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Our Programs Strategic Planning for Advocacy

Further Resources






Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management ("Financial Times" S.)
By: Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, Joseph Lamprel, Joseph Lampel
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0273656368

The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning
By: Henry Mintzberg
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0273650378

The New, Completely Revised Understanding Organisations
By: Charles Handy
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 0141017309

What Is Strategy and Does It Matter?
By: Richard Whittington
Publisher: Thomson Learning
ISBN: 1861523777

The Strategy Process
By: James Brian Quinn, Henry Mintzberg, Robert M. James, Joseph B. Lampel (Editor),
Sumantra Ghoshal (Editor)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0131227904

Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organizations
By: Henry Mintzberg
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
ISBN: 0029213711

The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World
By: Peter Schwartz
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
ISBN: 0471977853

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
By: Michael E. Porter
Publisher: Free Press
ISBN: 0743260880

The Leader's Change Handbook: An Essential Guide to Setting Direction and Taking Action
By: Jay A. Conger (Editor), Edward E. Lawler III (Editor), Gretchen M. Spreitzer (Editor)
Publisher: Jossey Bass Wiley
ISBN: 0787943517

Exploring Corporate Strategy: Text and Cases with Business Dictionary
By: Johnson, Scholes
Publisher: FT Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0582843294

The Portable MBA in Strategy
By: Liam Fahey (Editor), Robert Randall, Robert M. Randall (Editor)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
ISBN: 0471197084

Mastering Strategy (Financial Times Mastering Series)
By: Financial Times, Chicago, Michigan, Said, Insead Universities
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0273649302


Strategic Review


Strategy is not a work that is ‘set in stone’ as soon as it has been formulated. If an organization wishes to retain strategic advantage, it needs to keep abreast of changes to its internal capabilities and its external environment that may necessitate a change to strategy or other corrective action.

An organization needs to keep monitoring emerging events and its environment. For many animal protection organizations, this will mean the need to develop:

  • General awareness of the broader strategic options and orientations of the sector.
  • Greater awareness of the plans and actions of its competitors and collaborators.
  • Greater awareness of the political environment in which it operates.
  • Ability to ‘think strategically’ about aspects of its day-to-day responsibility.

Environmental scan - A process for discovering and documenting facts and trends in the external environment that might impact the organization’s future

Environmental scanning should include (but not exclusively):

  • Newspaper and news scanning for animal protection issues.
  • Trade journals.
  • Scientific press.
  • Trade conferences and shows.
  • Animal protection conferences.
  • Web Sites of key competitors.
  • Key animal protection meetings.
  • Relevant political and governmental conferences and meetings.
  • Funders’ conferences and meetings with funders.
  • Supporters and donors meetings.

Strategic Analysis


Different Approaches
The Issue
The External Situation - Environmental Analysis
The Internal Situation - Organizational Analysis
Strategies for Dealing with Opponents and Allies
Risk Analysis


The main areas that need to be analyzed are:

  • The issue
  • Environmental analysis (external situation)
  • Organizational analysis (the internal situation, e.g. - skills, resources and other plans)
  • Stakeholder analysis (e.g. - allies, competitors, adversaries and targets)
  • Risk analysis

These are covered in more detail below. The way in which these are analyzed and the order in which they are considered should vary according to individual circumstances.

Different Approaches

There are many approaches to the strategic planning process. There are a number of simple models but they miss out on key aspects needed to guide strategic analysis and choice. Thus, we recommend an extended ‘Draw-See-Think’ model, which incorporates the following important aspects:

  • Draw - What is the ideal image or the desired end state?
  • See - What is today's situation? What is the gap from the ideal, and why?
  • Who - Who are we? Who is for us, and who is against us? How can we manage our relationships to win?
  • How - What do we have that we can use to help create change?
  • Think - What specific actions must be taken to close the gap between today's situation and the ideal state? (aims and objectives)
  • Plan – What resources are required to execute the activities? Action planning to acquire and commit resources to achieve agreed objectives.


