Part ii: Initiating the advocacy process

The EO needs to have at the outset a clear strategic overview of the process it is undertaking and this agreed strategy must guide the EO's advocacy efforts.

Overall the EO's strategic approach to advocacy should focus on a limited number of well-defined policy issues. The EO's goal must be achievable in the current policy and economic climate

In this it needs to clearly articulate its case for reform or change and outline the benchmarks it hopes to reach along the way, and its underlying assumptions. In short, the EO knows exactly how to get where it wants to go based on where it currently is.

The EO must be ready to act quickly and change direction if events change and it must have a contingency plan.

The effectiveness and success of any advocacy process depends inter alia on how well the following steps are implemented:

  • Identifying and stating the issue.
  • Collecting the relevant information.
  • Mobilising interest.
  • Raising and managing the necessary resources.
  • Networking.
  • Forming alliances.
  • Forming and sustaining coalitions.
  • Involving media.
  • Identifying Ministry contacts.

Once an issue has been identified by the EO and it moves towards the advocacy process it is entering a dynamic phase. This involves developing solutions, building support, and bringing issues, solutions, and political will together to ensure that the desired change does take place. Finally, it involves monitoring and evaluating the entire process.

It may well be necessary to revisit and revise several of these steps throughout the implementation of the EO's advocacy campaign. Successful advocacy does not proceed in a straight line and rarely unfolds exactly according to plan. The EO should be prepared for unforeseen events and consequences.

2.1 Using Tools

Each issue demands different approaches and strategies, partners, tactics, methods, resources, materials, and so on. In embarking upon an advocacy campaign, it is important to have the capacity to consider all available options and to make strategic choices amongst them. Skilled and informed use of these tools results in greater advocacy impact. The most important of these tools include the following.

Information: Gathering, managing, and disseminating information lays the basis for determining the direction of an advocacy campaign.

Research: Conducting research and policy analysis uses the information from various sources and develops it into policy options which become the key content of an advocacy campaign.

Media: Various media are used to communicate the campaign's messages to the different stakeholders.

Lobbying: Convincing policy-makers who have the power to make the desired change.

Networks, alliances, and coalitions: Sharing of information and resources, and commonality of purpose are key to the success of advocacy work.

The choice of tools will vary, even in the context of a single process. It will depend on:

  • The issue at hand;
  • the strategic objectives;
  • the message to be communicated;
  • the stakeholders targeted;
  • the relevant structures and processes involved;
  • the time frame available;
  • the resources available;
  • the capacities of the advocacy organization(s) and their allies;
  • the overall social, political, and economic context.

Advocacy is a complex task. Its objectives will not be achieved through the use of only one tool or method, but rather will require a carefully designed mixture of approaches. EOs should be flexible throughout their advocacy campaign so that if one tool does not have the expected results, another can be tried.