The effectiveness and success of any advocacy process depends, amongst other factors, on how well the following steps are implemented:

  • Identifying and stating the issue
  • Collecting the relevant information
  • Mobilizing interested people
  • Raising and managing the necessary resources
  • Networking
  • Forming alliances
  • Forming and sustaining coalitions
  • Involving media
  • Establishing contacts with government

In summary, Advocacy begins with a problem or with a perception that there is a better alternative to a current condition and seeks to solve that problem and/or implement the selected alternative.

Advocacy is both an art and a science. There are no strict rules for advocacy work. Its approaches must be culturally, socially and politically specific. Widespread participation in an advocacy campaign is generally a precondition for success.

Planning an advocacy campaign is a dynamic process. It involves identifying the issue, developing solutions, building support, and bringing issues, solutions, and political will together to ensure that the desired change takes place. Finally, it involves monitoring and evaluating the entire process.

The steps in planning for advocacy work are:

  • Know your issue
  • Establish your objective(s)
  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis
  • Develop a strategy
  • Plan the activities
  • Identify and mobilize the required resources
  • Monitor and evaluate the campaign’s progress

It may well be necessary to revisit and revise several of these steps throughout the implementation of your advocacy campaign. Successful advocacy does not proceed in a straight line and rarely unfolds exactly according to plan. Be prepared for unforeseen events and consequences. Be flexible.


Children and youth

Advocacy initiatives related to children, youth and families encompass a wide range of issues that include child abuse, child care, family medical leave, child and adolescent mental health, school mental health, juvenile justice, early intervention and prevention, and violence prevention.

Government Relations efforts within these areas use the science and practice of psychology to advance programs and interventions that have proven effectiveness with these populations.

Disability issues

Individuals with disabilities face stigma and significant challenges in the areas of access to health care, employment and education. Government Relations efforts within these areas are based on what the science and practice of psychology demonstrate to be effective to address the needs of this population.

Community health issues

Community health centers provide critical primary health care services to individuals in medically underserved urban and rural areas, regardless of their ability to pay. APA promotes the goal of integrated health care services that include mental and behavioral health and the use of psychologists and psychology trainees.


Government Relations efforts utilize the science and practice of psychology to inform federal policy efforts related to older adults and their caregivers. Policy initiatives have focused on a range of issues impacting the aging population, including mental and behavioral health, integrated care, suicide, care giving, elder abuse and trauma, emergency and disaster preparedness and response, long-term care, aging veterans and the health care workforce.

Women issues

Advocates of social change advocates for policies to ensure psychological and physical health and quality of life for women. Issues include postpartum and maternal depression, reproductive health, preventing violence against women and promoting gender equity in employment and education.

Advocacy initiatives are based on the research, practice and public concerns relevant to women’s lives.

Ethnic minority

Advocacy initiatives related to ethnic minorities encompass health and health care disparities, foster care, cultural and linguistic competence, American Indian/Alaska Native health services, diversity in the mental health profession, immigration and the use of genetic information.

Government relations efforts within these areas are based on what the science and practice of psychology demonstrates to be effective with these populations.

Substance abuse

Perhaps more than for any other set of medical problems, psychological research has formed the foundation for our understanding of the prevention, etiology and treatment of substance use disorders. Two NIH Institutes support large programs of behavioral research targeting the enormous set of public health problems related directly to substance use disorders or the long term health consequences of dependence and addiction.

Advocacy in the United States and the European Union
The strategic decisions those lobbyists make throughout the advocacy process,  how institutional structures, issue-specific characteristics and interest-group factors blend to determine decisions about: how to approach a political fight, what arguments to use and how to frame an issue, what direct or inside lobbying tactics to employ, what public relations or outside lobbying strategies to use, and finally, in what networking and coalition activity to engage.

