Short course: Advocating to influence people, politics and policies

Organised by On Think Tanks
Event type Courses
Location Online
Start date 4 October 2017
End date 1 November 2017

Most think tanks consciously seek to influence what powerful institutions do. A few years ago, a prominent American politician left Congress to head a large think tank because, he explained, working for that think tank would give him greater power to influence U.S. politics and policy. However, many other think tanks struggle to influence public debates and institutional actions for a very broad variety of reasons. In a context in which donors are demanding to see “impact” and a growing number of competing groups (from lobbyists to campaigning charities) aggressively push their own policy prescriptions, think tanks need to learn to effectively advocate in order to survive.

The module helps those looking to:

  • Plan, budget and implement an effective research-based advocacy strategy
  • Develop and clearly communicate actionable policy recommendations
  • Ensure that their policy recommendations are noticed, debated and ultimately adopted
  • Increase the public and political relevance of their think tank and its contribution to democracy
  • Help their think tank to survive and grow in an increasingly competitive environment
  • Change the world in a positive way

Who is this for?                                               

This short course is for think tankers who want to use high quality policy research to influence public debates and institutional actions. It is aimed at people who have experience in policy research environments, but who have not approached advocacy systematically before. (Note: Simply calling a press conference every time you publish a paper, and maybe Tweeting it out a few times too, does not count as systematic advocacy.) Think tankers from a broad variety of backgrounds – research, communications, proposal development, grants management – can benefit from this course if they bring along a passion for using research to influence people, politics and policies.


This short course consists of the following:

  • A background note on think tank advocacy that presents different approaches to advocacy and provides useful tips, tricks and tools.
  • An online forum to share comments, experiences and pose questions with the trainers and other participants
  • Two webinars facilitated by Till Bruckner
  • The delivery of a practical exercise to apply the lessons learned to your organisation; this will receive personalised feedback from the trainer

 What will we cover?

The outline of the short course will cover:

Background note on advocacy

  • Different approaches to advocacy
  • How to integrate advocacy and research in the project cycle
  • Tools for planning advocacy campaigns
  • Useful information sources

Discussion forum: Influencing people, politics and policies

First webinar: Moving from theory to practice

  • Strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to advocacy
  • Define advocacy aims
  • Define research needs

Second webinar: Making it happen

  • Define stakeholders and specific decision points
  • Develop actionable policy recommendations
  • Why should decision-makers listen to you?
  • Why should decision-makers take action?
  • Insider approach or external pressure?

Personal task: Develop an integrated research-and-advocacy project including timeline

Key dates

Kick-off: October 4th, 2017

Webinar 1: October 11th, 2017

Webinar 2: October 25th, 2017

Delivery of exercise: November 1st, 2017

The time for the webinars is 3 PM GMT. Both webinars will be recorded and shared afterwards with participants.


TillBrucknerTill Bruckner: Till has over a decade of experience in the field of research-driven advocacy. His professional history spans research, advocacy, policy analysis, and journalism. He has worked in a wide variety of contexts, including the UK, Afghanistan, Georgia, North Africa and the Caribbean. Till currently works as the advocacy manager for Transparify, consults with a variety of organizations, writes for Foreign Policy and other publications, blogs with the Huffington Post, and is a regular contributor to the On Think Tanks blog. He is interested in the hidden power relationships that structure global politics and our everyday lives, and in learning new ways of using research and advocacy to produce positive outcomes. Till holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Bristol. His full professional history and list of publications can be found on his LinkedIn page.


The short course costs GBP 125.00. You may also join by signing up to the entire series of 7 Short Courses at GBP 700.00 for the series.

Early bird registration fee for the course is GBP 105.00 (only for first five registrations) and for the entire series is GBP 600.00 (only for first five registrations)

Checkout other Courses in the Evolving Think Tanks Series 2017.

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