The Advocacy Initiative has its origins in a discussion at the Centre for Non-profit Management (TCD) Summer School in 2008, which addressed the theme of Relationships and Representation: Irish Civil Society at the Crossroads. This event considered various aspects of the development of the community and voluntary sector and its relationship with the State and public agencies. The sector's engagement in, and experience of, advocacy was one element that featured prominently in discussions and Summer School participants agreed to support an initiative to explore the current state of 'advocacy and the sector'. Subsequently, a 'Café Workshop' was held in October 2008 to further examine this question and to test the sector's interest in taking some form of collaborative action on the issue.

At the conclusion of the Café Workshop a small number of individual sectoral leaders indicated their commitment to further action and, through a series of subsequent meetings, a Steering Group of organisational representatives, eventually numbering 17, was formed. Over a period of some months the Steering Group developed a proposal for collaborative action to examine the current status of advocacy by community and voluntary organisations and its impact on the sector's relationships with Government and public agencies. Having sourced philanthropic funding the Steering Group appointed Middlequarter Limited and Montague Communications, following a tendering competition, to jointly manage the first phase of the Initiative.

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