How to Craft an Effective Advocacy Strategy for Policy Change

How to Craft an Effective Advocacy Strategy for Policy Change

We recently hosted an insightful webinar that focused on the importance of associations having a strategy in place when addressing policy advocacy and campaigns. In case you missed it, we’ve wrapped up some valuable takeaways to help make the advocacy process more efficient and effective when implementing policy change for your organisation. 

What Is an Advocacy Strategy? 

In a nutshell, advocacy aims to produce policy change. It involves a structured strategy and campaign designed to influence policymakers and achieve specific goals.  

Some of the foundations of an advocacy strategy should include: 

  • Government actors, knowing who the right people are and building your network 
  • Government cycles, understanding when and where is the right time to start your policy campaigns and addressing the issue 
  • Government processes can vary from being a slow process to fast to enact. Understanding the different ways and time frames these government bodies work helps with the planning process. 

The Four Elements of Great Policy Advice 

Creating a strong policy strategy and advocacy campaign is about getting the basics right and not over complicating it. This piece of advice can help set your organisation up for success without making the process stressful and over complicated. 

Here are the key things to consider: 

  • Clear on intent: understand the policy problem the advocacy campaign is trying to provide a solution for. You also be able to articulate the problem easily, if not then you may need to look at rewording it, so it is succinct and easy to understand 
  • Well-informed: understand and know your sector, the policy problem and your competitors. Take the time to collaborate with stakeholders and consider the wider policy context for now and into the future 
  • Practical to implement: the solution to the policy problem addressed through the advocacy strategy needs to be practical, evidence based, and can work in the real world. You may need to also consider having multiple solutions to present 
  • Influential: have a strong understanding of your target audience, identify what is their motivation and present a variety of solutions to the policy problem. 

Balancing Advocacy Strategies  

Advocacy strategies can be categorised into short-run and long-thread approaches, each with its own characteristics and requirements. Short-run advocacy demands immediate action and high member buy-in. It is often very resource intensive and can amplify gaps in stakeholder relationships and knowledge. Short-run work is also optional, so keep in mind that not all member requests necessitate immediate action. 

Long-thread advocacy involves preparing for future issues that may become important down the track. It allows time to build relationships and alliances, ensuring you're not starting from scratch when the issue gains attention. This approach means you are strategically prepared for upcoming policy changes and can respond proactively. 

Prioritising Resources for Advocacy 

 Advocacy can often require working on several campaigns at once and may become challenging as to where you place your time, effort and resources. This is a guide which breaks down the priorities 

  • Priority 1 Focus: these are the critical, urgent and strategically aligned tasks 
  • Priority 2: Maintain: tasks which are important but not urgent. These are issues which may require constant background monitoring  
  • Priority 3: Prepare: these priorities are predicted to become more urgent in the future. For example, future amendments to policy that have been announced 
  • Priority 4: Develop: lastly these are the priorities that drive innovation. They are proactively shaping the advocacy and policy environment your organisation works in  

Key Takeaways 

There’s a mix of different actions that you can start implementing to help with advocacy in your organisation. Advocacy is a long game and success comes from being strategic, having a clear plan, building those vital relationships with stakeholders and having continuous clear communication, especially with your members. 

By following these guides, your association can help to effectively influence policy change and achieve their advocacy goals.  

Need Help? 

Get in touch today to see how we can provide the guidance and knowledge to help empower your association with its advocacy plans and campaigns today.