Handout: What is Advocacy and what are the basic steps in an advocacy campaign?

Developed by: Tracey Naughton, Nyaka

Communications and Development Consultant

About this document

These materials are part of the Multimedia Training Kit (MMTK). The MMTK provides an integrated set of multimedia training materials and resources to support community media, community multimedia centres, telecentres, and other initiatives using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to empower communities and support development work.

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What is Advocacy?

Some definitions of advocacy

Consider the definitions of advocacy on the following pages within the speak bubbles. You can also make your own. These are a starting point.

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Here is a general definition of advocacy from a civil society perspective:

“Advocacy is about trying to influence someone else to understand your position on a policy issue for the purpose of changing the policy or law to reflect your position and to bring about positive social change for people.”

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What is the difference between advocacy and a service solution?

The concepts of advocacy and solving a problem by service provision are often confused. Here are some useful examples that help to explain the difference.

The problem

Service Solution


There are no computers in schools 

an organisations that renovates donated computers and places them in schools is providing a service solution

the teachers union advocating to government for an increased ICT budget for schools - that's advocacy

There are very few women skilled in the ICT area

an organisation that offers training specifically targeted to women is a service solution

an organisation (maybe even the same one) that runs a campaign to encourage girls to study the sciences - that's advocacy

There is little or no bandwidth in rural areas 

a company that provides cheap Internet access in village communication centres is a service solution

lobbying governments to develop infrastructure and universal service - that's advocacy

What does advocacy involve?

Launching an advocacy campaign is a serious business. It involves:

Advocacy is best kept for when `routine' work such as gathering support for a cause, raising money and recruiting members to a community initiative or program won't get you where you want to go. There are roadblocks.


In most cases, it's a good idea to think twice before launching yourselves (or your group) as advocates, because it's a strategy that is more effective if there isn't too much of it around.

Imagine a city where there were public demonstrations every day, where the municipality was besieged constantly by groups with special petitions, resolutions and assorted agitation. The community would quickly develop `advocacy fatigue'

A model for an advocacy campaign

There are many possible steps to be taken in an advocacy campaign and these will involve a lot of planning, finding out more about the issue, deciding on strategy and tactics and implementing and evaluating the success or otherwise of the campaign.

The model on the last page of these notes has broken an advocacy campaign down into six major steps. Each step has sub-steps as well as possible areas of activity that are not included. Don't be overwhelmed by all the information in the model. Not all advocacy campaigns will necessarily involve all the steps and sub-steps. See the model as an overall guide and a menu that you can refer to when conducting an advocacy campaign.

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Last updated 2 August 2006

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