5 Reasons Advocacy Fails

Often I hear organizations complain about how they mounted an advocacy campaign but did not achieve the success they sought. Here are the five most common reasons advocacy attempts fail.

1. A lack of patience. Advocacy takes time and too often groups give up before they achieve success because they lack the patience that advocacy requires. Remember government generally moves very slowly. A large part of advocacy is relationship building and this takes time.

2. Failure to align the ask with government priorities. Governments indicate their policy priorities through a variety of ways, including the Speech from the Throne, the Budget Speech and Cabinet members’ speeches. Policy options which are in line with government priorities are more likely to be successful.

3. Lack of understanding of how government works. When groups do not understand how the policy development process works and how to engage in it or when they fail to understand how government decisions are made and how to capitalize on government processes, they are less likely to be successful. Advocates need to learn these processes so they can work within them effectively.

4. Lack of a clear policy option.  Well developed, research-based policy options that take into consideration the multitude of factors government must consider are more likely to be successful. Develop your policy ask carefully.

5. No strategic plan. Failure to engage in a strategic advocacy planning process can lead to lack of accountability, confused messages, missed opportunities and a lack of direction. In advocacy, good planning builds success.