Strategic planning usually begins with a vision of what the organization wants to achieve. For organizational strategy this normally means starting with the development of vision and mission statements. However, for advocacy strategy, this is not necessary – providing you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve for your issue. This can be initiated as part of the process of agreeing your issue, and finalized when issue solutions are agreed. It is recommended that this is done in a participatory way, using creative techniques, in order to develop a common sense of commitment and purpose amongst those present.

The Issue

The choice of issue was covered in Module 2. It should complement your program work, and it should be an important theme that, if tackled successfully, will make a real difference to animal welfare. Ideally by the time you come to the Strategic Planning workshop you have agreement for the main issue you are going to work on. But in the workshop you may change the nuance, or the sub-theme of the issue. The other purpose of the Strategic Planning workshop is to discuss all aspects of the issue and win support and ‘buy-in’ for a sustained period of work on that issue.

Advocacy Tools

Tools that help determine your issue.

1. The Issue Choice Matrix
Your chosen issue can be analyzed critically using root cause tools such as:
2. Causal Mapping or Problem Tree Analysis
As well as analytical techniques, an appropriate creative envisioning tool should be used to generate a future vision (or solution). For example:
10. Creative Drawing
This is a tool that encourages intuitive and creative thinking about the improvement of a current situation. It is a creative envisioning tool that can help to generate a future vision. 

The External Situation - Environmental Analysis

To develop an effective advocacy strategy, you need to understand the broader environment in which the organization operates (and to which the issue relates).

Key Advocacy Tools

9. Force Field Analysis
This tool is helpful to assess the driving and restraining forces of an advocacy issue (the factors that are working to promote policy change and those that are preventing this from happening).
11. PESTLE – External Analysis
This tool helps to scan or review the broader environment, and to sort and analyze key factors that may affect the advocacy campaign.

A good understanding of the ‘drivers of change’ of an advocacy issue helps you to focus your advocacy strategy. The force field analysis is an effective way of analysing the drivers (and restraining factors), which need to be considered in the development of a targeted strategy.

Environmental analysis should also consider the question of timing, which is a vital element of strategy formulation. Key questions might include:

  • What is the timing for the legislative process?
  • When are key meetings when decisions are taken?
  • Are there elections coming up? They might mess up your schedule, but might be an opportunity.

The Internal Situation - Organizational Analysis

Your organizational resources affect your capacity to do the advocacy work, and will determine how and with whom you collaborate. An organizational skills and resources audit could include the following aspects:

In particular:

Resources: Look at the financial, physical and human resources that are available to work on the advocacy project. Include the fundraising potential of the advocacy project.

Knowledge and Skills: Identify the knowledge and skills that are available or can be drawn upon in order to do effective advocacy. Are there knowledge and skills gaps that need be filled? Should you do this in house, or by joining or employing others with the expertise?

If you are looking more widely at advocacy work in an organization, there are some deeper organizational factors that can be assessed. In particular, check that your advocacy contributes to your organization’s vision and mission, helps to fulfil your overall corporate objectives and is integrated into your broader organizational strategy.

Advocacy Tools

Key tools that can help with Internal Analysis:

12. SWOT Analysis
This is a commonly used tool for undertaking an organizational assessment and is used to consider the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats relevant to the advocacy campaign.
13. Advocacy Self Assessment
This is another tool to help with identifying strengths and weaknesses.
14. Change Management Iceberg
A diagram showing the essence of change – in particular, what lies beneath the surface for managers and policy-influencers planning change.

Another aspect of the organization that needs to be considered in advocacy strategy analysis is the ‘Ways of Working’. These include relevant policies and values, and appropriate ways of working in the policy environment.

Next, you will need to decide on appropriate tactics and activities. There are a variety of these including: lobby meetings, seminars and conferences, policy briefings, research documentation, exposure visits/investigations, media work, and campaigning (including events, actions, demonstrations etc.). Some of these will be more appropriate for your organization and issue. Once you decide on these, you can agree on your ‘advocacy tactics toolkit’. A ‘tactics toolkit’ is a set of agreed tactics which can be employed appropriately in the course of carrying out your advocacy strategy.


