The most recent EUConsult Spotlight on 14 April was on the subject of Advocacy. The two speakers were Jeremy Smith from Buxton UK, Advocacy Hub, and Jean-Martial Bonis Charancle from Montreal, Canada, Advocacy Hub and Kayros Network. The session was facilitated by Martin Georgi, EUConsult Board member.
Jeremy and Jean-Martial presented in a compressed form the results of an in-depth study based on interviews with 12 international organisations involved with advocacy work. They gave an overview of the status quo during the pandemic and an outlook on how advocacy and campaigning might change leading into a post-Covid future, including the effects on the organisations undertaking such work.
The changing situation at the beginning of the pandemic was described by the two speakers as „Eight Uncertainties“ facing the organisations. The situation for advocacy has changed internationally with a changing relationship between state and civil society. In some countries, the „open spaces“ for organisations have been significantly reduced, in others, there is increasing cooperation. New organisations and new ways of working have arisen on a national and international level due for example to changing and unequal access to decision-makers and to financial resources.
The fundraising during the pandemic has proven to be quite unequal: while large organisations with experience in fundraising during crises have generally done well. Often even increased their income, other organisations and in particular many smaller organisations have often faced a significant reduction in revenue. The long-term effects which will be visible after the end of the crisis are described by the two authors as a „fundraising time bomb“.
For the future, the authors imagine four options for organisational development:
- Large organisations which have remained successful during the crisis may judge that they are „still in the room“ and might want to continue their advocacy efforts with little change from before the pandemic
- Some existing organisations and many newer organisations may rather choose a „flexible rebranding“ to show themselves more as movements than as established institutions.
- New organisations with little access to funding or to decision-makers may choose to go „all virtual“ and work with new and innovative methods of advocacy and new forms of regional, national and international alignment.
- Organisations that have lost access to decision-makers or that are dissatisfied with online-activism might choose the path of „radicalisation“, by increasing protests, a new attention to offline activism and new alliances.
These four directions are already observable in some organisations now and will be relevant not only for advocacy and campaigning but also for fundraising and organisational development in general. They can be a useful scheme for guiding organisations to an adequate role after the pandemic.
As an outlook, Jeremy and Jean-Martial announced their interest to re-evaluate the situation one year after their study. The participants at the Spotlight session showed their interest in such a continuation as well as in the details of the study by asking many questions in an intensive Q+A session after the presentation. A summary of the study as well as any subsequent followups can be found on the website of the Advocacy Hub: