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.