtained easily and at a reasonable cost. For instance, the number of newspaper articles published about your advocacy campaign may be a good practical indicator.[endnoteRef:44] [44: Ibid.]

Reliable A reliable indicator provides dependable information for confident decision-making. Many indicators are based on numbers, like household income figures, which means that they are easy to understand and evaluate. There are many other indicators, however, that are based on peoples personal experiences or opinions and therefore less clear and sometimes less reliable.[endnoteRef:45] [45: Ibid.]

Identify Stakeholders

A stakeholder is anyone who has a direct interest in the outcome of your advocacy campaign, including people directly affected by the issue, groups responsible for creating the issue, and groups interested in solving the issue. Stakeholders will have different degrees of influence or control over the issue; understanding each stakeholders power over the problem is an important part of the planning process. Stakeholders can be separated into three groups: (1) allies, (2) neutrals, and (3) opponents.[endnoteRef:46] (here it sais three groups, while in Stakeholder Matrix are four. [46: Ibid.]

Allies Allies are people and organizations that support your advocacy campaign, such as opinion leaders, politicians, media personalities, NGOs, community groups, academics, and people directly affected by the issue. Allies will contribute to your advocacy campaign with time, technical expertise, financial and material resources.[endnoteRef:47] [47: Ibid.]

Neutrals Neutral stakeholders are people and organizations who have not yet formed a strong opinion on an issue. Because neutrals can quickly become allies or opponents, they are important to your advocacy campaign.[endnoteRef:48] [48: Ibid.]

Opponents Opponents are people and organizations who oppose your advocacy campaign. Because advocacy challenges existing balances of power, it often provokes a negative reaction from people currently in power or people with different values. Opponents can range from people who disagree but do not take action to aggressive or violent enemies.[endnoteRef:49] [49: Ibid.]

Beneficiaries or Constituents The people you represent- maybe more explanation because this is most important group

Stakeholder Matrix[endnoteRef:50] A stakeholder matrix can help you to classify stakeholders according to their role in relation to the advocacy issue. However, the stakeholder matrix is not static or strictly drawn; individuals and organizations can move from adversaries to allies or vice versa as your advocacy work progresses.[endnoteRef:51] [50: Adapted from WaterAid.] [51: Ibid.]

OpponentsThose who oppose your position (may or may not be directly responsible for decision-making)Beneficiaries or ConstituentsThe people you representAlliesIndividuals or organizations that can help you reach your advocacy goalNeutralsIndividuals and organizations that have not yet formed an opinion

Identify Targets

A stakeholder with a high level of influence over your issue regardless of their level of agreement with your position is a target.[endnoteRef:52] Thus, when identifying stakeholders, consider the degree of influence each stakeholder has over the issue. Some of your targets may also be your opponents; educate yourself about their opinions and ideas in order to find common ground or counter their arguments. [52: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 14.]

Targets can be broken into two groups: Primary and secondary. A primary target is a person with the most power to directly address your issue. However, you may not have access to this person or this person may be unable to openly support your issue for political reasons. Instead, you may need to focus your efforts on a secondary target: a person who cannot directly solve the problem, but who has the ability to influence the primary target. If you can influence this person, you can influence the primary target.[endnoteRef:53] [53: Ibid.]

Once you have identified your key targets, research them and analyze their positions, so that you can target your advocacy.[endnoteRef:54] One method of compiling this information is through use of a target table. [54: WaterAid.]

Target Table[endnoteRef:55] [55: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.]

Objective:Target NameContact PersonWhat do they know about the problem?What is their attitude about the problem?Who has influence over them?What is important to them?

Primary TargetSecondary Target

Define the Message

Communication of your message is central to effective advocacy, and thus it must be clear and definitive. A clear message should: (1) summarize the change you want to bring about; (2) be short and punchy, just one or two sentences; (3) be understandable to someone who does not know the issue; (4) include a deadline for when you want to achieve your objective; (5) include the reasons why the change is important; (6) include any action you want the audience to take in response; (7) be memorable.[endnoteRef:56] [56: WaterAid.]