Advocacy should be a deliberate process, involving intentional actions. Therefore, before choosing an appropriate advocacy strategy, it should be clear who you are trying to influence. When you have identified your issue you will be clear which individuals are affected by the issue or can influence a decision on it. These people are collectively termed ‘stakeholders’.

Be aware of all the potential stakeholders. It is useful to break this large group down into smaller categories of like-minded people in order to recognize where participants fit into the campaign. These may include:

Internal stakeholders – People within your own organization who are involved in the advocacy project in some way e.g. staff, volunteers, management board etc. Some may be only lukewarm about the advocacy project or be resource competitors.

Allies – People who are ‘on your side’ on the issue – either because they will directly benefit from the policy changes, or because they want to bring about these changes for reasons of justice.

Adversaries or opponents – People who are opposed to the policy change. They may be actively opposed to the policy change. Or they may be ignorant or uniformed – these could be potential allies, given greater understanding. Adversaries could be the targets of your advocacy campaign.

Targets – People who you may wish to influence. Primary targets are those with the ability to affect your objective directly. Secondary targets are those who can influence primary targets.

People can be in more than one of these categories at any one time.

Advocacy Tools

Important Tools for Stakeholder Analysis:

17. Stakeholder Analysis
This tool is used to identify people, groups or institutions with an interest in the advocacy campaign and to establish their relative importance and influence. This links into the following stakeholder analysis tools:
6. Allies and Opponents Matrix
This tool can be used to categorize the allies and opponents of your advocacy issue.
18. Johari's window
This tool maps influence against the level of involvement in the advocacy issue.
19. Audience Prioritization Matrix
The tool maps influence against the importance of the issue to the stakeholder.

It is important to carry out an analysis of stakeholders at an early stage in order to decide whether or not to involve them in the strategic planning process; and if so how to involve or consult each category. There are four broad levels of possible involvement in the strategic process:

  1. Full involvement
  2. Partial involvement
  3. Consultation
  4. No involvement

For stakeholders who will not be fully involved in the strategy process, they could still be consulted independently, and their comments fed into the process. This could be done by methods such as: focus groups, individual meetings, questionnaires (e.g. by letter, Internet, e-mail), telephone conversations etc. Other stakeholders may need different levels of involvement, for diverse purposes such as providing a platform for them to: learn, question, input or advise.

In addition to deciding on the involvement (or otherwise) of various stakeholders in the strategy process, the way in which stakeholders are dealt with in the campaign is a major part of the strategy process itself.

Strategies for Dealing with Opponents and Allies

Before we know whether an organization is an ally or an adversary, an analysis of ‘Other Players’ (other organizations working in the same field) is a vital part of the stakeholder analysis. This is needed both to determine whether and how to involve these organizations, and in order to map out the ‘market’ to inform decisions about the most effective placing of your organization and advocacy campaign. These ‘other players’ have the potential to be either allies or competitors. There are many potential allies, but we need to be strategic about which ones to work with. Their work needs to be considered to avoid duplication and unnecessary conflict.

We should therefore brainstorm all of them and then reflect on their interest in this particular issue and their level of influence and power to bring about change.

Advocacy Tool

7. Other Player Analysis
This tool is a relevant in assessing the position and potential role of another organization in our advocacy strategy.

Mapping Relationships Between Stakeholders

Stakeholder analysis can also be used to map relationships between stakeholders, avenues of influence and power relations. Power mapping is essential for planning and calculating risks. You can also then consider the feasibility of moving people - e.g. turning adversaries into allies (see below).

