Advocacy is one of the four strategic activities of Partners Worldwide, and Advocate Intentionally is a strategic direction that we identified as essential to achieving Vision 2020 goals. We can equip entrepreneurs with training, mentoring and capital, but to achieve our vision of a world without poverty where all have life and have it abundantly, we also need environments where businesses and people can thrive.
When clients are not able to register their businesses, have the electricity off more than on, are threatened by gang violence and targeted for bribes by corrupt officials, even the brightest entrepreneurs struggle to thrive. These obstacles require more than training or mentoring to overcome, they require advocacy.
For Partners Worldwide, advocacy joins people together to influence decision-makers—to promote policies, practices, and environments where businesses and people flourish.
The following five principles guide advocacy for Partners Worldwide:
1. LISTEN -- To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. Proverbs 13:18 (NIV)
Advocacy is most effective when it starts with listening—listening to business clients and the voices of the vulnerable. Community leaders and local institutions are best positioned to do this listening, to hear community dreams, obstacles, and ideas. Those experiencing challenges often best understand the root causes and are the best catalysts for change.
2. SPEAK -- Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-10 (NIV)
Advocacy is fundamentally about speaking out against injustice. As communities seek justice, they glorify God. Partners Worldwide strives to enable local leaders to promote justice. But the responsibility for action extends the world over. The global partnership seeks to amplify the voices from the impacted communities.
3. COLLABORATE -- Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 (NIV)
Through our partnership model, local leaders engage in an equal partnership with Partners Worldwide staff and Business Affiliates. Drawing upon strengths of members, partnerships provide prayer, experience, connections, and encouragement. Change is most attainable when the partnership draws upon the experience and influence of strategic advocacy partners. As we mirror the body of Christ, we glorify God and more effectively promote flourishing environments.
4. PRAY -- I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth. John 14:16 (NIV)
As we advocate against injustices that have existed for decades, prayer is essential. Often, advocacy is seeking Christ in the midst of sin—which requires the power of the Holy Spirit accessible through prayer. When groups join together in constant prayer, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will and moves us to action. Advocacy without prayer is impossible.
5. HOPE -- We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Psalm 33:20-21 (NIV)
Promoting an environment where business and people can flourish is challenging and takes time. As we yearn for Christ’s return, we patiently advocate for restoration and reconciliation. Change will rarely be swift, but God is faithful. We seek to remain hopeful in the midst of persecution and injustice. We search for goodness and light in all places and situations.
How Might LCI Leaders and Partnership Managers Engage in Advocacy?
Stage 1: Discover
Listen to business clients and community members. Hear what helps their business and community to thrive and what obstacles they are facing.
Stage 2: Understand
Dig deeper. Gain a thorough understanding of the root causes of any obstacles to business flourishing.
Stage 3: Dream
Envision flourishing. Imagine, with as many community members and business clients as possible, what a thriving environment would look like.
Stage 4: Design
Create initial advocacy actions. Gather your core team and decide how you will start to advocate.
Stage 5: Implement
Start small. Begin to intentionally advocate and reflect on what is and isn’t successful so that you can improve.
Want to go deeper?
- We have created an Advocacy Toolkit inspired by research and stories from our network. We are excited to share this resource with you and hear from you what works, what doesn’t, and what we should improve as we learn together. Please contact your local PW staff representative for more information about using this resource.
- We can’t recommend enough the Field Guide to Human Centered Design from IDEO.org. Innovation and listening skills are essential in ending poverty through advocacy.
- Transparency International is a world class organization in the arena of advocacy and has many great resources readily available, including:
- This Advocacy 101 Guide from Micah Challenge USA talks about root causes of injustice and obtaining power for those who are often powerless.
- Doingbusiness.org - helpful research on the ease of doing business in various contexts, as compiled by the World Bank.