Frame the Message Once your key messages are established, they need to be framed according to your target audiences. Although your overall position on the advocacy issue does not change, you should adapt the way you present your message to achieve the greatest impact on a particular audience. Understanding the issues your target cares about enables you to make links in your message between your issue and their concerns, increasing the likelihood of a positive response from your target.[endnoteRef:57] [57: Ibid.]

Select the Medium & the Messenger Effective advocacy requires both careful attention to the message itself and how it is transmitted the medium. Based on the audience you are trying to reach, consider the most effective medium to carry your message, and the most effective messenger to deliver it. The medium you choose may be by letter, phone call, meeting, press release, TV or radio interview, leaflet, poster, press advertisement, research paper, and/or conference. The messenger you choose to transmit your medium to your audience may be a member of staff, an organization, independent expert, celebrity, or beneficiary.[endnoteRef:58] [58: Ibid.]

Assess Resources

Before you can choose the activities for your advocacy campaign, you need to assess what resources you have at your disposal, including financial, human capacity, and common or shared knowledge. Examining each type of resource will enable you to identify any gaps that need filling before you can begin a particular activity: money, people, skills and experience, other human resources, partners, information and knowledge, relationships, reputation, and time. You will need to continually reassess your resources, and you may discover that you need to raise money in order to carry out the rest of your advocacy campaign.[endnoteRef:59] [59: Ibid.]

Choose Activities

The next step in advocacy campaign planning is to select your activities. The activities you choose should depend upon your available resources and your relationship with your targets. The best activities are participatory, cost-effective, and reach as many people as possible particularly the poorest and most disenfranchised.[endnoteRef:60] Advocacy activities include: policy research, lobbying, demonstrations, watchdog activities, flyers, websites, networking, meetings, newsletters, petitions, negotiations, press conferences, strikes, poetry contests, marches, surveys, theater, court cases, poster campaigns, talk shows, round tables, workshops, negotiations, trainings, TV or radio drama, door to door solicitation, letter writing, interviews, public forums, press releases, mediation, exposure tours, and press briefings.[endnoteRef:61] [60: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 15.] [61: Pact Tanzania, p. 15.]

Generally speaking, the aforementioned advocacy activities can be grouped under four broad headings: lobbying, public campaigning, media work, and capacity building. Ideally, your advocacy campaign should employ each of these four categories of action:

(1) Lobbying the process of trying to directly influence decision-makers, such as politicians, civil servants, or corporate chief executives;(2) Public campaigning activities designed to engage the public and to mobilize support for your position; (3) Media work raising public awareness of your issues, with the goal of changing public attitudes and behavior, and encouraging support for your other advocacy actions; (4) Capacity building increasing the knowledge of those affected by a particular issue, and increasing their skills and developing their structures to enable them to carry out their own advocacy.[endnoteRef:62] [62: WaterAid.]

A particular advocacy activity may fall into more than one of the four categories. Here are further descriptions of some individual advocacy activities you may choose from:

Using the Media[endnoteRef:63] The media can play a significant role in your public advocacy campaign. Television, radio, and press allow you to reach decision-makers and to influence public opinion. The mainstream media is targeted at the general public, but it can also have considerable influence over decision-makers, particularly if they are aware of the mediums influence over public opinion. Thus, your advocacy work should treat the media as both a tool for advocacy and an influential target of your advocacy. [63: Ibid.]

Reasons to use the media include: getting your issue onto the political public agenda; making your issue visible and credible in policy debate; informing the public about your issue and your proposed solutions; recruiting allies among the public and decision-makers; changing public attitudes and behavior; influencing decision-makers and opinion leaders; raising money for your cause.

