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Advocacy Approach for a Non-Governmental Organization

Assessment 3: Advocacy Report

Imagine you are working for a non-government organization in a front-line case work position. For several months, you and your fellow workers have had discussions about extending your practice to policy advocacy. You approach a manager who agrees to provide a 6-week full time project (out of philanthropic funds). They ask you to develop an advocacy approach for the agency that would contribute to policy change to one policy area. Your fellow workers agree to give you the task of researching and preparing a report for the agency.
Selecting a policy area that you have analyzed in this subject, write a report for the imagined agency(Word Count 1800-2000)

Solution

Executive Summary

This report concludes that efforts to advocate for policy change by NGOs should centre on poverty alleviation and other forms of supplemental income. The report begins with an overview of fundamental theories of policy change, followed by an examination of relevant policy organizations. These organizations include governmental bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and industry executives. A section of the policy has been identified as requiring refinement, and the framework for a reform strategy has been established. In this report, the author describes who the organisation should collaborate with, what campaigns or strategies the organisation can employ, and whom the organisation wants to reach with its policy advocacy activities. The report concludes with recommendations for future research and policy advocacy initiatives, as well as agency policy advocacy action.

Introduction

This report will focus on a non-governmental organization (NGO) that aids vulnerable populations during crises. Policymakers and decision-makers in the appropriate government ministries, as well as NGOs, peak organisations, and research organizations active in the policy field of consistency in decision-making, will be the target audience for the advocacy report. Over the past few months, the group’s leadership has seriously considered expanding the organization’s mission to include advocacy for public policy. To address this issue, a six-week, full-time research initiative funded by philanthropy will investigate the influence of advocacy on social welfare policy, with a focus on poverty alleviation efforts and supplemental income programs. This report’s primary objective is to provide guidance for the organization’s lobbying efforts in the aforementioned sector. The report investigates critical theories of policy change, analyses the landscape of organizations and government agencies operating in the policy area, identifies policy components that need to be modified, and provides a first step for implementing those modifications. This report is intended to serve as a guide for the organization’s policy advocacy efforts and to have a positive impact on social welfare policy through the organization’s suggestions.

Overview of Relevant Theories of Policy Change

Policy change is a complex procedure involving numerous diverse individuals, institutions, and groups with competing interests (Collins & Medrano, 2022). Policy adaptation is the process of modifying existing policies or devising new ones in response to emerging threats or altering demographic, economic, or political factors (Schmid et al., 2020). The evolution of policies can be viewed as a continuous cycle of testing and modification. This process includes problem identification, agenda setting, policy formulation, adoption, and implementation, in addition to evaluation (Mintrom, 2019).

Several fundamental theories of policy change have been developed to aid in the explanation and guidance of the policy change process. One such theory is the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF). The ACF prioritizes the activity of coalitions and alliances of actors with similar perspectives and interests when it comes to influencing policy change (Weible et al., 2020). The ACF asserts that competing advocacy groups influence the policymaking process. Using techniques such as lobbying, grass-roots mobilization, and legal action, these organizations collaborate to influence policy discussions.

Figure 1: Advocacy Coalition Framework

(Source: Weible et al., 2020)

Punctuated Equilibrium Theory, also known as PET, is an additional significant explanation for policy shifts. The PET accentuates the power of an external upheaval or crisis to upend the status quo and propel policy change (Sabatier & Weible, 2019). One reason for PET’s success is its emphasis on the influence of exogenous disruptions and calamities on policy change.

Figure 2: Punctuated Equilibrium Theory

(Source: Sabatier & Weible, 2019)

Multiple Streams Model (MSM) is the third principal theory of policy change. The media pays considerable attention to the roles of the problem stream, policy stream, and political stream in the process of policy change (Oliver & Cairney, 2019). The MSM’s most valuable asset is the manner in which it emphasizes the significance of time and the role of policy entrepreneurs in the formulation of policy windows.

Figure 3: Multiple Streams Model

(Source: Oliver & Cairney, 2019)

Diffusion of Innovation Theory asserts that the transmission of new ideas, technologies, or policies through social networks, results in the modification of existing norms. It asserts that the relative advantage of an innovation, its conformity with existing values and norms, its complexity, and the extent to which observers note the innovation all influence its acceptability (Qader et al., 2023).

Figure 4: Diffusion of Innovation Theory

(Source: Qader et al., 2023)

Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IAD) asserts that policy shifts are the result of interactions between formal institutions (like laws, regulations, and rules) and informal institutions (like social norms, cultural ideas, and shared values) that influence the actions of players within a given policy domain (Abdu et al., 2022). Examples of formal institutions include statutes, regulations, and protocols. Informal institutions consist of social norms, cultural viewpoints, and widely held ideals.

