Challenges for the policy influence of civil society organizations in Eastern Europe

Experiences | Between the months of July and August 2015, the Policy Influence, Monitoring and Evaluation Programme at CIPPEC gave a series of webinars on policy influence to a Romanian civil society organization. The webinars were transmitted via Skype and the presentations and reference material were shared via email.

The content of the workshop attended by the Romanian Foundation for Children, Community and Family (FRCCF) was designed to give an introduction to the concept of policy influence with an applied approach placing emphasis in tailoring the material to the needs, experience and level of development of the organization. In this way, the webinars were divided into three modules, each with a theoretical and applied section. The theoretical section was guided by presentations given by CIPPEC and group discussions while the practical section included exercises done collectively during the class and more complex tasks that were done as homework and handed in before the following webinar.


The objective of the first module “Introduction to Policy Influence” was to introduce the participants to the main concepts regarding policy influence and to the importance of defining policy influence objectives. To this end, the policy influence plan tool was introduced and discussed. The group exercise was a SWOT analysis and the homework was the elaboration of a diagnostic summary of the policy influence capacities of the organization.


During the second module, stress was put on the development of a policy influence plan. This entailed reflecting on the stakeholders that may help in achieving the organization’s policy influence objectives and discussing targeted stakeholder engagement strategies. During the workshop, a stakeholder map was produced. As homework, the participants elaborated a stakeholder engagement matrix.


Lastly, the third module addressed the communicational component of a policy influence plan. In this context, different communication tools were discussed. The group activity was the definition of a key message to be communicated and the elaboration of a communication strategy.


This experience allowed us to see how the methodology employed, that uses theory as a building block but leaves the center stage to the practical approach, gives participants an active role in the learning process and puts their needs in the center of discussion. In this way, the homework and activities done during the webinars are spaces where a guided reflection takes place regarding the policy influence strategies of the organization. Their final aim is that participants finish the workshop with more than notes on their notebooks, but with a new product that serves as a starting point for debate and organizational growth.  In the post-workshop survey, participants regarded the exercises as “very useful” and stated that the concepts discussed can be successfully applied to the daily practices of their organizations.


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