What’s Your Strategy?

Here’s another post in our New Year’s mini-series on advocacy planning and evaluation.

For many, one of the biggest challenges in advocacy planning and evaluation is determining how to get the most bang out of what is usually very few bucks.  With such limited resources, how do we determine what activities will take us the furthest down the path towards our ultimate goal?

If you are asking questions like this – you are engaging in strategic thinking (congratulations!).

Now, unsurprisingly, in the world of board games or business management there is a near endless supply of literature on the subject of strategic planning.  There is decidedly less so for public policy advocacy work.

Thankfully, the bountiful internet has once again provided for us.

Here is a wonderful article I dug up recently from the GIA Reader a publication of Grantmakers in the Arts.  In it, authors Martha Campbell and Julia Coffman sketch out a step by step strategic planning process for public policy advocates.  The target audience of the article is grantmakers, but the process really applies for anyone engaging in the work.  The steps they provide are:

  1. Choose a Public Policy Goal
  2. Understand the Challenge
  3. Identify Which Audiences Can Move the Issue
  4. Determine How Far Audiences Must Move
  5. Establish What It Will Take to Move Audiences Forward

(Step 1 certainly ties back to last week’s post on defining policy and advocacy outcomes.)

After laying out the steps, Campbell and Coffman provide a nifty chart that lays many of the most common public policy activities advocates use.  Its a great visual framework to help you choose the appropriate activity based on your target audience and desired outcome.

If you are operating with limited resources and capacity, it makes sense to focus your activities on the strategies most likely to achieve the change you seek.  If your activities are scattered all across this chart, maybe you can re-visit your plan with a critical eye to ensure you are deploying your resources and efforts as strategically as possible!

Tools to Support Public Policy Grantmaking – GIA Reader Spring 2010


New Year’s Resolution – Better Advocacy Evaluation!

Happy New Year, everybody!

The Dose of Change blog has been in the dark for quite a while, but that’s because we’ve been busy making BIG plans for 2011 including expanding our menu of trainings and growing our Resource Bank.

So shake off the post-holiday stupor, there’s work to be done!

One of my work-related New Year’s resolutions is to do a better job planning and evaluating the work we all do – that is, HIV/AIDS policy and advocacy.

‘But Jim!’ you say, ‘How can we plan when our work is determined by so many outside forces?  Plus, our work is hard to evaluate!  How can we say what we did actually influenced a policy or advocacy outcome?’

Ok maybe you didn’t actually say that, but it’s true that some advocates are resistant to the idea that our work can be outcomes-oriented or metrics-driven.  However, as the successes of program evaluation in other non-profit areas continue to mount there are a lot of smart people out there trying to bring these tools to the work we do, without compromising the big-picture social changes for which we strive.

A few years ago, some of these smart people, from a group called Organizational Research Services, prepared a report for the Annie E. Casey Foundation called A Guide to Measuring Policy and Advocacy.  I stumbled across this document a few weeks ago and keep returning to it as I think about the year ahead.

In particular, page 16 of the guide gave me a particularly delightful ‘AHA!’ moment.  Here the authors list out six different categories of the kinds of outcomes (what we hope to achieve) that relate to policy and advocacy work.  Open up the PDF and go to page 17 – go! (more…)

As Political Landscape Shifts, Big Job Remains

Every AIDS advocate knows something big happened last week.  Partisan politics aside, what do the election results mean for people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and the policies that impact them?

First a quick recap:

Republicans retook control of the U.S. House of Representatives, captured six state legislatures, and gained 12 governor’s seats.  GOP leaders have made no secret that they are interpreting the election results as a mandate to repeal or weaken elements of health care reform passed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March.

Democrats, for their part, were able to hold onto the U.S. Senate – although their majority is now just 53 seats.  The D’s also picked up three governor’s seats including California, the largest state.  Several state legislatures now find themselves split between Democratic and Republican control, just as states begin to turn to the task of implementing reforms laid out in the ACA.

The impact divided government will have on the implementation of the ACA and the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy remains to be seen.  One thing is certain, in Congress and in statehouses across the country, AIDS advocates will need to monitor and engage every step of the way as substantive and far reaching decisions are still going to be made.

Here are a few good ways to stay informed over the coming days:

amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, just released a report highlighting the impact of budget cuts recently proposed by the incoming House Republican majority.

Tomorrow (11/10), the National Conference of State Legislatures will be hosting a webinar on the 2011 timeline for state level implementation of health care reform.  State level victories by the GOP means opponents of health care reform will be well positioned to obstruct or alter state-level implementation.  This means advocates need to be prepared to aggressively push every step of the way.

Next Monday (11/15), Dose of Change is teaming up with Treatment Access Expansion Project and the Coalition for a National AIDS Strategy to host a webinar on 1115 Medicaid waivers, which may provide a non-legislative route for states to immediately expand their Medicaid programs to low-income people living with HIV without having to wait until 2014.

Personally, over the last week I’ve been loving my subscription to Kaiser’s Daily Health Policy Report even more than I usually do.  It’s an easy way to keep tabs on important health policy developments but also provides a broad overview of how health policy is covered in the media, which is important for advocates when we begin to think about how to shape our messages.  Check out Kaiser’s great survey on voter opinion of the Affordable Care Act.

Leave a comment and let us know what you are ready, watching, or listening to.

Much more to come, so stay tuned.


Mark Your Calendars: 11/15 Webinar on ’1115 Medicaid Waiver’

On 11/15, AIDS Advocates Rally Support for Medicaid’s 1115 Waiver Option

Webinar on State Medicaid 1115 Waiver Option to Expand HIV Care
Monday , November 15, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

From the obscure depths of Medicaid policy comes a unique opportunity for states to immediately expand access to Medicaid for people living with HIV before they become disabled.  It’s called the 1115 waiver and we want to tell you all about it!

Join us on Monday, November 15 (11/15, get it?) at 1:00 p.m. EST for a free webinar training session on how your state can take advantage of the 1115 waiver.   To join the webinar:

1.  Call in to 1-888-517-2470 and enter passcode 8583668# when prompted

2. CLICK HERE to view the presentation slides or copy and paste the following link into your web browser: https://www.conferenceplus.com/confcenter/meeting_center/default.aspx?100512&jnhst=N&o=UiWEpNTMbeLroe


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