Strategy is a roadmap. It begins where you are and takes you where you want to go, through a route that is plausible. Civil society organizations (CSOs) seeking to persuade the government to take action to address a particular issue need to have a strategy for doing so.
The process of strategy development begins with the identification of a clear issue, determining whether the issue is a “budget issue,” and then identifying a clear objective for budget work and the strategy for attaining that objective. The process of strategy development also involves taking a clear reading on the policy and political environment in which that budget objective needs to be won.
Evaluation and Adjustment
Engaging in budget advocacy means diving into the core of the political decision-making process. The path to achieving your objectives is hardly clear from the beginning. While envisioning a complete set of activities is always helpful, you still will need to evaluate your planned activities based on how the anticipated and unanticipated stakeholders react to your initial activities. A critical part of your strategy is building a mechanism for evaluating how your efforts go and readjusting your plans to fit the new developments. Some of these changes might need to be very swift. Here are some of the questions you will need to address as part of your strategy:
- What are the signs that will tell you that you should change the strategy?
- Who should be involved in the readjustment process?
- How to communicate these changes to your constituencies and to other stakeholders as needed?
Resources and Tools for Developing Advocacy Strategies
- The Handbook for Advocacy Planning, produced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation and available in English and Spanish, features 13 training modules that serve as a step-by-step guide to designing and implementing successful advocacy campaigns in a variety of contexts.
- “Crafting Your Advocacy Strategy” (an excerpt from A New Weave of Power, People & Politics. The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation, by Lisa VeneKlassen and Valerie Miller) presents various strategies and tools to help with planning your advocacy.
- Powercube.net contains practical and conceptual materials to help us think about how to respond to power relations within organizations and in wider social and political spaces. The website provides resources for analyzing power and strategizing for action.
- Use the “Smart Chart” by Spitfire Communications to plan your campaign. This interactive tool was designed for organizations to use in planning strategic communications.