You should research the media to determine: which publications or programs already cover your issue or similar issues; how the media picks up news stories; how free members of the media are to say what they think; how you can fit into the style and format of various programs and publications; how can you contact the media; the role of press in your state (ranging from outspokenly critical of the government to government-controlled); which audiences the media reaches; and the style and tone of various publications.

Building a contact list enables you to rapidly pass your message on to all relevant media when you have a news story. The most common method for getting your message to the media is through a press release a written document that outlines concisely the issue you wish the media to cover, and is widely distributed to various news sources. Timing is the key to good story-telling: Look for breaking news opportunities such as natural events, speeches, or anniversaries during which to disseminate your own message.

Social Media One form of media that is increasingly being used to conduct advocacy campaigns is social media, which includes advertisement and postings on Facebook, Twitter, and individual blogs. Because social media is free and reaches a wide audience, it should almost certainly be included in every advocacy campaign.

Litigation A well-publicized court case can draw public attention to your issue, and can sometimes lead to legal reform or fairer enforcement. In states where class action lawsuits exist, groups of people affected by abuses of power can use a court case to fight for justice collectively.[endnoteRef:64] [64: VeneKlasen and Miller, p. 187.]

Lobbying Lobbying is the attempt to directly persuade decision-makers. Lobbying can be formal through letter writing or scheduled meetings or informal through chance meetings, leaflets, or invitations to events. The foundation of lobbying is the ability to shape the meeting agenda around a deliverable for the decision-maker.[endnoteRef:65] [65: WaterAid.]

Negotiation Negotiation involves bargaining to seek common ground, or at least respect for disagreement. It happens between allies, advocates, and constituents as well as across the table from those in power. To bargain with decision-makers, you need to know your own power in relation to your opponents, what is and is not negotiable, and what your plan is if negotiations fall apart.[endnoteRef:66] [66: VeneKlasen and Miller, p. 187.]

Protest A protest is a demonstration or march which relies on large numbers of participants, creative messages, and impeccable timing to garner attention and support. Other forms of protest include: boycotts (when directed at corporations), vigils, and hunger strikes. Protest is oftentimes a tactic of last resort when more conventional strategies fail to open up public dialogue.[endnoteRef:67] [67: Ibid.]

Public Campaigning Public campaigning is the process of engaging the public, and getting them to take action to demonstrate their support for your advocacy project or position. The main objective of public campaigning is to demonstrate to your advocacy targets that there is significant public concern about the issue and wide support for your position. As individuals, the public may not have much influence, but united behind a particular position they can exert considerable pressure as voters and consumers.[endnoteRef:68] [68: WaterAid.]

Mass Writing Mass writing is a campaigning tool that asks people to send letters, postcards, or emails to a particular target, raising specific concerns and requesting specific results. You will need to provide people with the necessary tools, such as sample letters, printed postcards, or an email template.[endnoteRef:69] [69: Ibid.]

Petitions Collecting a large number of signatures, names, and addresses on paper or through a website can be an effective way of demonstrating mass support for your position. Consider how to deliver the petition to achieve maximum impact, and make sure to secure media coverage.[endnoteRef:70] [70: Ibid.]

Events Campaign events, such as speaker rallies, marches, vigils, or delegations to your targets offices, can attract media coverage. However, large-scale events take a lot of work and can be very expensive, so you may consider whether there are existing events that you can piggy back onto.[endnoteRef:71] [71: Ibid.]

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops Public events, such as conferences, seminars, and workshops can be used to influence the targets you invite, and offer opportunities for media coverage, raising awareness among journalists, partners, and the general public.[endnoteRef:72] [72: Ibid.]

Leaflets and Posters Printed material can be used to raise public awareness among large numbers of people. The messages in your material should be tailored depending on who your intended target audience is.[endnoteRef:73] [73: Ibid.]

