Effective advocacy is best done in conjunction with other organizations supporting the same aim, as this adds ‘greater voice’ to the issue, expanding and strengthening the advocacy campaign. It also helps to empower members and individuals. Joint working can frequently accomplish goals that the individual members could not accomplish alone.
Joint working can also strengthen the advocacy campaign in practical terms, as partners can bring various resources to the table, and the advocacy can more easily be spread geographically. It also gives the campaign greater political and popular support. However, it is important that joint working is given a practical focus, to avoid the common pitfall of endless talking-shops, with no real results.
Partnerships can involve a range of different organizations, including those outside the usual animal welfare community – as appropriate to the advocacy issue. Research and analysis will inform the choice of partners. These could, for example, include organizations as diverse as: development, environment or health NGOs; NGO networks; NGO training bodies; intergovernmental organizations; national and local governments; influential research institutes; veterinary bodies; consumer organizations etc.
There are some key principles and recommendations that apply specifically to advocacy work. These are summarized briefly below:
- Integration: Advocacy should not be seen as something separate to your organization’s program work. Advocacy should be integrated into all program work, including ‘service delivery’ work carried out for government. Every practical animal welfare problem should be analyzed in order to find sustainable policy solutions, and advocacy work introduced to achieve these. Advocacy should be introduced throughout your organization’s planning processes: strategic planning; program planning and review; and your budgeting processes.
- Joint planning/play to strengths: If possible, advocacy should be planned from an early stage with the partners. This would usefully include joint strategic planning and a joint steering group.
- Share visibility: The principle of conducting advocacy with partners implies that the visibility that accrues through the work will be shared. Any reports produced as part of the work should include the logo and contact details of each of the main author organizations. Similarly for any public events (conferences, press releases etc), consideration should be given to how each organization could be profiled or credited. Partnership guidelines should be prepared on the use of photos and video footage for publication and communication.
- Focus on capacity development: Each piece of advocacy should leave partners in a stronger position. Expertise in areas such as: advocacy, media, communications, policy, and organizational development should be utilized and shared throughout, and built upon. Where advocacy campaigns cover a number of countries or regions, local knowledge and risk analysis should be valued and shared.
There are various models of formal collaboration on advocacy campaigns. There is also some confusion about names for these advocacy groupings (especially from country-to-country)!
We find it useful to distinguish three main models of joint working:
- Networks: primarily for information sharing
- Alliances: longer-term strategic partnerships
- Coalitions: usually formed for a single issue or campaign
Advocacy campaigns can be spread through various networks. It is worth remembering that:
- Internet networks are increasing in use and coverage
- Networks are universal and almost everyone belongs to one or more networks
- Networks may be personal or professional; formal or informal; temporary or ongoing. They may include family members, school friends, colleagues, members of the same religious institution, etc.
- Members of a network have at least one thing in common with other members of that network.
This makes them valuable systems for the spread of advocacy messages, and a useful pool for supporters.
The work of animal welfare alliances should include the development of concerted advocacy campaigns, and capacity development for advocacy work. The Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance (PAAWA) has as a core mandate: ‘strengthening the work of its member animal welfare organizations across Africa in advocacy and education/awareness, through leadership development and capacity building, and providing a strong collective voice for animal welfare’.
A ‘coalition’ is the primary model of joint working for an advocacy campaign (and we have used the term here to mean any joint working for advocacy purposes). Coalition members contribute resources, expertise, and connections to an advocacy effort, and bring greater political and popular support.
Coalitions can come in different shapes and sizes including:
- Formal: Members formally join the coalition, pay dues, and are identified as coalition members on letterhead, coalition statements etc.
- Informal: There is no official membership, so members are constantly changing. With membership turnover, the issues and tactics of the coalition may also shift.
- Geographic: The coalition is based on a geographical area. It can be local, national, regional (global South and North) or international.
- Multi or Single Issue
- Permanent or Temporary
Different types of coalitions will attract different organizations