Strategy is all about choices.
“You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.” —Jereon de Flander
To make choices, it is useful to know and reflect on a menu of options. People and organizations are often creatures of habit and may choose the option they know best or the one that is least risky. However, some might also get inspired by new options. Advocacy sometimes happens in a very complex and fluid context, and strategies for the broader direction, and tactics, defining the shorter-term movements, need to be reflected upon and adjusted, if required.
Our subset of 35 cards is part of the IMPACT CARDS, a combination game and social change methodology to explore a 100,000 ways to change the world!
The advocacy subset consists of:
28 red cards, which define the way impact is created, for instance through lobbying or whistleblowing,
and 7 green cards, which give options for strategies to mobilize people and partners, for instance crowdsourcing or multi-actor partnerships.
The backside of the cards features inspirational people or organizations.
Here a few examples:
Using IMPACT CARDS to develop an advocacy canvas
If you are planning a new campaign, reflecting on strategy options is one of the last steps in the advocacy planning process. Before defining strategies, you should have clarity on the advocacy issue (problems) you are trying to solve, the goal, demands, and the key influencers and decision-makers you need to influence.
We recommend that you define the strategies with a group of key allies that will be involved in the campaign in order to build ownership and common understanding.
Divide the workshop participants in working groups of four to five people and give each group a set of 35 cards with Advocacy strategies. Instruct the groups:
to slowly go through each card and set aside those cards that could be relevant to the campaign. The group will probably set aside five to ten cards in the first round.
to further prioritize two to four key strategies that the campaign would use for their advocacy campaign
Then ask the working groups to come back to the plenary.
Pin the prioritized cards from each group and cluster them. Most likely an overlap between the groups and strategy priorities will emerge.
Then facilitate a dialogue and further sharpening of the envisioned strategies to come up with two to four priorities that reflect the entire group’s thoughts.
Divide the participants in small working groups to discuss each strategy in one group.
The template for each strategy includes: (a) a clear description of the strategy, (b) why it would create change, and (c) what the main actions under such a strategy would be.
Ask each group to briefly present, then feed forward is given.
After this exercise, you should have a draft outline of the strategy, and you can assign to a smaller group the task to further work on the strategies. We recommend you develop a few iterations of the strategies to make them sharper and more effective.
About the Author:
Joachim Schwarz is passionate about social justice and on a mission to support like-minded civil society actors and social entrepreneurs to become more powerful and innovative. Hence, in 2014 he left his NGO career to build the Civil Society Academy. He is an outstanding facilitator and coach with expertise in social innovation, leadership, organisational change, and advocacy. After more than 20 years in Africa and Asia, he is now based in Berlin.