What is advocacy who does it and what is its role
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What is advocacy, who does it and what is its role?. Joan O’Donnell The Advocacy Initiative www.advocacyinitiative.ie. Social Justice Advocacy. What. Why. Who. So what?. Advocacy. Lobbying. Lobbying. Role of Advocacy. Participation and cohesion Improved, better policies Expertise

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What is advocacy who does it and what is its role

What is advocacy,

who does it and what is its role?

Joan O’Donnell

The Advocacy Initiative


Social Justice Advocacy




So what?

Role of Advocacy

  • Participation and cohesion

  • Improved, better policies

  • Expertise

  • Long-term perspective

  • Watchdog role

  • Views of minorities

  • Ground truth and new issues

  • Communication and buy-in

  • Help in implementation

  • Also as a nursery


“There was hardly a major voluntary organization in the country that didn’t have its hand out for cash. This was because former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern brought dissent into the semi-State world by subsidizing interest groups to beat their own drums from public money.”

Michael McDowell, referring to the INOU and NWCI

Irish Times, 27th February 2012

“I welcome that decision. It is a matter for the organs for this state to determine what should be matters for public inquiry. I do not believe that any privately-sponsored body has the right to determine what is right or wrong.”

Senator Brian Hayes on the decision to withdraw funding from the anti-corruption advocacy NGO, the Centre for Public Inquiry. Seanad Eireann, Debates, 8th December 2005

“Asked about the 35% cut in funding for the National Women’s Council, the Minister for Justice & Equality … decided to favour organizations providing services over those providing advocacy or research activities, which meant difficult choices, in some cases the elimination of funding and the closure of projects”

Minister Allan Shatter, Dail Eireann, Debates, 7th February 2012

Reported in www.oireachtasbrief.ie

“All Women’s Council, the Minister for Justice & Equality of this highlights just how little influence social actors have had on key state policy through the many fora of social partnership. They have been co-opted into an elite-driven consensus which has offered no real prospect of achieving a greater balance between goals of efficiency and equity in the Irish political economy.”

Publication for The Community Platform

Murphy and Kirby (2008) A Better Ireland is Possible

Women’s Council, the Minister for Justice & Equality the state and the sector each recognise their mutual right to constructively critique one another’s actions and policies”

White Paper, Supporting Voluntray Activity

Government of Ireland, 2000

“The contribution made by the voluntary sector is essential and cannot be measured in monetary terms alone – voluntary organisations have a great capacity to harness the concern and altruism of people... They also are pivotal in raising awareness of the issue and advocating for change. While at times this may cause a degree of tribulation in a Minister’s office, robust and evidence based criticism is something that I value and welcome.”

Launch of the Homeless Policy Statement

Minister Jan O’Sullivan, February 2013

Allan Kavanagh, 2012 essential and cannot be measured in monetary terms

39% of nonprofit organisation say they do Social Justice Advocacy

  • 17 year old service provider, 25 or less staff, with 2 FT and 2 PT staff working on advocacy

  • Top sectors: social services, CD & Housing, Education & research (followed by religious and health)

Key issues : international)

Children and families (10%)

Poverty (8%)

Education (8%)

Employment (7%)

Local development (6%)

Social services (5%)

Older people (5%)

Disability (5%)

Homelessness and housing (5%)

And many more…

Types of advocacy:

Public awareness (11%)

Networking (9%)

Committees (9%)

Lobbying (8%)

National networks (8%)

Consultation with policy makers (7%)

Conferences/seminars (7%)

Press and media research (6%)

Public meetings (5%)

And many more…


Public (16%)

Local committees (15%)

Government departments (9%)

Social partnership structures (9%)

Councils (7%)

Others NGOs (6%)

Ministers (6%)

52% focus on internal, international)

48% on external

55% planned, 45% unplanned

69% rate themselves as effective or very effective but … international)

  • 84% agreed that policy decision making in Ireland is fragmented

  • 89% disagreed that values that underpin policy making are explicit

  • Just over half agreed that policy decisions are underpinned by evidence

What does the public think? international)

72% believe it is important for charities to campaign and lobby government.

Roughly 25-30% have a reasonable understanding of the specifics of social justice advocacy

Perceived influence international)

Desired influence

The advocacy initiative www advocacyinitiative ie anna@advocacyinitiative ie @ amvisser

Anna Visser international)

The advocacy [email protected] @amvisser