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leveraging analysis
Advocacy: Promoting Policy Change

From: Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change (Sprechmann and Pelton, 2001)

  • Objective: Advocacy is a strategy to influence policy makers when they make laws and regulations, distribute resources, and make other decisions that affect people's lives.   The principal aims of advocacy are to create policies, reform policies, and ensure policies are implemented. 
  • Materials/Preparation: This process should be informed by policy analysis.





1. Select a Policy Issue

Prioritize among policy issues

  • Relative contribution of the policy to the problem
  • Potential impact on a large number of people
  • Likelihood of success
  • Potential for working in coalitions
  • Potential risk
  • Potential for CARE to advocate effectively

2. Select target audiences

  • Who are potential target audiences, that is, who can help to bring about the policy change you hope to achieve?
  • Who has authority to make these changes? Who are potential primary audiences?
  • Who has the greatest ability to influence the  decisions of your primary audience?
  • Which primary and secondary audiences will you select for your advocacy initiative?

3. Set a policy goal

  • What should your advocacy initiative accomplish?
  • Who will make that change? By when will this change be achieved?
  • Can you clearly articulate the final or impact goal for your advocacy initiative?
  • Can you clearly articulate policy goals at the effect level?

4. Identify allies and opponents

  • Which other organizations, groups and individuals are concerned or already working on the same policy issue?
  • Do coalitions exist or do they need to be established?
  • How can you contribute to the efforts of other organizations?
  • What role do these organizations want CARE to play and what contribution do they expect from you?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of forming alliances or coalitions with each of them?
  • Do other organizations see CARE as a value adding partner/ally?
  • Are there any organizations, groups or individuals that oppose the proposed policy change?
  • What threat do these organizations, groups and individuals pose to the success of your advocacy initiative?
  • What can you do to reduce the influence of opponents?

5. Select an advocacy role

  • What is your best choice for exerting influence on your target audiences?
  • Can you use your relationships with  policy makers for providing technical advice on policy issues (expert informant)?
  • Do you want to take a visible approach and address your target audience personally (lobby)?
  • Can you support other organizations in their efforts to carry out advocacy (capacity builder)?
  • Can you broker competing interests of various groups and through mediation achieve policy change (honest broker)?
  • Will you use a public approach via the media, or a private approach such as face-to-face meetings?

6. Identify key messages

  • What do you want your target audience to hear?
  • What policy change would you like your target audience to support?
  • What specific actions do you want your audience to take?
  • How can you convey that to your audience?

7. Define advocacy activities

  • What steps do you have to take to convey your messages to your target audiences?
  • What activities need to be carried out in order to achieve your policy goal?
  • How can you most successfully convey messages to your target audience: working through the media or coalitions, arranging site visits or meetings, writing a letter, other tactics?

8. Frame a plan

Set a timeline:

  • How long will it take to achieve your policy goals?
  • Is the policy environment likely to change quickly?
  • How flexible is your timeline?

Prepare a budget:

  • What are the costs of your planned activities? Have you included unexpected expenses? Have you considered all budget categories?
  • From which sources can you obtain funding for your advocacy initiative? What donors have funded advocacy initiatives as part of relief and development programs in your country/region?
  • What are the priorities for donors that have funded advocacy? Are they interested in particular issues? Are they interested in specific groups of the population? Do they have a geographical focus? What type of advocacy initiatives have they recently funded? What amounts were provided to those initiatives? How can you find out more about a donor?  Who at your office knows?  Do you have any other contacts that may facilitate access to a donor?

Prepare a logframe:

  • Do you have all elements you need for summarizing your advocacy initiative in a logframe?
  • Can you clearly articulate impact and effect goals, outputs and activities?
  • What indicators can you use for measuring the progress of your initiative towards achieving goals and results? 
  • Where can you obtain information on your progress?

9. Plan for monitoring and evaluation


  • Have your target audiences changed their knowledge, attitudes, awareness or opinions regarding your policy issue?  Where can you get this information?
  • Can you easily update policy maps?
  • Can you track your activities, such as the number of messages sent to your target audience?
  • Have political conditions changed since you planned your initiative?
  • Does monitoring data indicate that your activities have achieved the desired outputs?  If not, does monitoring information help you decide how to adjust, revise or re-direct activities.


  • To what extent has your advocacy initiative achieved impact and effect goals? 
  • Can impact be measured at the end of your advocacy initiative or not?
  • Can you determine what made policy makers change their opinions and actions?
  • What lessons can be learned for your next advocacy initiatives?

10. Develop and Deliver Message

Pick the best format

  • What format is most likely to reach your  target audience?
  • What format will best enable you to tell your story?

Craft a message that tells your story

  • Have you addressed the what, why, and impact of your policy proposal?
  • Have you thought about how your audience is likely to receive your message?
  • How can you simplify your message? 

Know your target audience

  • Have you considered the following about your target audience?
    • Their political interests: What group of people do they represent
    • What they already know: Are you telling them something they already know? What NEW information are you offering?
    • Whether they already have an opinion: What is it, how strongly held? Have they already voted or taken public position on your issue?
    • What objections they might have: Do you see a need to clear up any misconceptions or counter opposing arguments?
    • Their personal interests: What are their hobbies or passions outside of work? What do they do in their spare time?
    • Any bias suggested by their background: Can you link your issue to something you know they do support?

Network for information

  • Have you asked people within CARE for information, contacts, and ideas?
  • Have you asked your external contacts for information, contacts, and ideas?

Check message for clarity

  • Will your target audience know exactly what to do next if they agree with you?
  • Have you used accessible language free of jargon?
  • Are the benefits of your proposal clear?

Establish or reaffirm your credibility

  • Have you developed some expertise on the issue?
  • Do you have documentation?
  • Have you picked the best messenger?

Reinforce messages

  • Have you tried to respond to any concerns expressed by your audience?
  • Have you delivered your message more than once?
  • Have you adapted your message based on the latest information?
  • Have you thanked your audience for their attention or assistance?
For effective advocacy, communications, negotiations and managing risk are essential. For further guidance on these critical areas for policy change, please consult Chapter 10 of the Advocacy Tools and Guidelines Handbook.