5 Steps to Follow for a Strategic Advocacy Campaign

advocacy strategies

Author: Kate Jahries

Strategy Drives Tactics and Goals For an Advocacy Campaign

If you’re planning an advocacy campaign, it means that you must be pretty passionate about something. Advocacy campaigns, while often long and frustrating, have had a huge impact on our political system. With some careful planning and a lot of resilience, you can make the change you want to see in the world actually happen. But advocacy campaign planners beware! If you don’t take the time to carefully pinpoint your exact goals and examine what the landscape currently looks like, you risk designing an advocacy campaign that’s unstrategic. In order to make sure each tactic you employ has the best shot at leading you towards a win, follow these 5 steps (in this order!) from the Midwest Academy:

1. Goals

  • Start by writing down your overarching goal, but don’t stop there! The most strategic advocacy campaigns recognize that change is incremental. You should identify several short term goals that fit into the larger picture and can count as wins along the way.
  • Make sure you’re clear about what achieving your goal will actually do. Try to make your campaign about more than spreading awareness whenever possible: What will be the outcome? Who will it effect? What’s the point?

2. Organizational Considerations

  • This step should result in a giant list with lots of numbers! List out every single resource you have: staff, facilities, tools, etc. What’s your budget? How much do you think you’ll be able to raise? Everything on this list should include quantity. This will give you a baseline idea of who and what you have to work with.
  • Next, take a moment to consider whether there are any problems internally within your campaign that need to be addressed if you’re going to succeed. Don’t start off on the wrong foot.

3. Constituents, Allies, and Opponents

  • First, think about who will have a positive interest in your advocacy issue. Which groups might be willing to partner with you? What kinds of resources or support might they be able to contribute to the campaign?
  • Next, consider who will likely be opposed to your advocacy campaign. How much power do they have? Are they likely to fight back, and how? Who do they influence?

4. Targets

  • Who exactly has the power to make what you want happen? I say "exactly" because this needs to be a single person, not a group or organization. If you’re worried about fake news on social media, it would be pretty difficult to try to influence all of Facebook. You wouldn’t know where to direct your efforts. It’s a lot easier to say you want to influence Mark Zuckerberg. Know who you’re targeting.
  • Sometimes, you don’t have much clout with your primary target, or your efforts aren’t working on them. That’s why you need to identify a secondary target. This person is someone who has more of a connection to, or power over, your primary target than you do. By working with them, you might have a better shot at ultimately getting through to your true target. In the Mark Zuckerberg example, your secondary target might be a senior level engineer at Facebook.

5. Tactics

  • Tactics are an action that is planned based on what you know about your goals, your organization’s resources, support and opposition, and targets. Do not decide on a tactic before thinking through the other categories! Your tactic will not be as strategic for your advocacy campaign.
  • Tactics are directed at a specific target for a specific purpose. Ask yourself: Does this make sense? Doing something just because you can isn’t a good enough reason to do it. Your advocacy campaign should be designed to trigger the desired response from your targets.
  • Possible tactics include, but are not limited to; press events, meetings with key influencers, elections, marches, hearings, etc.

The Midwest Academy has been at the forefront of progressive organizing for decades. Follow their strategy for designing a great advocacy campaign, and you might just have a shot.

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