Communicating for advocacy

Advocacy is a communication process through which individuals, groups or communities influence their social environments at local, provincial, national and international levels. For some, it is about influencing policy makers and opinion formers to bring changes to policy and practice; others strive to address attitudes, social relationships and power relations to effect social change. This list draws together practical guides on communication skills and methodologies, with an emphasis on building the capacities of NGOs to plan and manage advocacy activities. Many draw on participatory methodologies and some focus on specific health issues such as HIV, sexual health, disability rights, or TB. Others build specific skills such as videography, or working with the media.

This key list was compiled to support Healthlink Worldwide's Communicating for Advocacy (CfA) project. It was reviewed by David Curtis, Head of Programme and Capacity Development at Healthlink Worldwide. Please send suggestions of additions to the list to

Selected resources

A new weave of power, people & politics : the action guide for advocacy and citizen participation

MILLER, Valerie
March 2007

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This comprehensive action guide provides an approach for building people’s participation and collective power that goes beyond influencing policy and politics to transforming public decision-making. It offers easily adaptable 'modules' for NGOs trainers, activists, grass-roots organisations, who wish to develop ideas around advocacy. One of the strengths is that it focuses on peoples participation and explores ideas relating to power and politics in citizen-centred advocacy. It emphasises power and constituency-building discussed through the lens of gender/race/class and is based upon the concrete experiences of social change worldwide
It also offers facilitators tips, sample exercises and easily adaptable handouts, along with core information to support anyone through the learning process. Based on long-term experience of a range of practitioners, the guide provides well-tested methods for promoting citizen participation and practical ways of realising a rights-based approach.
The contents, chapters 1, 3, 5, 10 and 13 can be accessed electronically

Advocacy : building skills for NGO leaders


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A three-day, six-session curriculum designed as a companion piece to 'Cairo, Beijing, and Beyond: A Handbook on Advocacy for Women Leaders'. This manual uses participatory methodologies and is based on CEDPA's experience in building the skills of NGO leaders to advocate for change in the reproductive health arena. While the background information and role play scenarios deal directly with reproductive health issues, a trainer can adapt the sessions for other contexts

Advocacy guide: HIV/AIDS prevention among injecting users : workshop manual


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This useful, accessible manual provides an overview of advocacy and describes advocacy processes, methods and approaches in detail, including strategy development, community-based approaches, and working with the media. The final section provides advice on developing arguments and provides a wide range of question-and-answer style stances on controversial issues (eg 'needle programmes send the wrong message'). The final chapter is a comprehensive list of further resources. This focuses mostly on advocacy and HIV, but includes some materials addressing harm reduction and injecting drug users

Advocacy impact assessment guidelines


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DFID’s major advocacy activities focus on influencing agencies and governments to invest in infrastructure. However, it is hard to find concrete evidence of the contributions that advocacy makes towards poverty eradication. These guidelines describe an approach that many NGOs take to assess advocacy impacts. There are different types of advocacy impacts, known as different dimensions of change, and these guidelines describe some indicators for the following dimensions: changes in policies and their implementation; private sector change; strengthening civil society; and aiding democracy and improving the material situation of individuals. Participatory monitoring and evaluation asks the people being affected by a project whether it has made a difference. However, this is often more complex than standard evaluation systems and it is necessary to be clear about the goals of the process and who should be involved. In order to assess impact, it is necessary to know the existing situation prior to advocacy, and to monitor progress against this. Once you have the information, it needs to be analysed. Lessons can then be learned and evaluation results used to demonstrate that advocacy works

Advocacy in action : a toolkit to support NGOs and CBOs responding to HIV/AIDS


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A comprehensive toolkit designed for people and organisations that support NGOs/CBOs responding to HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Introduces the concept of advocacy ('influencing people and organisations in power to create an environment which protects the rights, health and welfare of everyone'); provides a step-by-step guide to planning and implementing advocacy work; and provides information and skills-building activities. Includes 'A facilitator's guide to participatory workshops' and '100 ways to energise groups : games to use in workshops, meetings and the community'. All materials are on the CD-ROM, which is included in the pack, and on the International HIV/AIDS Alliance website

