How to Develop an Advocacy and Lobbying Plan

Are you a civil society organisation whose team feels that your programme area could receive better attention from policymakers, regulators, the government, and the general public? Would you benefit from a better understanding of advocacy and lobbying methods that have the power to bring attention and lasting change?

Then please read on.

Advocacy is the process of raising voices in an effective manner so as to influence others. This is done by educating and creating or increasing awareness among the general public, government, and policymakers, or other entities such as private corporations, on issues, laws, programmes, and projects to address the need.

It is important to note that advocacy is a process rather than a product. A means, rather than an end. It is a means to empower the marginalised and powerless to gain a better policy environment with implications for implementation of policies. The result of this process, or “product” could be better laws, policies, programmes, or projects in a community that reflects the interests of the people.

We have summarised this process in ten quick and clear steps to help you formulate and implement your advocacy and lobbying plan.

1. Defining the advocacy challenge: The first step in formulating an advocacy plan involves determining and articulating the audience challenge you want to meet. This is done by asking internally and coming up with the answer to questions like:

  • What is the issue I want to advocate for?
  • Why is it important?
  • What do I want to achieve after successfully advocating for the issue?

2. Determining key audiences: Here you formulate the audiences you would like to reach in your advocacy plan. These can be government officials, policymakers, regulators, members of the private sector, and the general public. 

3. Determining what they know about the advocacy issue: After determining your audience, press forward by mapping what they know about the advocacy issue, how well they know it, and their previous interaction with the issue at hand. This can be done by visiting their digital platforms, speaking to contacts you have worked with in the audience group, and reviewing any position statements they may have put in the public domain.

4. Determining how they receive their information: This is a critical point in your advocacy advocacy and lobbying plan. Whether it is the use of digital platforms, stakeholder meetings, key contacts, and/or face-to-face interaction with key decision makers, it is important that you know how they receive information important for the running of their affairs, not just the issue you are planning to advocate. Using sources of high trust works better in executing advocacy plans than hit-and-miss efforts.

5. Key Measurable Objectives: Next is identifying the markers to know if and how much you have succeeded in your advocacy efforts. This is done by laying down some measure objectives of the plan linked with quantifiable success indicators.

6. Message Points: In the sixth step, you formulate the message needed for each audience group you identified in step 2. Your messaging must be tailored to each audience group and respond to their interests in the issue and/or collective gain to be achieved from the implementation of the advocacy objectives. Articulate key messages of your advocacy plan so that they can be understood by their audience and elicit a call to action.  

7. Communication activities: Link your messages to your audience by putting together a communication plan. Identify platforms, tailor messages to the needs of the different platforms, determine frequency, and expectations from the effort.

8. Resources: Determine the financial and non-financial resources you would need to implement your advocacy plan. Be clear about your budget with your sponsors and demonstrate value in linking spending to outputs. 

9. Timeline: Determine the time period of your plan from start to finish. Use creative scheduling tools to deliver the advocacy plan.

10. Evaluation: Incorporate a mechanism to measure, evaluate, and learn from your efforts in the plan so that you can make adjustments based on findings.