Personal factors also play a key role in stakeholder management, and need to be uncovered and analyzed. These factors include:

  • Relationships and tensions between the players
  • Their agendas and constraints
  • Their motivations and interests
  • What their priorities are - rational, emotional, and personal

Advocacy Tool

8. The Venn Diagram
Maps major stakeholders involved in the policy system, and the relationships between them.

Strategies for Dealing with Adversaries/Opponents

The main strategies for dealing with opponents are likely to be:

  • Persuading them that your position is right, or weakening their opposition to your position
  • Reducing their influence (often by affecting their status or credibility by successfully countering their arguments)
  • Seeking some common ground on some issues and agreeing to disagree on others

The main things you need to find out about your opponents are:

  • Why do they oppose you?
  • How actively will they oppose you? Will they be reactive (just counteracting your moves) or proactive (attacking without provocation)?
  • What will they do to challenge you? What battleground are they likely to choose?
  • How much power do they have (money, influence, numbers)?
  • What are their organizational structures and policies?
  • What are their strategies and tactics?
  • What are their policies and beliefs? Are there areas where you might agree?
  • What are their interests and agendas?
  • Who influences them? Who is influenced by them?

Strategies for Dealing with Allies

The main strategies for dealing with allies are likely to be:

  • Persuading the ally that your position is right
  • Persuading the ally that the issue is important enough to warrant action
  • Building alliances
  • Helping to increase the influence of the ally

The main things you need to find out about your allies are:

  • How well do they support your advocacy issue?
  • What do they really think about the issue solutions?
  • Do they have any misgivings about your advocacy campaign? If so, what are they?
  • What do they hope to gain from the advocacy?
  • How well resourced are they in terms of the campaign?
  • What is their power base? What power do they expect in the campaign?
  • What are they willing to do to support the campaign?
  • How involved and informed do they expect to be?
  • Do they have issues with any other prospective allies?

The principle of joint engagement should come in the strategic planning stages. The potential advantages and problems of working with those identified should be weighed up before any decision is taken. Also, the following should be specifically considered for all potential partners:

  • What are the strengths of the respective stakeholders (consider finances, human resources, know-how, technology, links, etc.)?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What expectations do they have of working with you?
  • What responsibilities would they be willing and able to take on?

Exploring more formal joint working - networks, coalitions and alliances

In addition to finding the right collaborators, it is necessary to consider the best way in which to collaborate. Start by finding out whether there are existing networks and coalitions to work with. There is no point in ‘reinventing the wheel’ if there are existing networks.

If there are no appropriate coalitions already, then you could consider bringing together a number of allies to work together on an issue. There are a number of ways in which groups can work in partnership, as can be seen below. The most appropriate should be chosen given the issue, the allies and the nature of the advocacy campaign.

Models of Joint Working


  • Information sharing and support
  • Not much joint activity


  • Joint working, often single issue or campaign
  • Usually limited life span


  • Joint strategies and implementation
  • Long-term, trust
  • Regular consultation

There is more about joint working in Module 4 of this course on ‘Working Together for Change’. But any strategy will require effective planning to ensure that it is used to best effect. This includes: deciding on roles and responsibilities, discussing joint planning or joint action, establishing communication channels, and considering capacity.


This process, and the tools used, should help to identify the priority targets (also known as ‘primary audiences’) for the advocacy campaign. Indeed, informing or persuading the priority targets about a policy issue is the centerpiece of any advocacy strategy. However, as was explained in Module 2 on ‘Advocacy Research’, it is not always easy to reach busy decision-makers to persuade them that your issue should be dealt with as a priority when they are bombarded with different interest groups, who all think their issue is the most important! Thus, it is necessary to develop strategies that can succeed in reaching and influencing them, such as using secondary targets (or channels). There is more about this in Module 2.

Advocacy Tool

5. Decision and Influence Mapping
This tool will help with the analysis of decision-makers and their channels of influence.

When considering indirect targets that could act as channels to take the advocacy message to decision-makers, it is important to think laterally. Obvious indirect targets would include: government advisors, personal secretaries, government committees, interest groups, NGO networks, consumer groups, business leaders and trades unions. Sometimes less obvious indirect targets can work very successfully – for example, a Member of Parliament, an opposition politician, multilateral institutions (e.g. the United Nations or the World Bank), international organizations (such as the World Health Organization), governments and bilateral donors (e.g. the British, Australian or another government sympathetic to animal welfare). The influential role of donors is often overlooked in advocacy strategy – but governments with a significant aid budget listen to their donors carefully!

