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Building capacity for advocacy campaigning

What is the best way to help train campaigners? Is it a week long course? A day course at regular intervals? Mentoring support? A peer group?

There is clearly no one answer but it is one question that has been much on my mind recently. A year ago at the Refugee Council, we ran a campaign training course for refugee leaders in London. We got good feedback for our training but despite this feedback, the course participants then found it hard to develop their campaigns. We offered mentoring support focussing on the individual organisation and the campaigning activity took off.

Our reflection on our learning was that while our training had been ok, it had been offered at an abstract level and had not been rooted in the daily experiences of the organisations. We are about to engage in year 2 of this project and this time around we will be focussing both on developing the capacity of the organisations as well as developing their campaigning skills.

Campaign training cannot exist in a vacuum – it has to be applied to the reality of the campaigning environment, both internal and external, which is facing the organisation.

It did make me reflect that as an activist learner, I was far more focussed on running campaigns and delivering campaign training than on the practical day to day realities for the organisation. But when I paused for thought it has always been the internal dynamics that have presented the biggest challenges to my campaigning.

So when I had the chance to hear Chris Stalker talk about his new praxis paper for INTRAC on capacity building for advocacy, I knew after my recent experiences that I had to be there to hear his conclusions. His presentation was very helpful to my thinking and his paper has just been published – see Intrac

Do make sure that you have a look at this paper; it contains plenty of food for thought and has helped me to think about this issue.

And a few months ago when I ran the advocacy and policy influencing course for INTRAC to an audience of NGO staff from across the globe, I was keen for Chris to come along as a guest speaker. I was interested to see how his message went down so well with such a diverse audience. From their positive feedback this is clearly an issue whose time has come.

How are you approaching capacity building for your advocacy work?