It is not only what lobbyists do in these two political systems that is interesting of course, but also to what effect. The last substantive chapter looks at how the same set of factors – institutions, issues and interests – affect lobbying success. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 150 advocates in Washington D.C. and Brussels, Belgium, as well as a massive store of case information on the random sample of 47 policy issues, the book uses rigorous empirical analysis to investigate the determinants of lobbying decisions and policy outcomes. Using publicly available information, each case was followed for more than a year after initial interviews to assess the outcome from the perspective of each advocate, allowing a systematic assessment of who got what they wanted, who did not, and who fell somewhere in between. The analysis blends qualitative evidence with quantitative statistical analysis to demonstrate that advocacy can be better understood when we study the lobbying of interest groups in their institutional and issue contexts.

Transnational Advocacy: Fighting for the displaced locally, nationally and globally

worldwide, over 30 million people have been displaced by violent conflict. The majority are trapped in protracted displacement crises; languishing for decades as endless cycles of violence prohibit them from returning home and resuming normal lives (Loescher 2007). The perpetuation of refugee and internal displacement camps further fuels the violence as humanitarian aid is misappropriated, armed elements take refugee among the displaced, and displaced populations are marginalized (Terry 2002). The powers of the Global North, particularly the EU and the US, are the major donors to displacement crises, the major players when it comes to peace keeping operations to bring about durable solutions and the primary recipients of refugees. Arguably, the worlds displaced are suffering similar fates, but attention to their plights varies drastically in the policy arenas of Brussels and Washington.

Confined to camps, the displaced are denied the right to work, to move freely, and importantly the right to political participation — to have a say in their own self determination. How can they fight to reclaim these rights through policymaking processes at the local, national and international level? Who must they rely on in their struggle? This project studies advocacy at three levels of governance to understand: who is advocating for displaced rights; how organizations are fighting for displaced rights; and what factors explain if they are successful in achieving their aims.

Displacement is one of the many transnational issues facing the international community today.  I argue, first, that effective advocacy on transnational issues must be truly transnational advocacy – simultaneously being carried out at multiple levels of governance; and second, that effective transnational advocacy requires a careful global division of labor among different types of groups, focusing on different goals, at different levels of governance.

Agenda setting research has shown how critical information flows are to getting issues on the crowded political agenda – an issue without an advocate is not an issue (Kingdon 1995, Jones & Baumgartner 1993; 2005). I argue that strong advocacy on behalf of the displaced by CBOs, NGOs, Diaspora groups and policymakers, is a key explanatory factor in understanding which displacement crises get attention and see improved access to rights and which do not; but other contextual factors are critical as well including the hostility of host governments.

I test this theory through a study of rights-focused advocacy at three levels of governance. I conducted fieldwork in a representative sample of 7 of the largest protracted displacement crises (Bhutan, Burma, Colombia, Croatia, Sri Lanka, Somalia, and Uganda) to collect data on the first two levels – local and national – including in-depth interviews with NGO and UN agency staff and displaced representatives. I constructed a database of attention to all of the 41 current protracted refugee crises on the public and political agendas of the global North – the US and the EU, as well as information on the number of groups advocating on each issue in Washington D.C. and Brussels Belgium and contextual factors including the history of the conflict; the history of international interventions, sanctions or other type of action; and the active role of any economic interests or multi-national corporate interests.

Argumentation Tipping Points: Individual and Collective Framing in the European Union

How an issue is understood fundamentally influences the outcome of a policy debate.  If one idea of an issue takes hold it can determine what interests mobilize, how many mobilize, whether the governing party supports or opposes, and if there is an all-out battle or a quiet compromise.  Getting everyone to debate an issue “on your terms” can dramatically improve your chances of getting what you want.  So a goal of any skillful advocate is to get your idea to catch on, to reach the tipping point that your way of thinking isn’t just one way of thinking, it is the way of thinking.

So how is it that one dimension or frame, or a few, come to dominate on any given issue, even though most issues have many dimensions and could be discussed in countless ways?  What is the process by which individual level framing attempts aggregate and a single dimension and frame dominate?  Is the macro-frame simply determined by the sum of its individual parts, or are their other factors at play?  How long do reframing processes take; can an issue be re-defined during the debate on a single policy proposal or is it something that takes decades.