A strategy known as the ‘Boomerang Strategy’ can be very effective. This means applying pressure to third party, who will in turn apply pressure to your primary target. For example, if your issue involves policy change in relation to stray dog control, and your government is simply not listening, you could lobby the regional office of the World Health Organization, and persuade them to apply pressure on your ministry. This brings greater force and influence to the message.

Who to target will depend on what you are trying to achieve, your niche in the area, and the attitudes and influence of your key stakeholders. Many of these answers should become apparent when you go through the strategic planning processes and use relevant tools.

Once you have identified your direct and indirect targets, you need to consider how best to reach them. As regards ways of reaching them, you may find individual meetings useful in the early stages of your campaign, when you are gathering information and building relationships. However, this is not always effective in terms of achieving commitments and action. This may necessitate greater awareness and pressure – for example, through media coverage, mass mobilization, commitments sought at expert conferences etc. If the media is used, which media is the most effective at reaching your target? What angle or ‘spin’ needs to be put onto your message?

Messages need to be specifically developed and defined so they reach their targets. If your issue is currently low down on their list of priorities, you might need to reframe it in terms of other current concerns (e.g. costs, public health, education etc.).

Advocacy Tool

22. Audience Analysis
This tool assists analysis into advocacy audiences in order to target messages more effectively.

A useful way of giving substance to your advocacy is by first carrying out a pilot project, which will demonstrate the feasibility of the policy change you are advocating.

When trying to influence an institution, such as a government department or a company, it is important not to see it as an individual entity. It is not only a formal structure (or hierarchy), but will be comprised of individuals (each with different power bases), and there will power dynamics that you should recognize. There will also be differences of underlying motivations and beliefs, and a range of opinions on an issue. These need to be understood and, where possible, taken advantage of. There are advantages in focussing advocacy on the individuals in institutions, rather than the institution itself, in terms of targeting your messages effectively and in building personal relationships that makes it harder for them to avoid responding to your efforts.

Risk Analysis

There are some risks of advocacy work, such as loss of credibility if the positions are not robust, or damage to the organization’s reputation. There are also benefits: positive improvements in policy, increased visibility, and – if the advocacy is successful – increased credibility.

Before you make your final decisions on your strategy, it is important to carry out a full risk analysis of the various options. The main aspects to consider are:

  • What are the risks of doing this advocacy work? This would include any risk to the organizations or individuals involved in the advocacy, and risks to your organization’s reputation and program in that country. What is the level of opposition? Are there ways to minimize or neutralize negative elements of the advocacy?
  • What assumptions have been made in putting together the plan? We always have to make assumptions when we plan projects – the key is to acknowledge them and write them into your plan. Assumptions need to be monitored, and any changes managed where necessary.>

Advocacy Tool

23. Risk Analysis
This tool provides guidance on how to analyze risks in your advocacy strategy or plan.

Strategic Choice


The Organizational Niche
Aim, Objectives, Outcomes, Indicators, Activities and Key Asks
A Pathway to Success
Final Consultation and Dissemination of Plan
Advocacy Success


With the main parts of your strategic analysis complete, the next phase of advocacy strategic planning is around making key choices. As the ‘Vision of a Better World for Animals’ diagram above (Page 5) shows, the analysis will now provide you with the information necessary to make the following important decisions:

  • The organizational niche
  • The strategic aim, objectives, indicators, and key ‘asks’
  • How and when you will achieve your strategy – the Action Plan (Including activities, budget and monitoring and evaluation)

These are covered in more detail below.

The Organizational Niche

Understanding an organization’s niche (comparative advantage compared to other players) will help you choose the advocacy issue and approach in which the organization will have the best chance of being successful without duplicating the work of other organizations. You will need to know internal information like organizational strengths and weaknesses, areas of expertise, capacity and resources, plus external information like numbers and effectiveness of organizations conducting advocacy on this subject already; and what your organization has to offer that others do not.