Figure 5: The IAD Framework

(Source: Abdu et al., 2022)

It is pertinent to consider the advantages and disadvantages of employing these concepts to guide the organization’s policy advocacy activities as the author analyzes them. The ACF has the potential to facilitate the identification of like-minded allies and the formation of effective advocacy coalitions for policy change advocacy. PET can be utilized to identify prospective disruptions or crises that provide policy openings. The MSM may aid in determining when and why a policy shift is required. Nonetheless, it is essential to recognize the limitations of these theories and the need to consider the specific environmental and institutional factors that contribute to the formulation of policy change in a particular policy area.

Scan of Responsible Government Departments, Non-Government Organizations, Research Organizations, and Peak Bodies

To successfully advocate for policy change, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the policy environment and the individuals involved (Capano & Howlett, 2020). Examining the relevant government agencies, non-governmental organizations, research organizations, and peak bodies active in the policy sector can provide significant insight into the policy’s history, key actors, and recent developments (Sabatier, 2019).

The federal Department of Education and Training (DET) is tasked with devising and implementing educational policy alongside numerous other government agencies. The education departments of the various provinces and territories are additional options. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) all play important roles in the research and advocacy of Australia’s education policy (Hartweg & Metcalfe, 2022).

Improving educational outcomes for all children in a fair and equitable manner is a top priority for both government and non-government organizations working on policy at the present time (Mintrom, 2019). The Australian Education Union (AEU) and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) are two Australian non-government organizations with the same goals of increased funding for public education, smaller class sizes, and greater distribution of high-quality educational resources.

Government agencies and advocacy organizations advocate for particular policies through a variety of means, including direct lobbying of legislators, research and analysis, and public awareness campaigns. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA) collaborates with educators, parents, and business leaders to develop and implement national curriculum standards, and the Department of Education and Training (DET) routinely solicits feedback from stakeholders on proposed policies.

Nongovernmental organizations and research organizations employ advocacy strategies such as conducting research, devising policy recommendations, and participating in public campaigns. These organizations employ various advocacy strategies.

Identification of an Aspect of the Policy That is Worth Changing

Inconsistency in Decision Making

Consistent decision-making across sectors, such as the medical and legal systems, is indispensable to the success of any public program. Contradictory policy implementation could result in a loss of public trust and inefficient resource allocations (Smith et al., 2020). Among the causes of inconsistency are ambiguous policy requirements, inadequate training and support for decision-makers, and contextual differences in interpretation (Hartweg & Metcalfe, 2022). In the realm of criminal justice policy, for instance, disparities in the application of sentencing standards can have various effects on individuals and communities.

To ensure equitable and effective outcomes, it is crucial to identify and rectify inconsistencies in the policy decision-making process (Sabatier, 2019). The agency has a fantastic opportunity to make a substantial difference by advocating for policy changes that correct inconsistencies in the decision-making process.

It has been determined that increased training and assistance for decision-makers, greater transparency and openness in decision-making processes, and standardization of decision-making procedures can reduce decision-making inconsistency (Capano & Howlett, 2020). In order to promote policy coherence and equality, these strategies have been utilized effectively in domains such as criminal justice and healthcare, among others. The agency could advocate for the use of these procedures in order to aid in the development of decision-making standards that promote consistency. A more equitable and productive conclusion will benefit all parties involved.

Beginning Plan for Policy Change

Identification of potential allies and partners in the sector

The government agency must identify prospective corporate collaborators in order to modify policy. Nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations, advocacy groups, research institutions, and academic institutions are potential allies and collaborators in this policy area. These organizations have a vested interest in policy and may be able to provide valuable insight and support for the agency’s lobbying efforts. The government department and other organizations may work together to develop a unified policy agenda and coordinated lobbying efforts.

Possible campaigns, activities, and strategies for the agency and its policy change include grassroots organizing, social media campaigns, coalition building, direct lobbying, and public education campaigns. The agency should prioritize organizing affected individuals and families into a grass-roots movement to amplify their voices and gain public support for a policy change (Schlager, 2019).

Identification of the target groups, individuals, public officials, or organizations for the policy advocacy plan

Policy advocacy techniques may target legislators, policymakers, government agencies, community leaders, affected individuals and families, and the general public. Another potential audience is the general population. To ensure that each audience receives the most effective messages and strategies, organizational advocacy activities must be differentiated (Sabatier, 2019). Policymakers and decision-makers, for instance, may respond more favourably to evidence-based guidance, whereas those directly affected may find solace in personal narratives and stories.