Until now, it has been terribly difficult empirically to investigate these questions but the accessibility of large stores of issue and position documentation and the development of new computer assisted text analysis allows us to map the process by which hundreds of individual discussions of an issue aggregate to produce collectively dominant frames.  This project lays out a strategy for theorizing, and collecting, coding and mapping the process by which ideas tip.

The Power of Institutions: State and Interest-Group Activity in the European Union
This project investigates the ways in which government activity, or demand-side forces, influence interest mobilization and formal inclusion in the policy-making process in the European Union. Drawing on an original dataset of nearly 700 civil society groups active in the European Union, the analysis provides empirical evidence of three routes by which the EU institutions influence interest group activity:

  • direct interest group subsidy;
  • manipulation of the establishment and composition of formal arenas of political debate; and
  • Broader, system-wide expansion of competencies and selective development of chosen policy areas.


Advocacy by an individual or by an advocacy group normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an asset of interest. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research or poll or the ‘filing of friend of the court briefs’. Lobbying (often by lobby groups) is a form of advocacy where a direct approach is made to legislators on an issue which plays a significant role in modern politics. Advocacy process involves the following;

 1. Agenda setting

The first stage of advocacy whereby the issue or problems passed by relevant agency the community or the government

2. Formulation and enactment

Developing   of a policy that respond to the issue or problems passed by relevant agency, the community or the government.

3. Implementation and enforcement

Involves   putting  things  into  action , the policy  that has been  recommended  by the agitators  and ensuring  that the policy  is abided by.

4. Monitoring and evaluation

It involves assessing the impact   of the policy which has been enforced to see whether the objective is being realized.


Monitoring   – having a keen work of activities which / that have been enforced.

Evaluation – is working at the extend to which the achievement of activities is realized or not realized.

Social change- transformation from undesirable to desirable.

A case study

Accommodating the needs of people with disabilities

A woman who had been bedridden since an accident many years ago sought the assistance of an advocate. In this time, she had managed to remain independent in her own home with support provided by ACC. This required the assistance of care on a 24-hour around-the-clock basis.

The woman wanted the advocate to assist her with various issues arising from problems with care, and to support her in making decisions for the future. She had used a local rest home for respite care and appreciated always being able to have a particular room that she liked. She wondered whether it was time to look at rest-home care on a permanent basis, and whether she would be able to go to the same rest home and have her favorite room.

At her request, the advocate arranged for the manager of the rest home to come to talk to her. The manager was able to assure the woman that she could have “her room”, and a trial period was agreed to, with weekly meetings to discuss any issues. The manager worked with the woman to develop a plan to assist her to adjust to the change in staff as well as to her new living arrangements. Her general practitioner was also supportive of the steps to be taken.

All went well for a while, but the woman gradually lost confidence in the rest home following several incidents, and she became increasingly unhappy. The advocate kept in contact with her to ensure each issue was sorted out as it arose.

Eventually the woman decided to discharge herself back to her own flat, which she had kept on for a period in case things did not work out.

The staff of the rest home is happy to have her back if she changes her mind. The woman found it helpful to discuss with the advocate how important it was to have tried the rest home, but that she had discovered from the trial that that care option was not for her. She preferred to have her own care and for things to be done exactly as she wanted. 

Impact of advocacy process on social change;

  • It encourage social change  by being a catalyst of empowering  people  to critically  think about  social  injustice  forced  in society( mechanism for capacity building)
  • It brings partnership and collaboration because of networking, fighting for similar injustice that face people.
  • Advocate for people ambition – advocacy.
  • Helps in changing government perception on different issues.
  • Acts as watchdog in streamlining the way in which the government is working.
  • Encourage re-socialization and rehabilitation of deviant fellows in society.
  • Help to enhance change of government perception on certain issue e.g. taxation.
  • Acts as a mechanism for sieving government policies to be inclined with the real situation on ground.


  1. Discuss various advocacy issues in the society
  2. Discuss the factors that may influence the advocacy issues
  3. Discuss the process of advocacy
  4. Discuss the impact of advocacy on social change
(Visited 96 times, 1 visits today)
Share this:

Written by