Policy Advocacy: A Toolkit for Microfinance Associations

This guide, written by Sharon D’Onofrio for the SEEP Network, provides support for microfinance associations to build capacity and become advocates for the sector. The guide outlines a range of practical tools, examples, and lessons learned that can be used to support the planning and execution of capacity development and advocacy campaigns.


"Can associations be influential in promoting policy reform? Absolutely. As member-based organizations, associations have considerable advantages. In many ways they are natural advocates. Associations are formed on the premise of common interests. Through membership in associations, microfinance institutions contribute to a shared identity and mission. This collective voice provides a degree of legitimacy that other organizations often lack. However, it is not without its challenges. The diversity of membership that many times is the strength of an association can also pose obstacles with respect to forming consensus opinions. Short-term priorities of all kinds can compete for funding, as well as the attention of management, which can weaken policy-related efforts.

How can associations influence policy? In fact, there isn’t just one approach. The role of associations is multifaceted and represents actions that result in both direct and indirect influence. These activities are not mutually exclusive; in many ways they can be seen as a continuum in which advocacy efforts develop on the basis of member needs, internal capacity, and the external political environment. For example, regional associations, whose membership is often comprised of national-level networks and MFIs from multiple countries, typically engage in policy in a more indirect manner. By doing so, they facilitate the work of local representatives. National associations, on the other hand, can influence policy through any number of means."


  • Chapter 1: Associations as Advocates 3
  • Chapter 2: Association Capacity and Readiness 5
  • Chapter 3: Advocacy Planning Model 9
  • Chapter 4: Identifying and Analyzing the Problem 10
    • Problem Identification: Consultation 10
    • Problem Identification: Focused Research 11
    • Problem Analysis 12
  • Chapter 5: Establishing Priorities and Goals 15
    • Setting Priorities 15
    • Policy Goals 16
  • Chapter 6: Mapping the Policy Landscape 19
    • Policy Process 19
    • Political Context 21
  • Chapter 7: Understanding the Target Audience 22
    • Primary and Secondary Audiences 22
    • Identifying Potential Allies and Opponents 23
    • Audience Profiles 24
  • Chapter 8: Developing a Communications Strategy 26
    • Developing a Message 26
    • Tailoring Messages 27
    • Message Formats and Messengers 28
    • Media Strategies 29
  • Chapter 9: Forming an Action Plan 32
    • Short-Term Objectives 32
    • Monitoring and Evaluation 32


D’Onofrio, S. (2010). Policy Advocacy: A Toolkit for Microfinance Associations, SEEP Network. Retrieved from: http://networks.seepnetwork.org/ppt-newhtml/Policy_Advocacy_mar2010_web.en_.pdf

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