Around the Institute

So, what’s “advocacy” anyway?

January 18, 2013

What’s in an Ask?

This week, we stumbled upon a blog post about networking and the power of the “ask.”  Because we’re often hired to evaluate educational convenings or trips, this got us thinking: is there an appropriate way for organizations to request that participants perform an action after an event (say, to write about it) to help demonstrate its impact?  Depends—on the nature of the event, the role of participants, the expectations established beforehand, etc.  What’s clear is that once an “ask” has been made, it’s all about follow-up.

50 (or More) Shades of Advocacy

Steven Mayer’s latest entry for Just Philanthropy is all about defining what “advocacy” means.  For example, he compares advocacy to public health: much like the latter tries to tackle the source of illness, the former targets policy solutions to improve the lives of specific groups of people.  Our own Advocacy Progress Planner takes this approach.  But not all advocacy campaigns are policy-related.  Some try to raise awareness; others, to educate.  Still, very many organizations remain uncomfortable with the word.  And let’s not even get started on “lobbying”…   

Mapping Influence

The Economist’s Blighty blog posted an intriguing piece about Britain’s many avenues of influence over the European Union, especially on foreign and economic policy, despite not being a member state.  Coincidentally, we’ve also been contemplating lately how webs of influence amplify the advocacy of policy champions.  The relationships between leaders and organizations (and even countries, as the British case shows) really matter.  Take these into account when assessing the reach, transmission and impact of a champion’s message.