human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Institutional advocacy

Cooperating strategically


We support Caritas organisations to cooperate strategically with their governments, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders on political, legislative and budgetary processes, in order to propose viable national solutions in response to the needs of people experiencing poverty or social exclusion.

Institutional advocacy encompasses the organisational and strategic efforts of Caritas organisations to professionalise their political advocacy, organisational functioning and ability to access public funding. This means they are in a better position to be included by national governments as interlocutors in strategic dialogues on policy development and implementation and to be considered as reliable social service providers and advocates for the poorest in society.

Why do we need this?

We want to help Caritas organisations create an enabling environment through which they are able to carry out strong advocacy actions for the benefit of people in need and to strengthen their own organisations.

Caritas organisations increasingly see the need to collaborate closely with their national governments (and in alliances with other civil society actors) and, where possible, with the European institutions.

We focus on three specific aspects in terms of institutional advocacy:

  1. The legislative perspective and the legal framework in which many Caritas organisations operate.
  2. The financial aspects, such as access to public funds for social services and social inclusion.
  3. The political arena in which Caritas organisations advocate for better social policies.

How does it work?

Institutional advocacy is a relatively new concept in our network. The Institutional Advocacy Action Group has developed, on the basis of experiences and needs gathered at a forum on the issue in January 2017, a roadmap to facilitate the sharing of experiences and information and to stimulate and encourage discussion among Caritas organisations. It consciously does not offer a top-down definition or a one-stop-shop model for all organisations.

In the next four years, we will accompany Caritas organisations on issues concerning, procedural advocacy and negotiation, EU funding, coalition-building with strategic partners, and the collection, promotion and transfer of promising practices. We will also organise events and study visits on the topic of institutional advocacy.

We will carry out a study detailing examples of where Caritas organisations have successfully strengthened relations with their national governments. Examples of institutional advocacy within the network will be collected and promoted throughout the four year period.

As this concept is newly unfolding within the network, we will also develop capacity building tools, such as a handbook, and will organise events for Caritas organisations to meet and discuss ways of creating enabling environments by which to deliver their institutional advocacy strategies. The roadmap likewise includes, for instance, institutional advocacy in the Organisational Development Learning Path, with links also to the Advocacy Learning Path.

This work should mean that by the end of 2020, all Caritas organisations in Europe will have cooperated strategically with national governments in political, legislative and budgetary processes affecting the poor and excluded.

ask an expert

Shannon Pfohman
Policy and Advocacy Director
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 26 51
Mob: +32 (0)476 98 44 77