Research Research provides the necessary information for advocacy planning, message development, policy alternatives, and lobbying. Research can also strengthen alliances, build constituencies, and help develop citizenship skills.[endnoteRef:74] Furthermore, positions and proposals based on solid information increase the credibility of your advocacy campaign.[endnoteRef:75] [74: VeneKlasen and Miller, p. 187.] [75: Ibid.]

Reports Reports on your issue, and its causes and effects, can be used to support lobbying activities, and to provide background for journalists, partners, and the public.[endnoteRef:76] [76: WaterAid.]

Websites A campaign website provides users with an accessible, user-friendly, and authoritative resource about your advocacy campaign. A website can also be a place to exchange and communicate ideas and views about your advocacy issue, through the use of blogs, message boards, or online petitions. Your website should contain background information about your advocacy project, press releases, reports, stories, images, and quotes. However, be aware that millions of people in the developing world do not have access, or easy access, to the internet.[endnoteRef:77] [77: Ibid.]

Street Theater, Drama & Video Street theater can raise awareness among communities, engage the wider public, and offer stakeholders the opportunity to tell their own stories and become involved in the advocacy campaign. Drama presents an opportunity to present facts and issues in an entertaining and accessible way, however, the scope of the audience is limited and it may tend to trivialize serious issues. Video is a relatively expensive advocacy tool, but it has the potential for wide impact, both among audiences with low literacy and among audiences increasingly accustomed to audio-visual presentations rather than the written word.[endnoteRef:78] [78: Ibid.]

Activity Checklist The following checklist can help you to determine whether you have chosen good activities for your advocacy campaign:

(1) Can you really do the activity? Do you have the needed people, time, and resources?(2) Is the activity focused on either the primary or secondary target?(3) Does the activity put real power behind a specific demand?(4) Does the activity meet your issue goals?(5) Is the activity outside the experience of the target?(6) Is the activity within the experience of your own members and are they comfortable with it?(7) Do you have leaders experienced enough to accomplish the activity?(8) Will people enjoy participating in the activity?(9) Will the activity play positively in the media?[endnoteRef:79] [79: The Change Agency, Training Resources: Strategy, available at (last visited May 17, 2011) (citing MidWest Academy Checklist).]

Factors Shaping Advocacy Strategy[endnoteRef:80] Four key factors should influence the activities you choose to constitute your advocacy campaign: (1) context, (2) timing, (3) organization, and (4) risk. [80: VeneKlasen and Miller, p.186.]

Context refers to the fact that every political environment is different: governments have varying degrees of legitimacy and power in relation to civil society, the private sector, the media, and international institutions. Furthermore, a particular societys blend of culture, religion, ethnicity, race, and economic development affects levels of tolerance and acceptance of social change.

Timing acknowledges that each historic moment an international economic trend, an election, or an international conference presents different political opportunities and constraints. At some moments, a march will draw needed attention to an issue, and at others, it may provoke repression.

In designing your advocacy activities, it is important to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your organization, including the breadth and strength of your support, the power and position of your allies, the sense of purpose among your leadership, the efficiency and responsiveness of your leadership, and the clarity of your goals.

Be aware of the risk that each advocacy activity creates. Challenging current power balances often generates conflict. In some states, a direct action aimed at a key decision-maker may be politically dangerous or may decrease the potential for change in the long-term. In other states, pushing for change that affects cultural or religious beliefs may provoke backlash. Furthermore, involving people who are usually excluded, like women or poor people, may cause conflict within the family or community. While you may decide to take risks because there are no other options, everyone involved must understand the risks of the actions they are taking.[endnoteRef:81] [81: Ibid.]

Create Advocacy Campaign Action Plan

After a thorough analysis of your goals, objectives, indicators, message, resources, stakeholders, targets, and activities, you are ready to create an advocacy campaign action plan. This plan will help you to consolidate your thoughts and efforts into a concise framework for your advocacy campaign.[endnoteRef:82] Your action plan should be coupled with a detailed budget, both of which should be flexible as they may require revision as your advocacy campaign progresses.[endnoteRef:83] [82: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; Pact Tanzania, p. 15.] [83: WaterAid.]

