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Knowledge product

Champions for life: How to identify, support, and evaluate advocates for social change

‘Champion building’ is a key advocacy tactic that many organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) employ in their influencing work. This final report collates evidence and learning from the wider field of advocacy building.

BMGF and its partners have extensive experience engaging with and supporting champions but there is a gap in the literature in bringing wider experience together to understand what this adds up to and what generalizable lessons can be drawn from it.

This report, commissioned by BMGF, seeks to contribute to the wider field of advocacy and leadership development by presenting and collating learning from the literature and practice of champion building, including planning, implementing, and measuring the effectiveness of these efforts.

The research focus is on ‘grasstops’ – as opposed to ‘grassroots’ – champions who we define as individuals who are in a position of power or influence to advance an issue or a cause. However, during the research process, we found useful information that was relevant to ‘grassroots’ champions. As a result, while the primary focus remains on ‘grasstops’ champions, there are references to champion building applicable to both.