Before we can begin to build an advocacy network, we need to learn more about the key people that need to be involved, how best to network them together and how such a network would help them work together more efficiently.

We do this through the Network Opportunity Assessment, an analysis that focuses on the state of the Seven Elements of an Advocacy Network among those working across a movement. Understanding the state of the Seven Elements among these leaders is useful in illuminating whether an opportunity exists to create, strengthen or expand a successful advocacy network. If we determine that such an opportunity exists, the Network Opportunity Assessment report provides clients with a detailed understanding of the steps, actions or practices that might be required to build or strengthen a successful advocacy network―and offers a clear plan for doing so. This includes:

  • Making sure everyone involved in building the network is on the same page and there is a clear vision for the overall movement.

  • Teaching our clients about the basic structure of advocacy networks and the functionalities that enable them to be effective.

  • Outlining the current, largely unorganized state of the network we are aiming to build.

  • Exploring the ways advocacy leaders will be recruited and the types of services and campaign opportunities that will be available to them via the network.

  • Providing a glimpse at how an advocacy network will move change forward quickly and efficiently.

The goal of the Network Opportunity Assessment is to identify powerful connections and explore how our clients can build, strengthen or expand their advocacy network. Through a series of interviews with key stakeholders in the movement, we look strategically at the different roles involved and work to better understand how to align individuals, organizations, campaigns, policy, and communication strategies in the context of our partners’ work. We discuss organizational, overall movement and network-specific ideas to improve the state of the Seven Elements, as well as the priority of investments in staff, technology and content in balance with other activities.

Together with our clients, we look ahead to the potential for the network and assess the ways to strengthen the network’s capacities for advocacy―and ultimately to advance advocacy goals.

This defined and limited engagement also serves as a reasonable, low-risk opportunity to see if the teams are ready to work together to build an advocacy network. Our process starts with this discovery work and its success is tied to understanding the people, issues, politics, performance and operating environment of the network participants.

By the time the Network Opportunity Assessment is complete, our clients have a better understanding of the movement they are working in and how an advocacy network will allow them to move change forward in a more powerful, impactful way.