An important part of the organizational niche is identifying what type of advocacy approach will be most appropriate. This will take into account the principles of the organization and established ways of working, and the approaches already being undertaken by other organizations.

You need to assess what approach will contribute to the advocacy objectives without negatively impacting on the reputation or other functions of the organization.

Aim, Objectives, Outcomes, Indicators, and Activities

These five words are the bones of your strategy. They form a logical chain from the grand aim to the day-to-day tasks. All analysis feeds into deciding what they are and they are ultimately what you will use to decide whether your advocacy strategy has been successful or not. Your ‘Key Asks’ are also of major importance, and are building blocks to the achievement of your objectives.

The Aim, Objectives, Outcomes, and Activities are essentially the different levels of your work. If you use different words in your organization (and especially if you receive funding, and have to report to a donor from a different country), try to be flexible. The most important thing is to have a clear understanding of the concepts - what means what, in your organization at that time.

Overall Aim (Or Goal)

The overall aim (often called a ‘goal’) is the ultimate, long-term improvement you want to see from your advocacy work. The achievement of an aim is dependent on many factors, of which your organization’s work is only one. The aim should be long-term (often two - four years) and general enough to capture the vision of the campaign but focused enough to develop an effective strategy. The aim should:

  • Be easily understandable and communicated
  • Inspire people to take action
  • Help build alliances and coalitions


Objectives describe the intended changes that you want to see in the shorter term (one to three years). An advocacy objective will be to change the policies or positions of government or institutions. The changes are specific, and contribute to meeting the general Aim. When you write possible objectives, you are searching for the most effective ways of reaching your aim. There will always be a choice of objectives that need to be evaluated before final decisions on strategy are taken.

Objectives should be clear, concise and measurable. They can be understood as the critical success criteria – what your organization must get right in order to succeed in its advocacy campaign. It should be possible to measure progress against an advocacy objective.

Advocacy Tools

Tools to clarify your objectives:
15. Pathways of Influence
24. The Bridge
 When used well, this tool can be used to lead into the development of objectives, which ensure that all critical success factors can be achieved.
25. Approaches for Effective Policy Engagement
A table providing suggested solutions to key obstacles encountered by NGOs in policy engagement.

How many objectives?

Focus is a key determinant of success of an advocacy campaign. You are better off with fewer objectives rather than more. Two or three clear objectives generally suffice.

Are your objectives SMART?

Your objectives should aim to be SMART, which means:

  • Specific – for example, in stating precisely what will be done
  • Measurable - for example, to allow program learning and review
  • Achievable – for example, in relation to your potential capacity and experience
  • Relevant – for example, for your vision, mission and aim
  • Time-bound – for example, in relation to when the work will be done

In the real world it may be difficult to achieve making your objectives wholly SMART. However the exercise of trying to make your objectives SMART will always improve them.

Strategic analysis should develop naturally into ideas about different strategic approaches. There will always be a choice of objectives that need to be evaluated before final decisions on strategy are taken.

Finally, you need to evaluate your options in order to decide on your strategy. Your evaluation should be based on factors that are important to your issue and organization. Some key success factors are dealt with below – in ‘Advocacy Success’.

You may also take into account factors such as the ability of the strategy to provide leverage and/or ‘multiplier effects’. A skillfully developed strategy can bring about far-reaching change – for example, by providing a working example that can be replicated.

You will also need to consider focus and prioritization in order to develop a stepwise campaign. Focus is a key determinant of success of an advocacy campaign.

Advocacy Tools

Tools to clarify your objectives:
15. Pathways of Influence
24. The Bridge
 When used well, this tool can be used to lead into the development of objectives, which ensure that all critical success factors can be achieved.
25. Approaches for Effective Policy Engagement
A table providing suggested solutions to key obstacles encountered by NGOs in policy engagement.


