Part 12 in a series by Marissa Goldfaden as she works her way through “Introduction to minority rights, regional human rights mechanisms, and minority rights advocacy,” a new online course offered to the public free of charge by Minority Rights Group International. The course’s stated objectives are to introduce concepts of minority rights and discrimination, develop awareness and understanding of international and regional mechanisms for minority rights, and improve practical skills in lobbying and advocacy.
This is the first of two topics explaining how to carry out advocacy campaigns. The first topic introduces advocacy. It shows how to identify problems that need to be addressed through advocacy, and how to set goals for a campaign.
Topic 10: Guide to advocacy campaigns, Part 1
Section 1: What is advocacy?
Advocacy is defined as the process of changing, or trying to change or influence, laws, policies or practices.
Advocacy involves the following nine steps:
- Identifying the problem.
- Understanding one’s own organization.
- Understanding the environment.
- Devising goals.
- Identifying target audiences.
- Creating the messages.
- Creating the strategy.
- Carrying out the strategy.
- Measuring the outcome.
Section 2: Analysis of the problem
It is important for activists or NGOs to first understand the problem to be addressed through advocacy. Notes MRG, “At this stage, it is very important to involve the minority or indigenous community: Activists should listen to the human rights issues that community members raise and what their priorities are.”
Some considerations in understanding the nature of the problem
- Extent of problem
- Social attitudes
- Level of awareness
- Access to justice
- Legal framework
Section 3: Analysis of the environment – internal and external
Having identified the problem that needs addressing through advocacy, activists and NGOs must next understand the environment in which they are going to be working. This process involves analyzing both the NGO for which the activist works, and the general situation.
Internal (i.e. organizational) analysis
This element contains two main points.
What can the activist’s organization work on, and what is it not allowed to work on?
The answers to these questions will depend on:
- The organization’s charter or constitution, if it has one
- The organization’s board and its decisions
- National legislation and government regulations
2. Resources, both financial and human
It will be important to establish the following:
- What are the organization’s strengths and weaknesses?
- Is the organization too small to carry out a large-scale campaign?
- What is the organization’s capacity for given areas of work?
When looking at the external environment, it is important to identify the following four groups of people: stakeholders, supporters, potential allies, and obstacles.
Stakeholders are those persons who have an interest in the advocacy campaign. They can be directly involved and/or affected by it. They may also influence the campaign and its outcomes. A clear group of stakeholders when advocating on behalf of minority rights are the members of a minority community themselves.
Supporters are people who are not stakeholders but are in favor of the work. They may include members of other communities or the majority who favor the outcome being sought. Supporters may also be drawn if the campaign seeks a change in the law that will benefit another community too.
Allies are supporters who can influence the outcome, such as university professors, journalists, politicians, and government officials.
Obstacles are those people who will work against the campaign.
Section 4: Setting ‘SMART’ goals
Having analyzed the environment, the next step in an advocacy campaign is to choose its goals. A useful tool for identifying appropriate goals is SMART, an acronym for the following words:
Specific – it is important to be as precise as possible when identifying a goal(s).
Measurable – there must be a way of identifying how the goal has been achieved or how advancement has been made towards it.
Agreed upon – consultation is conducted with stakeholders and everyone is agreed that these goals are important.
Realistic – depending on the organization’s resources and the situation in the country, the goals should be achievable.
Time-bound – a deadline for the strategy is required.
Outputs are the activities that you do, while outcomes are the achievements that you make. Sub-goals can also be incorporated as a way of measuring success.