We often hear about advocacy, and sometimes we who operate in the faith context or from faith based organisation are unsure of our involvement in advocacy issues.
Over the last months, the CABSA staff thought and talked about this quite a bit.
We are increasingly realising the overall theme of everything we do is in fact ‘advocacy’. An advocacy role can be seen from different perspectives. Many different definitions exist for advocacy. To start with, I looked at the following:
Social Welfare Forum: "Advocacy means any action geared towards changing the policies, positions or programmes of any type of institution. Advocacy is about identifying a problem in a community, coming up with a solution to that problem, establishing strong support for that solution and providing an effective implementation plan."
Merriam -Webster Online Dictionary: "Advocating: the act or process of advocating or supporting a cause or proposal
Advocate = support (1): to promote the interests or cause of (2): to uphold or defend as valid or right (3): to argue or vote for."
CABSA sees very specific added dimensions to advocacy in faith based contexts. We verbalised this as firstly “Standing in the Gap” and secondly “Being a Prophetic Voice.”
Join CABSA as we continue to explore this theme in future. In this section we will highlight different opinions and approaches to advocacy and specific themes around which advocacy is necessary.
Lyn's Comment: A very prominent advocacy voice in faith communities is the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, based in Geneva, Switzerland. CABSA has been working with the Alliance in various ways and are official members of the Alliance.
"The aim of the Policy Engagement programme of the National Welfare Forum is to ensure public participation in the formulation of social service, welfare and development policies. The ultimate goal is to not represent civil society but to facilitate the process for members to coordinate and represent themselves."
Lyn's Comment: The material below is taken from various parts of the Participant Handout for the Policy Engagement programme, which can be downloaded from the Forum website The Participant Handout 2009 can also be downloaded
What Is Advocacy?
Advocacy means any action geared towards changing the policies, positions or programmes of any type of institution. Advocacy is about identifying a problem in a community, coming up with a solution to that problem, establishing strong support for that solution and providing an effective implementation plan.
Lobbying influential people for support is part of the advocacy process.
When the beneficiary is an individual the advocacy effort could be considered as Private Advocacy. When the advocacy aims to benefit the public at large, or a large group of individuals, it could be regarded as Public Advocacy. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish public advocacy from private advocacy.
Sometimes public advocacy efforts stem from private advocacy initiatives. Most advocacy conducted by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) is public advocacy.
Examples of Private Advocacy:
When an individual campaigns for street lighting in their neighbourhood to prevent crime; When an individual campaigns for a bus stop in the neighbourhood.
Examples of Public Advocacy:
When organisations come together to launch a specific effort to combat crime in business, ego Business Against Crime; When several organisations come together to improve road safety or public transport.
What is Social Justice Advocacy?
Social justice advocacy is public advocacy that draws attention to an injustice and promotes the public good. It focuses attention on improving the well-being of the poor and marginalised members of the community, for example, women, children, workers, the disabled, etc.
What is Lobbying?
Lobbying comes from the verb "to lobby", which means an attempt by citizens to influence public officials at a high level. Lobbying is one of the most common methods used by citizens to influence public policy. It is used to put pressure on politicians and government officials to take up the interests of the people and to support their cause. In most democracies lobbying is recognised as a legitimate way for citizens to have their voices heard. However, critics of lobbying say that wealthy people and business are better able to spend time on and pay for various lobbying activities.
It is useful to remember that there are long term and short term goals in advocacy work. The long term goal relates to the change the campaign wants to make in people’s lives. It is known as the Impact goal. This goal reflects the problem the campaign wants to address.
Usually this change is only policy if a law changes or a new law/policy is developed. This change in the legislation or system is the short term goal on the journey toward solving the problem. It is known as the Effect goal and it usually describes the decision that the decision maker is called on to take. These goals are met through an interactive process known as the cycle of advocacy. The stages in the advocacy cycle do not necessarily follow a specific order and often the campaign shifts from implementation mode back to redefining the problem as the campaign progresses and more information about the problem or stakeholders emerges.
The Advocacy Cycle
‘Just as humans seek a dignity that says not by bread alone, so we as (social) advocates must work to effect change not by elections alone, not by mass mobilisation alone, not by lobbying alone, not by information alone, not by coalition alone, not by media alone and not by anything else alone.’ (Michael Pertschuk, Advocacy Institute, USA)
The advocacy process may involve any combination of the above approaches.
The effectiveness and success of any advocacy process depends, amongst other factors, on how well the following processes are implemented:
Analysis includes collective brainstorming of the problem which can be carried out in the form of a detailed problem tree analysis. The output of this exercise will form the basis for the advocacy approach to be developed later. During this stage research about the problem environment is critical to develop a comprehensive picture of the dimensions of the problem. This could merely entail the reference and synthesis of research already undertaken by other institutions, or the commissioning of tailor-made research.
Strategy Development entails making a realistic selection from the dream list of policy options already identified during policy analysis, and then prioritising based on what is realistic and expedient in terms of maximum outcome for minimum inputs. During this stage, the organization will also identify key stakeholders and possible strategic partners to engage.
Implementation refers to the operationalisation of the advocacy strategy to ensure that responsible individuals or teams are clearly mandated with specific tasks. Even though advocacy should be an organization-wide undertaking, the location of coordination and leadership around specific tasks is necessary to ensure that activities are carried out as planned and on time. Ideally, the advocacy plan should be integrated into the broader organizational and team work plans.
Evaluation and Review refers to the monitoring of advocacy and lobbying outcomes in relation to stated goals: How far have we come in relation to where we want to be and what further actions are needed to realize our goals? Was the strategy realistic, or does it require some strategic adjustment on our part?
It is necessary to clarify the role that your organisation will play to achieve your policy goal. There are mainly four roles to consider:
1. Expert informant – Can you use your relationships with policy makers for providing technical advice on policy issues?
2. Capacity Builder – Can you support other organisations in their efforts to carry out advocacy?
3. Lobbyist – Do you want to take a visible approach and address your target audience personally?
4. Mediator – Can you broker competing interests of various groups and through mediation achieve policy change?"