PLP advocacy guide excerpt
(Taken from ‘Advocacy: A guide for small and diaspora NGOs’, Jenny Ross, October 2013, for the Peer Learning Programme for small and diaspora organisations)
Which approach to advocacy is most appropriate for your organisation?
Advocacy by the people
Advocacy and campaigning can be led and undertaken by the people who are directly affected by the issue. They have legitimacy and can negotiate and make compromises based on their own interests.
Others (e.g. development NGOs, donors) may support these groups to be their own advocates but sometimes this support can skew the priorities of the individuals and organisations involved. Leadership and decision-making needs to stay with the community.
Advocacy with the people
It may be that affected communities and others are both advocating or campaigning on the same or similar issues. It may be useful for them to work together.
Again, NGOs that do joint advocacy and campaigning with affected communities need to be careful not to dominate or drive the process (as they often have the money, status and knowledge). The question of who leads and who makes decisions is critical.
Advocacy for the people
People and organisations not directly affected by the issue can do advocacy on behalf of those affected. In some circumstances where civil society space is constrained, they may be safer to speak out than those affected.
They may also have greater and faster influence with powerful actors. Wherever possible, affected communities should be consulted on both the solutions being recommended and advocacy strategy being pursued. Where there is a difference of opinion, these should be acknowledged.