Outcomes are the tangible changes that result from a set of activities, and contribute to the achievement of an objective. They may be changes in behavior of people or organizations/partners as well as policy changes.

Once you have decided upon specific objectives and outcomes, you need to set indicators against which to measure progress. Indicators are pieces of evidence that show how far an objective or outcome has been achieved.


Activities (or actions) are the detail of what needs to be done to achieve a planned outcome.

An Illustration: A Journey Around the World

   The aim is to travel around the world in 3 years, seeing as much of the world as your budget allows.
   Objectives are to visit five countries each year (with countries listed for first year); to visit at least four places in each country
   The outcomes are passport stamps, photos, work experience, travel experience etc.?
   The specific activities (actions) are research flights/boats/trains etc. and accommodation, make bookings, draw up travel plan, obtain passport, obtain insurance, travel, find work, etc.

Once you have set your Aim, Objectives Outcomes and Indicators you will want to think about timing and who will do what. Common activities include joining networks, forming coalitions, arranging lobby meetings, seminars and conferences, doing policy briefings, research, setting up exposure visits, making targeted use of messages; media work; campaigning events such as supporter actions or demonstrations etc.

These activities are described in more detail in future modules. Some will be more appropriate for your organization and issue, and others less so.

Making an approximate budget will force you to be realistic about what you can attempt. Some advocacy can be carried out without spending much money. Assess how much (if any) funds you have for the advocacy. If you have very little, you will have to rely on volunteer input for many of the tasks, and will probably be more interested in working jointly with other NGOs. If you do have some funding for the work, you will be more able to hold some public events, or print publications, to strengthen your case. Your costings may cause you to decide that you have to fundraise to have the resources you need.

The main elements of your strategy that need to be incorporated into your action planning are:

  • Objectives
  • Outcomes
  • Indicators
  • Activities
  • Timing
  • Responsibility
  • Resources

Advocacy Tool

27. Logframe
This tool provides a project management framework that can be used as a basis for monitoring and evaluation, and as a communications tool. It is an important and often-used tool.

Key 'Asks' - Messages

The key ‘asks’ are simply your demands – the policy change that you want to achieve. They are tailored messages to persuade target audiences through selected channels. Your advocacy asks come from the recommendations from issue research. Ideally you will have three to five key messages that are relevant to all stakeholders. (Other more specific messages can then be decided upon later for each of your key targets.)

Think about your issue from the perspective of your audience. What do they need to hear to make the change you want? Your message is your ‘ask’, and should be clear, true, and persuasive to the group you are trying to influence.

Your message will sound very different depending on who gives it. In general, the most effective messengers are those who can speak from personal experience, professionals who have credibility in the field, and those who have a special connection with your target audience.

Your message will also sound different if delivered in a private meeting than it would at a protest. Think about how your audience would receive your group in different contexts. You may start with something small and move to a more public forum if you have not achieved the results you want.

When thinking about each of these questions, also take into account your resources – group members, networking and alliances to reinforce your political strength, information, money, etc.

Below is a table that you could include in your strategy:

Message/Objective Target Action we want to take Medium of transmitting message Messenger

A Pathway to Success

For larger organizations choosing a number of advocacy issues, it is also important to choose a good ‘advocacy issue mix’ – for example, one major issues, one ‘gateway issue’ (to attract people into the organization and/or to the wider issues) and at least one issue with a high likelihood of success (in the not too distant future).

When charting a pathway to success, it is necessary to decide not only to decide on your strategic approaches, but also the best order and approach for these. The following is an example for animal experimentation:

Final Consultation and Dissemination of Plan

The strategy process provides a path to follow and results in an ‘Advocacy Strategy Document’ – a paper to be circulated to your colleagues. The document shows your allies what you are hoping to achieve and how. You should share the draft with other staff or stakeholders and get their feedback and comments before you finalize it. You can assess your draft strategy against the checklist below.

