As advocacy organizations work to create change, they each need a strategy for influencing the ultimate decision maker – the targeted person or set of people that need to be influenced in order for the organization to achieve success in its advocacy goals.
Establishing target audiences is a critical first step, but even with a highly sophisticated strategy in place, organizations often fail to consider how they will actually influence those audiences to create their desired change.
There are many challenges, or “blind spots,” an organization must contend with to succeed in charting a path toward influence. Although these blind spots can undermine a change strategy, there are ways to navigate toward success by learning to identify—and eliminate—them before they disrupt an organization’s strategy.
In order to use influence as effectively as possible, it’s important to identify how and why blind spots sneak into change strategies. Some of the top culprits include starting too fast and not doing enough homework about how decisions will actually get made; making strategic decisions out of order; overestimating a decision maker’s willingness to step out on a difficult issue, or choosing the wrong grounds for arguing a case.
To clear away any and all blind spots, it’s vital to develop a clear influence strategy that incorporates four fundamental elements. These elements include having a clear sense of the decisions that need to get made, understanding who makes the decisions, an informed hypothesis about how the decisions will get made, and an understanding of and a gameplan for how the organization can influence the decision-making process.
Organizations that take the time and effort to approach the process of influence in a strategic way will enjoy a greater chance of creating the change they seek.
This practical guide will help nonprofits and foundations successfully navigate the trail of influence to achieve success in their social change efforts.