Introduction to Advocacy Strategy Planning

The word ‘strategy’ appears so excessively in today’s language that we get confused about its exact meaning. While there are many definitions of strategy, we selected the definition that the University of Illinois has on its website . 5[1]Glossary, University of Illinois. Accessed on February 5, 2007.

“Strategy is a framework guiding those choices that determine the nature and direction to attain the objective.”

Organizational strategy planning implies long-term planning with specific activities. It assumes that things will more or less follow a certain path. In advocacy strategy planning, the variables are often overwhelming, which makes it almost impossible to anticipate the path your advocacy route will take. The ability to foresee whom you might win on your side and whom you will have for opponents is limited and might shift by time. You may be surprised by “wild cards” those opponents may throw your way, and you will have to respond to them on very short notice. In short, you will need to be ready for surprises all along your way. This moving nature of advocacy work requires having a flexible structure to change strategies quickly should the need arise is an important tool in your survival strategy toolkit.

The last thing you want to have in your advocacy work is a plan that restricts you rather than a plan that gets the best out of you and your team. Having a clear, flexible, yet participatory mechanism to change your strategy quickly is likely one of the most permanent components of your strategic plan.

This module introduces some advocacy strategic analysis tools that should help you (as a group and/or coalition) do the following steps. It is important to note that the following steps are not linear but organically related. Any change in one or more of these points likely leads to change in the other points.

● Identify and prioritize the problems/issues you should/can address

● Analyze the root causes of the problem

● Assess your group’s/network’s ability to address this (these) issue(s) against your vision and mission statements

● Study the environment in which the issue exists

● Analyze the stakeholders that may affect the situation either positively or negatively.

● Develop, or rather craft, an advocacy strategy that seeks to achieve many goals simultaneously. It should address the root causes of the problem and help the powerless and marginalized realize that they have power and use it to defend their rights.


1 Glossary, University of Illinois. Accessed on February 5, 2007.