human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Institutional Advocacy Handbook

Fundamentals for Caritas Europa series

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This handbook aims to help Caritas organisations create an enabling environment: to strengthen their own organisations and by doing so to be in the long term better situated legally, financially and politically to carry out effective Political Advocacy actions for the benefit of the people in need.

What to find in this handbook?

Drawing on the experience of the Caritas network, this handbook is structured in two parts: the first on understanding and the second on ‘doing’ Institutional Advocacy.

Part 1: Understanding Institutional Advocacy

This first section contextualises Caritas Europa’s rationale for developing the concept and definition of Institutional Advocacy, including an overview of its three main dimensions and how it is distinct from Political Advocacy. It then provides a summary of the benefits of ‘doing’ Institutional Advocacy.

Part 2: ‘Doing’ Institutional Advocacy: Steps for Institutional Advocacy

All Caritas organisations and their national contexts are different and there is therefore no ‘one size fits all’ approach to ‘doing’ Institutional Advocacy. This handbook provides tools, approaches and ideas for Caritas organisations to implement Institutional Advocacy, incorporating the steps automatically into their overall organisational strategy.

‘Doing’ Institutional Advocacy has benefits for Caritas organisations of all sizes and capacities. As a smaller Caritas, significant time and resources may be expended on ensuring the organisation’s sustainability. Institutional Advocacy can strengthen small Caritas organisations and enable them to devote more time and energy to projects and activities. Adopting a strategic approach to Institutional Advocacy can also help both small and large Caritas organisations achieve an even bigger impact and provide concrete steps to address issues that may impact sustainability in the longer term.

Throughout the handbook, there are also case studies from various Caritas organisations that explain the positive outcomes of engaging in Institutional Advocacy as well as explanations of relevant Caritas Europa tools.

Caritas member organisations fulfil their mission by reaching out to men and women, children, youth and elders of all races and creeds, in particular the poor and marginalised; providing social services, saving lives, rebuilding and empowering communities, working for justice and integral human promotion. To do this professionally and effectively and contribute to achieving just structural changes, Caritas therefore seeks to strengthen close partnerships with public institutions, governments and public authorities, while also mobilising church leaders, parish groups including the poor themselves, volunteers and professionals, in collaboration with other civil society actors.”

– Hryhoriy Seleshchuk, Chair of the Institutional Advocacy Action Group