Checklist for budget analysis for advocacy

Toolkit arrow-right Analysing the issue

If youth-relevant policies and plans are to be successful, they must be supported by appropriate budgets for their implementation. That’s where the budget analysis tool comes in. It allows you to monitor – and possibly influence – budgets throughout the whole budget cycle.

Table of content

1. Introduction
2. The tool
3. Next steps
4. More information

1. Introduction

Laws lead to policies. Those policies are implemented through action plans. An action plan needs a budget to support its implementation. In fact, it all comes down to the availability of funding to make policies work. As part of a budget advocacy process, this checklist helps you to analyse the budget so you are able to exert influence.

Budgets can come from a government ministry at a national level, or be set at a programme, local or regional level. They can be annual or planned for more than one year. If we want to influence this budget process, we need to know when the funds will be allocated, who is in charge and whether they correspond with policy. There is often a gap between political plans and the budget actually provided for their implementation. The question is whether it can then be done in a way that will bring real results.

There may also be a gap between the (provisional) budget estimates and what is actually paid out and used. So the first step is knowing what is in the budget and tracking it throughout the budget cycle. Then we can check whether the funding has really been spent as agreed, and exert influence on the budget process so that it better responds to the needs of the target group.

What will the reader get out of it?

By applying this tool, you can generate important budget information. That information provides evidence and arguments for advocacy. The objective is to influence budgets at all stages, from allocation to reporting, in order to increase and better spend the resources for SRHR and youth, leaving no one behind.

Influencing the process can either target an increase in the budget, improve the level of successful budget expenditure and/or utilization, prioritise budget lines for specific actions or target groups, or make sure certain budgets can only used for specific activities or goals.

Which target group can use this tool?

The tool can be applied in different ways, by different target groups:

  • There are the analysers: people knowledgeable about budget cycles and budgets.
  • There are the advocates: who can use the results of the analysers to influence and monitor.
  • There’s also a need to inform and train wider target groups on the available budget and how to have access to it. And to give feedback on budget and budget cycle

There may, of course, be some overlap between the different groups. You may be both an analyser and an advocate! Youth-led budget analysis, taking into account the diversity of the target group – especially among marginalised youth – promotes large objectives like youth empowerment, capacity building in analysing skills, and self-advocacy. So a process like that cannot be complete without the inclusion of the decision- and policymakers (i.e. local department of health, Members of Council Assembly) that are key stakeholders to involve when it comes to policy implementation.

2. The tool

Check out the full checklist for budget analysis for advocacy.

Steps (order may differ):

  1. First you have to decide which budget of which topic or institution you will analyse. It is important to find out whether you’ll have access to the budget documents, and whether there is enough opportunity to influence the budget process. The questions under the section ‘General’ in the checklist can help you work this out.
  2. Search for additional information. If previous budget and/or financial reports are available, you can use them for comparison. Narrative reports can help you make the comparison between the money spent and the results achieved. Information on consultation and monitoring options is also good to know.
  3. Search for allies. Which organisations in line with your ideas have access – perhaps more than you do – to the budgeting process and to the key people or entities involved? Can you collaborate? It is also important to create an ongoing collaboration/communication with people knowledgeable about the policy and how it can or will be implemented. It is advisable to form a long term working group or to enter into discussions on existing multi-stakeholder platforms at a national or local level. Budget analysis is not something done just once. It is a continuous process over the lifespan of the current local government or policy at a national level. Engage with people who have expertise in budgeting, as well as budget providers, recipients and stakeholders/advocates. Assure diversity in this group to allow different perspectives, as well as qualitative representation of the target group.
  4. Start with mapping the budget cycle and the key people or entities involved, using the questions in section 2 of the checklist. The table in annex 1 can be helpful for that. Schedule your meetings in line with the budget cycle.
  5. In sections 3 – 6, the checklist has been split into four major blocks, forming the cycle:
  6. Budget cycle. Budget - budget approval - budget execution - budget evaluation.How far the budget you want to analyse has evolved in its cycle will determine where you should start. Be aware that this is a simplified process description. In practice, the cycle may contain a lot of ‘sub-steps’. See for example annex 1 in these guidelines: NGEC-GRB-Guidelines-for-National-Govt-in-Kenya.pdf ( You can make your checklist more specific by using the table in annex 1 of this tool and defining key questions per stage of the budget cycle.
  7. Analyse the answers in the checklist and make a detailed summary of the major findings, opportunities and challenges (see next steps).

3. Next steps

What to do after completing the tool?

Results of the budget (or: expenditure) analysis can be used for:

  • Advocacy: influencing the budget and expense monitoring.
  • Capacity building: sharing information on budget opportunities and how to get access to them.
  • Awareness raising (as part of advocacy): supporting public participation by sharing important information on key budget dates, venues/dates for budget consultations and priority issues to look out for.

Share your findings (step 6) in an accessible way with the target group and prepare your advocacy messages and strategies. See for a nice example of a position paper resulting from a budget analysis: HEALTH RESEARCH ISSUES IN THE BUDGET FY 2021 – final jeff 19.03.21.docx (

Additional tips

  • You can make use of the stakeholder mapping tool to identify decision-makers and other key figures involved in the budgeting.
  • The table in annex 1 can help you to clarify the different budget stages, periods in which they take place, and the institutions or authorities

4. More information

This tool was produced by the members of the working group and is a checklist for easy use.

Some extended tools for Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) analysis can be found here:

Learnings for developing the tool (optional)

We would like to hear about your experiences with this tool and look forward to receiving your feedback!


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