Advocacy toolkit : practical action in advocacy

GORDON, Graham

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This second volume of Tearfund's Advocacy Toolkit is a step-by step guide to planning an advocacy activity, large or small, and consists mainly of tools and exercises. The introduction describes the planning process and outlines a Summary Advocacy Strategy. The following sections describe five parts of the planning cycle in detail

An introduction to advocacy : training guide


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Sets out the purpose and methods of advocacy; builds basic advocacy skills; promotes the use and impact of information through advocacy. Designed for anyone who wants to influence policies through advocacy. Sections can be adapted for use in training at meetings or conferences, or can inform research dissemination or communication strategies

Disability awareness in action : campaigns


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This resource kit focuses on campaigns run by organisations of disabled people, which promote independence, equality of opportunity and full participation. It proposes that taking part in campaigns will increase members' skills and confidence and show disabled people as active participants in their communities, who have ideas and abilities that can be of benefit to everyone

Empowering communities for TB advocacy : the TAG-ICW model


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This report provides activists, policy makers, and donors with lessons learned from two years of capacity building for HIV treatment activists to integrate TB and TB/HIV collaborative activities into their advocacy work. The TAG-ICW capacity building model evolved out of their experience in building the capacity of Africa-based HIV activists to take on TB advocacy

Giving voice to the voiceless : a communicating for advocacy publication

September 2007

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Using a rights-based approach, this project sought to develop the capacity of poor and marginalised groups in South and South-East Asia both to influence practice and policy, and for information exchange and skills transfer by health and development agencies. The project focused on four main themes: training, advocacy, communication and networking, and the lessons learned from it are set out in the report

Global health advocacy manual


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A guide to lobbying and advocating in the United States by mobilising others, contacting congressional representatives, and using the media (eg newspapers)

How to improve the use of medicines by consumers

et al

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This manual focuses on selecting, testing, implementing and evaluating interventions to improve the use of medicines at community level. Two broad strategic areas are identified: communication strategies and strategies to create enabling environments. "What has become clear over the years is that there is no single model or approach that is the solution to all health communication challenges. Different techniques are appropriate in different contexts to deal with different priorities and problems. This manual will help you to build skills and experience to make that selection more effectively"

Intellectual property rights and access to ARV medicines : civil society resistance in the global south|Brazil, Colombia, China, India, Thailand

REIS, Renata
TERTO, Veriano Jr
PIMENTA, Maria Cristina Pimenta

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This book looks at "...the recent history and the many struggles related to advocacy for access to [antiretroviral] medicines of engaged civil society. Through the experiences of five middle-income countries - Brazil, China, Colombia, India, and Thailand." It presents "...the perspective of local civil society organisations about the national impact of intellectual property protection and access to medications. "These five countries were chosen due to their accumulated experience in this field, their capacity to produce generic medication, their activist efforts, and the exchange of ideas and information that already exists between them"

Manual for the planning, organising and implementation of an awareness building campaign (ABC) for disabled persons' organisations

et al

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This manual is based on the experiences with planning, organisation, implementation and evaluation of the awareness building campaign (ABC) in Malawi in 1999-2001, which was jointly carried out by the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), the Federation of Disability Organisations of Malawi (FEDOMA) and the Federation of Disability Organisations of Norway (FFO)

Mapping political context : a toolkit for civil society organisations

NASH, Robert
July 2006

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This comprises of a range of tools that civil society organisations (CSOs) can use to understand and map political context, in order to engage more effectively in policy processes. The tools have been selected because they cover a wide variety of political dimensions. As such, they provide a menu of different approaches to mapping political context; CSOs and others can select from this menu and make use of the tools according to their own needs

Monitoring and evaluating advocacy : a scoping study

CHAPMAN, Jennifer
WAMEYO, Amboka
January 2001

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This scoping study has attempted to identify and document how various agencies and institutions have approached the assessment of advocacy. It sets out a number of frameworks that look at similar issues from different perspectives and, instead of promoting one framework as the 'correct' one, allows the reader to pick and choose what elements are most useful to them. The work was limited in scale, and focused in particular upon the approaches of NGOs. The insights and ideas from this study will contribute to a three-year action research project to be undertaken by ActionAid and partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Networking for policy change : an advocacy training manual


