Building Knowledge and Will: Advocacy Tools & Techniques

Identify your audience and what they need to know: The audience may be a few people at the right moment. A grantmaker who funded years of advocacy for transportation reform recalls that the whole effort began when a few leaders of policy research groups recognized “a unique policy moment, an opportunity for change that hadn’t existed before.” What created the moment, more than anything else, was a particular configuration of congressional leadership and staff, a growing body of research in which those officials seemed to be interested, and a growing political weakness among defenders of the status quo. So what eventually became a national movement for transportation reform, including at least two significant pieces of federal legislation, started with an observation about a potentially receptive audience — a small number of people in influential positions who really cared about the issue.

Research and Knowledge Development - Building your Case: The goal is recommendations not research... When one foundation began investing in prevention of smoking and tobacco-related disease, it found that researchers in the field tended to focus on epidemiological questions — such as patterns of use and cancer rates. The lead grantmaker decided instead to concentrate her research dollars on assessments of public- and private-sector policies that can affect tobacco use. Supporting research with direct policy implications — for example, the effect of the price of cigarettes on consumption, or whether tobacco met the legal definition of a drug — produced two fairly quick benefits. First, the initial research got extensive exposure in the academic press, leading other researchers to pay more attention to policy-related questions and the whole field to expand. And second, the research findings became almost instant centerpieces of the subsequent advocacy efforts, leading to campaigns to raise cigarette taxes and to promote regulation of nicotine as an addictive substance.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Advocacy Funding.