Good practice


For business associations and others engaging in dialogue and advocacy, there are a surprisingly wide range of resources available, both on and off line. Some sources have materials and tools which are freely available; others make a modest charge. The ILO has what is probably the most comprehensive resource to support business associations, and in particular employers business associations, to influence public policy. They have an initiative called Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises, with an excellent toolkit, designed primarily as a resource for employer organisations and consultants. It provides resources, methodologies and approaches to support any business membership organisation seeking to influence publci policy.

While written in a plain, user-friendly way, most of the tools contained in this kit require some understanding of basic research techniques and of the role of policy-making and advocacy. The Advocacy Progress Planner, now available via the Aspen Institute, is a brilliant tool which enables you to think about the steps in your advocacy plan. It is written for American audiences, so you have to ignore the options that are irrelevant and make allowances for the language. However, by the end of the process, you will have a well thought through logic model for your advocacy action. You can add notes as you go and save a PDF of the plan. This tool was originally provided by Continuous Progress. You may want to check the rest of their tips and tools.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation was founded in the US in 1948 to foster public policies, human-service reforms and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. In pursuit of this goal, the Foundation makes grants that help states, cities, and neighbuorhoods fashion more innovative, cost-effective responses to these needs. Amongst its other work, it publishes materials that might support your advocacy efforts. Have a look for example at their guide to measuring advocacy and policy

The California Endowment is a private, health foundation based in the US State of California and created in 1996. It believes that influencing public policy is essential to achieving any long-term solutions to California’s health issues. They see advocacy and policy work as important and offer an advocacy toolkit. It has commissioned two interesting reports which look at the challenges facing policy change evaluators and offer recommendations on approaches to policy and advocacy evaluation. If advocacy evaluation is of interest, then have a look at their reports.

The Centre for International Private Enterprise is a non-profit affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce and one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy. CIPE works in developing countries supporting the private sector in policy advocacy, institutional reform and improving governance. CIPE can provide management assistance, practical experience and financial support to local organisations to strengthen their capacity to implement democratic and economic reforms. It publishes a range of reports and handbooks that may be helpful to organisations beginning to get involved in advocacy.

One of the activities with which organisations often struggle is the writing of compelling yet succinct policy position papers. There are a wide range of resources available. Eoin Young and Lisa Quinn have written Writing Effective Policy Papers which has been written for policy advisers in central and eastern Europe, but is mostly just as relevant elsewhere. It is rather long but has some good advice. A much shorter summary is available at the Global Debate & Public Policy Challenge. This has been written for students entering a competition for writing public policy positions, but the advice is equally valid for writing papers intended to influence government. The University of California at Berkeley has a very short note on how to write a public policy memo which gives a good summary of what is necessary. The European Commission and Food & Agricultural Organisation have prepared a practical guide on Writing Policy Papers and Policy Briefs. This is just three pages long, and is well formatted, so may be a good starting point on writing and designing good policy briefs. There is a good resource on Public Policy Writing which takes the reader through all the steps of writing good policy position papers. is intended to serve as a comprehensive one-stop shop of knowledge and advice for stakeholders who are interested in building or maintaining public private dialogue to improve the business climate. They feature on their website a Charter of Good Practice in using Public Private Dialogue for Private Sector Development which was developed at the first International Workshop on Public Private Dialogue, held in Paris in February 2006.

The Thoughtful Activist: a toolkit for enhancing NGO campaigning and advocacy was written in 1999 to help NGOs with their advocacy, but you may find that it gives you some useful ideas. It was originally published by the New Economics Foundation, under a creative commons licence. It seems that it is no longer available from the NEF website but you can download a copy from Business Advocacy Network

ILEAP, International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty, focuses on trade issues. Peripherally, it provides support to improve regulation, primarily relating to trade. It has some relevant material on its website, including background briefs and negotiation advisory briefs.

The Policy Advocacy Lab (PAL) is an initiative of the Australian National University with a mission to to engage in foundational research, conduct outreach with practitioners, deliver research-led education and foster public debate and discussion around themes associated with policy advocacy in Australia.

Good practice examples

There are many good practice examples that you might find helpful, especially if you are publishing a research report looking at regulation of preparing a policy position paper for use in your advocacy. The Tourism Confederation of Tanzania commissioned a report that reviews regulation and administrative burden for firms in the tourism sector. It is an excellent example of a research document that clearly sets out the problem and the solution, starting "The administrative burdens in the Tanzanian tourism sector place a heavy cost on businesses in terms of time and money. Businesses would be more willing to pay levies if the levies were more streamlined and more transparent." It goes on to set out clearly the total burden on businesses and makes some sensible suggestions for improvement.

CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics & Environment is based in Nairobi, though the parent organisation was originally establised in India. They have a number of policy position papers on their website. One looks at the slightly esoteric issue of EU/ Indian arguments about the dumping of bed linen. It is quite densely written, but is well laid out, and could be a good model.

The US Senate's Republican Policy Committee puts together well prepared issue papers - which Senators on which Senators rely to mke decisions about voting. Obviously they cover more than just business and regulatory issues, but may offer a few ideas. Not surprisingly the US Senate's Democratic Policy Committee also prepare reports on key issues.

The conservative Heritage Foundation provides a wide range of "backgrounders", issue briefs, research reports etc all of which are excellent models of communicating information on a particular topic.

Possibly the best issue papers in Washington may be found at the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. Each topic area has a drop down menu and a host of one-pagers. They are succinct and to the point.

The OECD has a sample tax policy paper available.

Practical Action has a range of policy papers. See one on agriculture.

Standards for lobbyists

If you are interested in more transparency and accountability of lobbyists, then you need to see the International Standards for Lobbying Regulation published by Transparency International and others.

Evaluating advocacy

Evaluating advocacy is quite challenging, given long lead times, changes in objectives, attribution etc. A good starting place is the Advocacy Iceberg on the Better Evaluation website

Tools and templates

Here are some tools and templates which you might find helpful as you develop your ideas, prepare your plans and implement your activities.

Simple Gantt chart