Clare Dickinson, Dale Huntington, Rene Loewenson, Terri Collins, Sujit Ghosh and Nel Druce
In the past decade, civil society organizations (CSOs) have been adapting to changes in aid architecture, including external funding being increasingly directed through national planning and budgetary processes. ‘Budget advocacy’, aimed at influencing public budget allocations and expenditures, is increasingly the domain of CSOs and is also considered to be an approach to strengthen participation, transparency and accountability of government budgetary decision making processes. Based on an evaluation of three projects, this article discusses the contribution and impact of CSO budget advocacy to sexual and reproductive health allocations in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Uganda. The article identifies advocacy processes, critical success factors and lessons learned, and considers the contribution of realistic evaluation as a methodological approach for measuring and evaluating advocacy and policy change initiatives.