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The Advocacy Strategy Framework
by Julia Coffman and Tanya Beer
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The idea of developing a theory of change is now a well-accepted practice among funders and their grantees. Less patience exists, however, with the tools available for articulating theories of change. Common complaints are that they can be too linear, too removed from context, and too restricted in their ability to facilitate thinking about how strategies need to adapt over time. This is especially true for advocacy, where theories and their associated strategies may need to shift in response to a variable political context, or if advocacy tactics are not as effective as anticipated.

This brief offers a simple one-page tool for thinking about the theories of change that underlie public policy advocacy strategies.

The tool—labeled the advocacy strategy framework—has several advantages over more familiar linear box-and-arrow theory-of-change tools:

  • As advocacy is not predictable or linear, the tool does not force linear thinking.
  • It offers a place to start, rather than a blank page.
  • It helps advocates to think more specifically about audiences—who is expected to change and how, and what it will take to get them there.
  • While theories of change often consider advocacy strategies in isolation of other efforts, this tool helps to think about how other advocates (like-minded or in opposition) are positioned.
  • It prompts thinking about useful tactics and meaningful interim outcomes.