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This training manual was prepared to help representatives of NGOs and other formal groups of civil society form and maintain advocacy networks and develop effective family planning/reproductive health advocacy skills. The manual's tools and approaches can be used to affect FP/RH policy decisions at the international, national, regional, and local levels. It identifies three building blocks of advocacy: the formation of networks, the identification of political opportunities, and the organisation of campaigns. The manual includes a section on each of these building blocks, with specific subjects presented in individual units. Units within each section contain background notes, learning objectives, and handouts. While the manual can be used in its entirety, it is designed to be used in sections depending on the particular needs of the network

Overview of health communication campaigns

March 2007

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This guide provides a hands-on 12-step process to developing health communication campaigns. Each chapter is created according to the steps, with information on what the step is, why it is important and what is required to carry it out

Positive development : setting up self-help groups and advocating for change. A manual for people living with HIV

LONG, Siân
BEHRMAN, Nina [ed]

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This manual has been written for people working in groups. It aims to offer suggestions and ideas to people and organisations who are beginning new groups, or planning to do so and who have limited experience of running a group. It will also be useful for trainers and facilitators who have been running groups for some time or who are helping others set up their own groups. It has developed from experiences of people living with HIV who have been working together in groups around the world. It is practical in focus and written in accessible language, with checklists, examples and tips throughout. Part 1 looks at why we set up groups and the benefits of group working. Part 2 looks at the practicalities of setting up groups, organising meetings and keeping the group going. Part 3 looks at some skills and activities for developing and maintaining positive group dynamics. Part 4 explains how to develop a project step-by-step, from planning to evaluation. Part 5 offers advice on finding sources of funding, Part 6 deals with disclosure issues, and Part 7 looks at advocacy and campaigning at all levels

TB advocacy : a practical guide 1999

OWENS, Becky

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Using tuberculosis as an example, this guide goes through the stages of documenting the situation, packaging the message, working with the media, and mobilizing others to effect change through advocacy

The how and why of advocacy

LANEY, Megan Lloyd
FRASER, Alastair
March 2005

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This information was collected for an introduction to advocacy training course. It looks at what, why and where to start and includes sessions on participatory advocacy, and monitoring and evaluation

Writing for change : an interactive guide to effective writing, writing for science, and writing for advocacy


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This training resource is designed primarily for people working in the not-for-profit sector, including researchers, scientists, project managers, team members, campaigners, fundraisers, social activists and writers. Divided into three sections: 'Effective Writing: Core Skills', 'Writing for Science', and 'Writing for Advocacy'. 'Effective Writing: Core Skills' helps to develop the skills needed to write clearly and purposefully, organise ideas and express them well. 'Writing for Science' shows how to produce writing for publication in specialist journals. It teaches how to build on the core skills of effective writing and add further skills that apply to this specialised type of writing. This section gives a better chance of getting published, discusses the ethics of authorship, how to respond to editors and correct proofs. 'Writing for Advocacy' contains a wealth of advice on how to win hearts and minds and how to adapt core writing skills to lobbying or campaigning documents. The section looks at articles, leaflets, newsletters, pamphlets, press releases and posters. Extra features include a resource centre with suggestions for further reading and links to useful websites and resources

Communication skills [whole issue]


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This issue describes why good communication is important for health workers. Giving advice is key, but finding out information and gaining people's trust has to come first. Unless you have gained people's confidence by communicating well with them, then your advice may not be followed. Articles explain how to select key messages to give people, how to explain points clearly in appropriate language and how to check if people have understood what you have said. This issue also provides ideas and examples for training others in communication skills

Making clear messages [whole issue]


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Provides suggestions on now to develop materials to support education about sensitive issues around HIV and sexual health. It offers ideas and examples of how some organisations have used different methods, and suggests where to get further information