Monitoring Your Advocacy Activities

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A group of adolescents discussing the issues they face
Adolescents discuss social issues, including racism and gender discrimination, during a workshop in Salvador, capital of the eastern state of Bahia.

It’s important to know whether our ideas are working, or if there are things we need to change. This is what monitoring is about – regularly gathering information to determine the impact our advocacy is having and to see if we need to do things differently.

Even with the best planning, things don’t always work out the way we expected.

Monitoring gives us an opportunity to reflect on our activities and to constantly find ways of improving what we are doing. Advocacy is difficult and so honest reflection is really key. We will make mistakes. But if we acknowledge them, we will learn, and quickly become better advocates.

 

Here are some tips on how to monitor a project:

  • After you engage with people, take a moment to reflect and think. How did they engage with you? What did you learn? What could you have done better?
  • Reflect on how people are responding to your initiative. Are they understanding your message? Is there any way you could communicate more effectively?
  • What feelings and emotions are arising from the work you do? Are you learning anything from the community that would change the activities you had initially planned?

Remember, monitoring is all about making our advocacy as effective as possible. By regularly reflecting on the process and impact, we will continue to learn, improve and grow, and our advocacy will be more successful. We can also run into some risks while advocating and may need to deal with these before continuing our work. 

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A group of young activists pose for a photo
Angélica Ferreira, 18, Anderson Barbosa, 21, Nonato Santos, 21, Fernanda Santos, Delza de Paula, 21, Tiago Araújo, 22, and Christiana Conceção, 23, gather at the local NGO CEAFRO (Centre of Educational and Professional Support for Racial and Gender Equality) in Salvador, capital of the eastern state of Bahia,

 

Throughout the advocacy process, you will run into different problems and challenges. One of the most important things you need to do is anticipate what these risks might be so you can plan around them and respond to them if necessary.

Start by making a list. Try and identify the potential risks you might face by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I run the risk of taking on too much, of making this project bigger than what I think I can manage?
  • Am I putting myself at personal risk? Are there any security or safety measures I need to take into account?
  • How do I expect people to respond to my advocacy? Will some people be against me and if so, how would they react?
  • Am I proposing any changes that would negatively impact a particular group of people? How might they react to this change?
  • Is there anything that would prevent my advocacy from happening?

Once you have identified some of the possible risks you might face, you need to identify how you might be able to deal with them. It is often helpful to put this into a table such as this:

An example of a risk management table

Possible Risk Corrective Action Detailed Action
A sector within the community may see my work as a threat and reactive negatively as a result Build relationships with this sector so they understand what we are trying to achieve

Meeting with sector leader

Provide information materials

On-going communication and regular meetings

I may be over ambitious with my project and could experience burn out Start with small objectives and gradually build up to bigger ones

Have a clear set of objectives for each activity

Monitor my progress

Recruit more team members to help with the work load

Again, looking at the potential risks might help you to identify some immediate actions you can take, or some longer-term activities you need to engage in. Use your understanding of the situation to constantly inform your activities and remain as open-minded and flexible to this learning as possible.

You might even discover that your initial idea or cause will need to change and that’s ok – the more we learn about situations, the more we adapt our responses to them, becoming more effective as we go.

Interested in doing advocacy? Read more about how you can champion change through advocacy here! And make sure to check out our full Youth Advocacy Guide.

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