Steps and Strategy

Steps and strategy image
  • Clarify the objectives of your organization, network or program coalition

What is the mission of the organization, network or coalition? What are the objectives, and what is the target group?

  • Define your target group

For whom are you doing this (beneficiaries)? How can you involve the target group, to define their interests and perceptions? Make sure that the voices of people within your target group who are less often heard (such as youth, women, people with disabilities) are also included.

  • Choose your lobbying and advocacy goal and set objective(s)

Elaborate SMART lobby and advocacy goals and objectives. Differentiate between the scope of concern and the scope of interest: What do you want to achieve and what can you achieve realistically? Less is more!

  • Identify stakeholders

What are the opportunities and threats in the outside world? Who are other important stakeholders? Are there other groups that might undermine what you want to achieve? Can you identify other networks with whom you might collaborate?

  • Define the decision-makers

Who do you aim to influence? Who are the decision-makers? What are their positions and interests? What are the various (official) procedures? Which phase in the decision-making process have you arrived at? Is there still room for influencing?

  • Prepare your organization, network, coalition for lobby and advocacy

Which are the methods and techniques that your organization, network or coalition is capable of using? What are the internal procedures of your organization for lobby and advocacy? What is the added value of the organization, network or coalition in relation to the topic?

  • Check whether lobby and advocacy is the right instrument

Is lobby and advocacy still the most effective option to influence? Or should other methods and instruments be considered?

  • Develop a lobby and advocacy action plan

Define the methods you intend to use and the resources you have at your disposal. Set a clear timetable and define responsibilities (who is doing what, when and why?). Involve your target group in the design.

  • Implement the lobby and advocacy action plan

Wherever possible, involve your target group in the implementation and create a platform for them to raise their own voice (especially those whose voices are less often heard).

  • Ensure monitoring, evaluation and follow-up of your activities

Develop a practical monitoring and evaluation system.

–>Timing is Important

a lobbyist giving a recipe to decision maker

Obviously, the timing of your lobby and advocacy activities is essential. It is therefore important to find in which phase the decision-making process stands in relation to your lobby and advocacy objective.

Generally, we distinguish four phases in the decision-making process:

  1. The initial phase,
  2. The analytical phase,
  3. The formal decision-making phase and
  4. The implementation phase.

Decision-makers require information tailored to each of these phases (research data, experiences from the field), as well as assistance to generate sufficient public and political support for their decisions.

Lobbyists should place themselves in a position to offer the required information and support at the right time, i.e. in the right phase of the decision-making process.

Presenting results and recommendations from a research project after National Assembly or the state house of representatives has already taken its decision serves no purpose and will only irritate the people concerned. Such findings should be presented at the earlier stage when decision-makers are looking for direction and policy alternatives.

–>Identifying Stakeholders

Local CSOsx
Trade Unionx
Local Governmentx
Ministry of Labour and Industryx
Local shea butter companiesx
Asian Supermarketsx
International company with no interest in fairtrade productsx

Stakeholder mapping: Brainstorm within your team to list all stakeholders and determine whether they are a friend, neutral, or opponent in relation to your lobby and advocacy objective.

For instance, if your objective is to improve labor conditions in the shea processing sector in Nigeria, advocating for living wage, health care and maternity leave, the stakeholders may be mapped out as shown above:

Using this kind of information, proceed to try to find out for each stakeholder the following issues:

  • What are their successes and failures in finding support for their positions?
  • What do they want in relation to your lobby and advocacy objective: what do they propose?
  • Are there opportunities for collaboration?
  • What are the risks (personal, institutional, financial) involved in collaboration or non-collaboration with these stakeholders?

–>Stakeholders Grid

Local CSOs
Trade Union++++
Local Government
Ministry of Labour and Industry
Local shea butter companies
Asian Supermarkets
International company with no interest in fairtrade products

Proceed to assess the following aspects for each issue:

  • The position of each stakeholder identified in relation to the issue: in favour, against or indifferent.
  • The influence of each stakeholder. This depends on their (formal) position and power, their network and contacts, their resources, etc.
  • The relevance of each stakeholder, which is expressed in terms of both of their position and their influence in relation to the issue.

The grid allows you to identify the key stakeholders, their position and influence regarding a specific issue. It helps you to pinpoint which stakeholders to contact or not to allow for a win-win scenario, a loss scenario or a negotiating scenario.

Perhaps most importantly, the exercise also allows you to identify stakeholders holding positions and can influence stakeholders you do not know. These should be contacted, as they are potentially interesting to include in your lobby and advocacy strategy (in the example above: for instance, the local shea processing company).

–>Relations of Influence

Relations of influence image

Identify relevant decision-makers and their positions, interests and motivations using the following questions:

  1. What are the objectives and interests of the decision-maker?
  2. What solutions can we offer which are of interest to the decision-maker?
  3. What phase in the decision-making process has the decision-maker arrived at?
  4. What are the procedures for decision-making?
  5. How do decision-makers perceive your organization, network or coalition?
  6. How do decision-makers perceive your target group and their issues?

The level of influence presents an example of a diagram that may be of use to you to illustrate and explain the relations of influence between different decision-makers

–>Strategy Example

The table above gives an example of how information may be structured and may provide you with a clearer idea about the win–win situations you are looking for as a lobbyist. It may help to easily find a suitable strategy to influence the decision-makers.