Thirty four RENATE members and three staff from a total of 17 countries across Europe, gathered together at the Mater Salvatoris Retreat and Conference Centre, Máriabesnyö, Hungary, to train on Advocacy and Campaigning, with a view to giving a voice to the voiceless.
It was a week of prayer, activities and capacity building, comprising presentations, discussions and active engagement. The week provided participants with an opportunity to share best practise, familiarise ourselves with the local context and get to know one another as a community.
Following the annual meeting of the Working Board, which took place on Monday, the 7th of March, Core Group member of RENATE, Ivonne van de Kar delivered the two-day training programme on Advocacy and Campaigning.
Through discussions and analysis, participants gained an understanding of the definitions of both “Advocacy” and “Campaigning”, the distinctions between both terms and their direct application for specific uses. Throughout the training, there was an emphasis on the importance of observing detailed structures when advocating and campaigning.
Following an opening analysis of the term “advocacy”, participants shared their understanding of the term and the specific advocacy work undertaken by the various organisations represented at the training.
The following are a synopsis of some of the key considerations shared:
- Advocacy is really awareness-raising.
- Lobbying is an ongoing activity…..never-ending!
- Successful campaigns and advocacy activities, are always tailor-made and the tools and methods used will depend on the context and cultural setting.
- It is imperative to define terms of engagement and analyse the ways in which one can generate the highest impact.
- Set realistic goals.
- Communicate goals and limits clearly to donors/benefactors.
- Accept that you may not realise all your goals at once.
- Compromise- seek a win: win. Good lobbying requires a degree of consensus.
- YOU are the expert and engender confidence in yourself by being self-confident. Decision makers are then more likely to be happy to use your knowledge and information.
- Decision-makers also decide your influencing space.
- It is very important to have a plan B, an alternative to choose from. Do not simply dump a problem on their desk.
- Strategizing is very important. To be more efficient, one needs a clear strategy, which in turn prevents one from being distracted by the issues of the day.
- Always ask yourself “why are we targeting this particular decision maker? Why are we carrying out this activity in the first place? Does it contribute to achieving our objective?”
- “You have to know who is the Charlie!!” Who has the power to effect change. Get to know them personally, as ultimately they will help in the implementation and delivery of actions.
- Timing of Lobbying and Advocacy activities is a very important consideration.
- Continuously evaluate how you are progressing as you lobby and advocate.
- Be careful to follow through post-achieving your objective, in monitoring, keeping vigilant etc. just in case your objective is diminished at a later stage. People go their own way and forget to keep an eye on the objective once the law has been changed!
- Build capacity amongst your people/network/organisation.
- Celebrate the victories, however small!
- Take care of your people! People get tired, as lobbying can take a very long time in some subject areas.
- Never underestimate the “neutral” people…they remain to be convinced and once convinced, can be powerful allies.
- Always keep an eye on the horizon….be aware that there may be others lobbying for the same purpose as your group, but they
- may have differing data to yours and such conflict of information, may ultimately undermine the overall work.
Remember TS Elliot’s poem, The Four Quartets! Once you arrive at the end of a campaign or lobbying or advocacy initiative, you start all over again and see the initiative from a fresh perspective!
Click here to read more: Report from RENATE Training in Hungary, 7-12 March 2016
Report written by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person