Advocacy Campaign Action Plan[endnoteRef:84] [84: Victoria Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series; WaterAid.]




After writing your advocacy campaign action plan, it is time to begin implementing your campaign activities. First, you should prioritize your campaign activities: some activities can be done anytime, while others may require that other activities are done first, and still others may need to occur at specific dates or times. During this stage of the advocacy cycle, remember to follow through, stay focused, and be timely with your activities.[endnoteRef:85] Implementing an advocacy campaign requires continuous coordination and evaluation at each stage of the action plan in order to assess whether activities are having the desired effect, evaluate the effect that changes in the external environment may have on your campaign, and assess external reactions to your message.[endnoteRef:86] [85: Ibid.] [86: Advocacy Academy, p. 20.]

Monitor & Evaluate

In addition to a well-crafted and practical advocacy campaign action plan, all successful advocacy campaigns have a strong commitment to regularly monitoring and evaluating their efforts. Only through monitoring and evaluation can you adjust your action plan to reflect lessons learned mid-campaign.[endnoteRef:87] Although it is often difficult to evaluate exactly which actions lead to particular outcomes, or even what exactly the final impact of the campaign is, you will have a far better chance of reaching a meaningful assessment if you plan for evaluation before you begin.[endnoteRef:88] [87: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series.] [88: WaterAid.]


Gathering information to measure the impact of your advocacy campaign is called monitoring. In order for monitoring to be effective, it must be completely integrated into all phases of the advocacy campaign in order to determine whether your activities are helping to achieve your objectives. Monitoring compares the inputs (human, material, and financial resources), outputs (activities and products), and results (achievements) against our advocacy campaign action plan:[endnoteRef:89] [89: Ayer and Bunn, Advocacy Expert Series]

ImpactImprovement in quality of life, measured objectively and contributes to a larger social goalInputsResources (human, material, and financial) which we put into a campaignOutputsDirect results of combining and utilizing the inputs to create a capacity for producing resultsResultsAchievements resulting from the use or action of the outputs


Periodically during the advocacy campaign, you need to analyze or evaluate the information you gather during the monitoring process. Doing so will help you to think critically about the campaigns strengths and weaknesses. Use the indicators from your advocacy campaign action plan to assess what has been accomplished and how well your resources have been used. Additionally, your monitoring data may also indicate changes in power structures, allies and opponents, or even the issue itself. You should be prepared to adjust your advocacy campaign action plan, even while the campaign is underway, in order to reflect the results of your evaluation.[endnoteRef:90] Finally, once the advocacy campaign has ended, it is important to verify the impact it has had on the overall goals and objectives of the campaign, so that you can share that information with the public, and be better prepared to take action in the future.[endnoteRef:91] [90: Ibid.] [91: Advocacy Academy, p. 20.]

Practically speaking, there are several steps that a good advocate should take once an advocacy campaign has ended: (1) emphasize implementation achieved at each stage; (2) send encouraging messages and congratulations to all of the campaigns allies; (3) send respectful messages to opponents, political actors, and policymakers; (4) communicate the results achieved by the organizations members; (5) post all public documents that have resulted from the advocacy campaign (research, opinion papers, media coverage, and political communications) on the advocates website; (6) update the database with contacts gained during the campaign.[endnoteRef:92] [92: Ibid.]


A good advocacy campaign has a direct effect on the lives of the people it strives to improve. Because an advocacy campaign can oftentimes seem long and arduous, it is important to remember the ultimate goal and beneficiaries of the campaign during every step of the process: while identifying an issue for your campaign to address; when researching that issue; when setting your campaign goals and objectives; during identification of indicators, stakeholders, and targets; as you are defining and framing your message and assessing what resources are available; when choosing which activities will best achieve your goals; while carrying out your advocacy campaign action plan; and throughout the monitoring and evaluation process.