I’m just back from running an advocacy campaigns workshop for the International Federation of the Red Cross/ Red Crescent Societies in Hungary for national societies working across the Balkans and Central Asia.
As ever my approach is always to try to de-mystify the subject, simply set out a definition of advocacy campaigns and offer some practical tools to help people get going. After a short three hour introductory session on the first day, I was intrigued to hear people saying afterwards – “So we’ve been doing advocacy all of these years.” The critical point was just that they hadn’t defined their work as advocacy campaigning.
They’d been focussed on a problem, identified a solution to address that problem and then sought to influence the person with the power to make the necessary change.
It took me all the way back to 2001, when I first tentatively helped to run a training workshop in Senegal for Oxfam’s staff in West Africa. At that time Oxfam had announced that it wanted to become a global campaigning force. This announcement may have sounded good in Oxford, but in West Africa it had led to some initial bewilderment.
It was here that I first advanced the idea of the TEA test to try to help people understand simply what campaigning was all about – and still remember the response from one person from Mali, I seem to remember, who said to me: “Oh if that’s advocacy campaigning, then I’ve been doing that for years” Precisely!