In order to effectively persuade elected officials, policymakers, and government agencies to take corrective action, the main themes and strategies of the policy advocacy campaign must be tailored to gain the public’s support for a policy change (Smith et al., 2020). The issue should be framed in terms of social justice and human rights, with an emphasis on the human costs of the current policy and the benefits of a change (Carpentier et al., 2020). It is fundamental to communicate these essential ideas. Using social media to reach legislators and the general public, organizing affected individuals and families to share their stories, and participating in the formation of strategic coalitions with other organizations working in the sector are all viable strategies.

Conclusion

This report examined the pertinent policy issue in depth. Examining relevant policy change theories and reviewing relevant government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), research groups, and peak organizations, a recommendation is made as to which component of the policy should be modified. In addition, a provisional strategy for influencing policy change has been outlined. This strategy outlines potential coalition partners and allies, campaign techniques, target audiences, key themes and strategies, and key messages and strategies.

The report’s conclusions can be interpreted in two ways. To begin with, it establishes a solid foundation upon which the agency can construct its knowledge of the policy area and its many stakeholders. This information is essential for designing a successful lobbying strategy that may result in a permanent policy change. Second, the report emphasizes the need for evidence-based lobbying techniques to convince influential decision-makers. If the agency accepts and implements the suggestions stated in this report, it may be better able to assist those who have been adversely affected by the policy issue.

References

Abdu, N., Tinch, E., Levitt, C., Volker, P. W., & MacDonald, D. H. (2022). Illegal firewood collection in Tasmania: Approaching the problem with the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. Land Use Policy118, 106130. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837722001570

Capano, G., & Howlett, M. (2020). The knowns and unknowns of policy instrument analysis: Policy tools and the current research agenda on policy mixes. Sage Open10(1), 2158244019900568. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2158244019900568

Carpentier, J. D., Mallows, D., & Amorim, J. P. (2020). Credibility, relevance, and policy impact in the evaluation of adult basic skills programs: the case of the new opportunities initiative in Portugal. https://repositorio-aberto.up.pt/bitstream/10216/132325/2/444098.pdf

Collins, B., & Medrano, A. (2022). From parochial to policy advocate: Examining policy advocacy among neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. Cities130, 103882. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275122003213

Hartweg, D. L., & Metcalfe, S. A. (2022). Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory: relevance and need for refinement. Nursing science quarterly35(1), 70-76. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/08943184211051369

Mintrom, M. (2019). So you want to be a policy entrepreneur?. Policy design and practice2(4), 307-323. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/25741292.2019.1675989

Oliver, K., & Cairney, P. (2019). The dos and don’ts of influencing policy: a systematic review of advice to academics. Palgrave Communications5(1), 1-11. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0232-y

Qader, G., Shahid, Z. A., Junaid, M., Shaikh, I. M., & Qureshi, M. A. (2023). The role of diffusion of innovation theory towards the adoption of halal meat supply chain. Journal of Islamic Marketing14(5), 1211-1228. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JIMA-01-2021-0032/full/html 

Sabatier, P. A. (2019). Fostering the development of policy theory. In Theories of the policy process (pp. 321-336). Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780367274689-11/fostering-development-policy-theory-paul-sabatier

Sabatier, P. A., & Weible, C. M. (2019). The advocacy coalition framework: Innovations and clarifications. In Theories of the policy process (pp. 189-220). Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780367274689-7/advocacy-coalition-framework-paul-sabatier-christopher-weible

Schlager, E. (2019). A comparison of frameworks, theories, and models of policy processes. In Theories of the policy process (pp. 293-319). Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780367274689-10/comparison-frameworks-theories-models-policy-processes-edella-schlager

Schmid, N., Sewerin, S., & Schmidt, T. S. (2020). Explaining advocacy coalition change with policy feedback. Policy Studies Journal48(4), 1109-1134. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/psj.12365

Smith, Y. M., Cleveland, K. A., Fisher, J., & Kleman, C. (2020, November). The use of faculty policy teams for advancing policy advocacy and colleagueship. In Nursing Forum (Vol. 55, No. 4, pp. 582-588). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nuf.12473

Weible, C. M., Ingold, K., Nohrstedt, D., Henry, A. D., & Jenkins‐Smith, H. C. (2020). Sharpening advocacy coalitions. Policy studies journal48(4), 1054-1081. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/psj.12360

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