Advocacy: What Came First, the Chicken or the Budget?
Advocacy Budget: Defining Your Bottom Line Will Save You Time and Money
I know you’re on the edge of your seats, but this is really no chicken and the egg conundrum I’m about to solve for you. When you’re looking to develop an advocacy program, your budget should always come first. This is because you can develop a program that is scalable to almost any scenario.
So let’s break it down. The problem, in an eggshell (I’ll be here all week), is that when a client comes to me and wants me to put together a program for them, but doesn’t have a number, I take a shot in the dark. It’s really not of much use to the client for me to come back with a $50,000 plan if they only want to spend $10,000. While I’m always happy to try to be helpful, this back and forth often eats up valuable time when it comes to a client’s advocacy program.
It may feel like giving a consultant a hard budget number is like laying all your cards on the table, and that can be an uncomfortable position to be in. This is why it’s important to work with people that you trust, and why it’s important to do some research, both about the consultant and what they’re proposing to do (e.g. if someone suggests you buy an existing list of email addresses, you probably want to ask more questions, as that’s not a great use of anyone’s money). The world of advocacy is small – if you don’t have a preexisting relationship, chances are you know someone who knows someone who can provide some insight when it comes to a consultant’s methods and reputation.
The other important point here is that the budget number you give doesn’t have to be the end all be all in the program – it can change. What’s really needed is a bottom line, a figure that you know you can and will spend on a particular project.
Know your budget in advance and be able to bottom-line it. It will save you time and help you to create a better, more efficient advocacy program.