Advocacy Success

The following is a check-list to determine whether your advocacy is likely to succeed:

  • Likelihood of success
    • Is the objective achievable? Even with opposition?
    • Do qualitative or quantitative data exist which show that reaching the objective will result in real improvements in the situation?
  • Potential impact of success
  • Potential for networking and alliances
    • Will many people support the strategy? Do people care about the objective deeply enough to take action?
    • Do you have the alliances with key individuals or organizations needed to achieve your objective?
    • Will the objective help build alliances with other sectors, NGOs, leaders, or stakeholders? Which ones?
  • Cost/resources needed
    • What are the costs of the selected strategy? Will the anticipated benefits justify the efforts and resources expended?
    • Do you have the skills and expertise needed to achieve the objective? Or can these be built?
    • Do you have sufficient resources to ensure completion of the strategy?
    • Will you be able to raise money or other resources to support your work on the objective?
  • Time it will take - realistically
  • Fit with your organization’s values and ways of working
  • Impact upon your organization’s reputation
    • Will the selected strategy help to promote and achieve your overall vision and mission?
    • Will the objective help to achieve positive publicity and profile?
    • Will the objective help to build your organization’s credibility?

There are ten key elements of a successful strategy:

  1. The urgency, importance and moral force of the issue
  2. The quality of the analysis and arguments – presenting realistic alternatives whenever possible
  3. The reputation and credibility of the advocacy organization
  4. Clear and focused objectives
  5. A learning culture – monitoring progress, adapting tactics and evaluating results
  6. The ability and capacity to mobilize pressure at many levels and at key influencing opportunities
  7. Strong advocacy leadership backed by senior management
  8. The ability to work with and through others in networks and alliances
  9. Flexibility, responsiveness and political opportunism
  10. Recruiting influential audiences in support of your campaign e.g. mass media, general public

Producing a Strategy Document


Timescale to Develop an Advocacy Strategy
Structure of Strategy Document


Usually to develop an Advocacy Strategy you will hold a strategy workshop – or at least a series of meetings with other colleagues. The more participatory the strategic process is (within limits), the greater the likelihood of commitment to the end strategy.


Engage an expert facilitator: If you are new to strategic planning, it may be desirable to have a facilitator to run a Strategic Planning workshop(s) for you. They can design and manage the process, mediate between differing factions, and handle the varied concerns of participants.

If this is not possible, share out tasks between various members of your group.

Keep it simple: Design and use a simple process without too many tools. Use just a few of the tools provided for this course. Also, use simple terminology where possible, and clarify commonly used terms before beginning, to avoid misunderstanding.

Timescale to Develop an Advocacy Strategy

There is no definitive time scale for running a process but we recommend the following as a minimum:


Background research and planning (identifying stakeholders and deciding on level of involvement/consultation; examining existing situation and internal organizational experiences; external environment/relevant policy context, designing the participative process etc.). At least two days.

Participative strategy process:

This is the key workshop stage for strategic analysis and decision-making. Aim for as much participation as possible from key stakeholders, but within budget and resource constraints. At least two days (more if board, staff and key stakeholders are consulted separately).


Writing up the draft strategy. Two days. Tip - do it as soon as possible after the workshop, before you forget the discussions).


Draft strategy sent out to all those who may have some role/responsibility in delivering the strategy or whose input/advice would be valuable. At least a two-week consultation period.


Collate and review comments, make necessary amendments to the strategy to create final document, send out final strategy document. One day.

Structure of Strategy Document

The following is a basic structure you can follow. Do not let it get too long or no-one will read it.

  • Clear Title and Contents Page
  • Short Introduction and Methodology
  • Advocacy Issue
  • Context Analysis – a description of the environment and what it means for the advocacy
  • Problem and Solution
  • Advocacy Aim/Goal
  • Advocacy Objectives
  • Advocacy Ask(s)
  • Risk Analysis
  • Appendix with analysis tables, action plan, budget narrative etc.

If you want other parts, it might be best to put them in as Annexes

More Articles ...

  1. What Is Advocacy Strategy?

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