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Introduction to Advocacy Strategy Planning

The word ‘strategy’ is so often used in today’s language that we may get to a point where we are not really sure of its exact meaning. While there are many definitions of strategy, we selected the definition that the University of Illinois has on its website1).

“Strategy is a framework guiding those choices that determine the nature and direction to attain the objective”.

Organizational strategy planning implies long-term planning with specific activities. It assumes that things will more or less follow a certain path. In advocacy strategy planning, the variables are often great and almost impossible to anticipate. It is often difficult to anticipate whom you might win on your side and whom you will have for opponents. You may often be surprised by “wild cards” those opponents may throw your way, and that you will have to respond to on very short notice. This is why having a flexible structure to change strategies quickly should the need arise, is an important tool in your survival strategy toolkit.

The last thing you want to have in your advocacy work is a plan that restricts you rather than a plan that gets the best out of you and your team. Having a clear, flexible, yet participatory, mechanism to change your strategy quickly is likely one of the most permanent components of your strategy plan.

This module introduces a number of advocacy strategic analysis tools that should help you (as a group and/or coalition) do the following steps. It is important to note that the following steps are not in any way linear, but they are organically related to one another. Any change in one or more of these points probably leads to change in the other points.

  • Identify and prioritize the problems/issues you should/can address
  • Analyze the root causes of the problem
  • Assess your group’s/network’s ability to address this (these) issue(s) in relation to your vision and mission statements
  • Study the environment in which the issue exists
  • Analyze the stakeholders that may affect the situation either positively or negatively
  • Develop , or rather craft, an advocacy strategy that not only best deals with the issue and address the root causes of the problem/issue, but also helps the powerless and marginalized to realize that they have power, and use it to effectively participate in the decision making processes at all levels.
1) Glossary, University of Illinois. http://www.ds.uillinois.edu/web/Home/Glossary.aspx#Strategy. Accessed on Feb. 5, 2007.

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