The 4th regional advocacy workshop, organized by Helvetas Switzerland and the project “Zajedno za aktivno gradansko društvo – ACT” from Serbia, took place in Belgrade in the period from September 7 to September 9, 2022 – #DevPolHack.
Within the framework of the workshop, more than 35 participants from several Helvetas projects from the region from Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, took part and applied the concept of digital advocacy in the implementation of projects from various spheres, including civil society, private and public sector.
The concept of digital advocacy is a relatively new tool that is part of the overall process of advocacy and is applied within campaigns and lobbying, largely on social networks and the web, as well as in combination with physical events. The main goal of digital advocacy is to speed up the processes of introducing certain policies from any sphere in society.
This year, the regional advocacy workshop was enriched by Heartbeats Innovation & Communication, a company that has a strong portfolio of digital advocacy interventions in the region and beyond.
The design concept of any digital advocacy includes several steps that are applied in a standard format, regardless of the topic to be represented. The process includes:
- Collective thinking and sharing of ideas. This segment also defines the problem for which advocacy is needed.
- Defining a framework for digital advocacy that includes: (1) Why – the purpose and values to be advocated, (2) Who – the target groups and digital security during the advocacy, (3) How – effective messages of communication to the target groups and a Call-To-Action, and (4) Where – channels and formats through which advocacy will be implemented.
- A Hackathon for digital advocacy is an additional tool that can help define the format of advocacy, in which an appropriate idea is selected and then the idea is mapped to a final solution. The hackathon enables a competition between teams of professionals who compete in conceptualizing advocacy. Creating a structured representation in a certain period of time brings a great advantage because the hackathon itself imposes competition between teams and generates excellent solutions in a short period of time.
To determine whether the defined advocacy has all the elements needed for success, each idea is presented to a specific audience in order to test the solution.
During the 4th regional advocacy workshop, the project teams worked on creating an advocacy campaign for waste management on local level, but also covered topics such as inclusion of companies in formal vocational education and training, increasing the interest of students in vocational education, promotion of vocational schools and increasing awareness among young people about their right to vote and the impact of their voting during elections. The next regional advocacy workshop will be held in Kosovo in 2023.