Reading: Ten building blocks
Having a clear idea of the change we want to achieve through our advocacy efforts is a precondition for planning next steps to prepare and launch a campaign. There are many excellent toolkits for campaigners that we can recommend, but we found European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) Advocacy Toolkit  to be very straightforward and universal for any topic/cause. EPDA lists 10 steps – or building blocks, that any campaign needs to address, for successful outcome.
STEP 1: Understand the issue
Many campaigns fail because those who run them think they are experts on the issue, but they don’t have a comprehensive understanding of what has already been accomplished on the issue to create effective goals. It’s necessary to do in depth research of the topic (and have a variety of resources at disposal); gather information on local, national and international level for good practices and some inspiring examples on the potential solutions to the issue; connect and have a conversation with the community affected by the issue. Having inclusive dialogue brings more perspectives and better understanding of the matter.
STEP 2: Define your objectives
The/A campaign needs to have a clear objective, which is also in part what we discussed in Theory of Change. Asking difficult questions and having a wider vision of societal change can be helpful aspects for defining objectives. Finally: everyone working on the campaign, or involved in consultation needs to be on the same page and have clear understanding what is at the stake.
STEP 3: Know your audience
Who is your target audience, and who are the influencers? Who are your partners in the policy field and who is your support base in the wider population? What communication channels they use and what is their preferred way of interacting and being involved? What is the level of their influence and how motivated they are to act for particular change? Researching the target audience is demanding, but a rewarding process and EPDA has some good tips on how to collect as much information on your audience as you can.
STEP 4: Develop your key messages
What are the salient points of the issue at the core of your campaign? Messages need to communicate both the problem and a solution. They need to be compelling, persuasive, appealing, repetitive and consistent. Most importantly they need to have embedded a direct call to action. Good campaigns tailor their communication messages to different audiences. Including real life stories, personal experiences and anecdotes help others relate to your message and understand shared values.
STEP 5: Develop your strategy
Advocacy campaigns need an engagement strategy, a plan describing how you will meet your audience base: through direct (meetings) or indirect engagement (letters, workshops, public consultations, reports, social media etc)
STEP 6: Identify the tools to help engagement
What are the means for engagement with your audience? As we focus on civic tech tools, we devoted a whole chapter sharing some inspiring examples on digital tools that can be used to help engagement while running advocacy campaigns.
STEP 7: Build an engagement plan
EPDA’s toolkit advises to consider which person will be involved from your organisation and what are the responsibilities of every person. Most importantly, good campaigns need to ensure they allocated specific tasks for each person, and this is also something we mention in the chapter on civic tech tools for advocacy and campaigning.
STEP 8: Engage
In this stage, putting everything you know about your issue, and campaign comes into place. But most important is to be well prepared for meeting with stakeholders, keep relevant and back up your findings with real facts and figures!
STEP 9: Maintain a dialogue
In our experience, this is the step that many campaigns often fail to conduct correctly – by not following up closely and maintaining relations with their supporters in the aftermath of campaign. It’s important to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence and sustain the dialogue so that everyone knows what are the next steps and what was achieved so far.
STEP 10: Measure your success
Evaluating the effect of your activities is extremely important as it enables you to: understand what factors and approaches lead to change; be accountable to your audience and partners; help improve your advocacy strategies.
 EPDA. EPDA Guide to Developing an advocacy campaign. https://www.epda.eu.com/media/1584/epda-advocacy-toolkit.pdf