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Evaluating Advocacy Activities

In 2010, EAA produced two resources that will be useful to all organizations seeking to assess the effect of their advocacy work:

Monitoring & Evaluation of Advocacy Campaigns: Literature Review (PDF, DOC)
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, 2010.  EAA’s literature review sets out to identify the challenges to evaluation and outline general categories for evaluation of advocacy campaigns. After reviewing several models presented in the literature, seven broad categories for evaluating the impact of advocacy work are identified:

  1. Policy change (effectiveness in reaching and implementing desired policy change)
  2. Capacity of civil society organizations
  3. Democratic space
  4. Policy impact
  5. Empowerment
  6. Social norms
  7. Base of support.

The Advocacy Evaluation Guide takes a comprehensive look at evaluating an advocacy campaign. The Guide begins with a discussion of advocacy evaluation basics, such as why evaluation of a campaign is important, the different types of evaluations and general evaluation questions. Evaluation can be divided into process (planning, leadership and implementation), outcome and impact indicators.  Although there are seven broad impact categories, any given evaluation need only look at 2 or 3 of these, depending on the maturity of the organization and the status of the campaign. Impact categories include: policy change, capacity of civil society, democratic space, policy impact, empowerment, base of support and social norms. The Guide includes a number of tools to assist organizations with campaign evaluation. 

While the above resource takes a comprehensive look at evaluating advocacy, the following item focuses on evaluating a few areas:

CAFOD’s Voice and Accountability Tool can be used by coalitions to rate their capacity to conduct advocacy and review and improve their performance. The tool focuses on four key areas of advocacy capacity:

  • Involvement in government processes
  • Advocacy strategy development
  • Community & constituency building
  • Involvement in corporate structures (private sector)

Capacity in each area can be assessed according to five different levels. For example, at Level 1 of ‘Involvement in government processes’ civil society may just be establishing policy positions and entering into conversation with government. Level 2 is reached when civil society organizations participate in a consultation process. Level 3 sees the establishment of formal consultation structures and there is evidence that civil society is influencing the policy process. In Level 4 this situation is consolidated and civil society organizations sees evidence that government acts on their demands. At Level 5 the changes recommended by civil society are resulting in real benefits. The tool is helpful because it summarizes the categories into a concise two-page format.

Documenting the effects of advocacy work is notoriously difficult. Progressio has developed two useful tools to accomplish this:

The Portfolio of Evidence is used to support claims made that an advocacy objective has been achieved. The portfolio reviews various pieces of evidence from within the organization (emails, research, manuals) and without the organization (quotes from speeches, publications, letters, laws, budget appropriations, media reports) in the light of a specific advocacy change objective. Not all information needs to be kept in the portfolio – only the pertinent facts. Each item can be described in one sentence and a short summary report of achievements, challenges, etc. prepared. The portfolio of evidence is included alongside monitoring reports as a verification tool. Progressio's Regular Impact and Capacity Assessment (RICA) indicators include greater level of transparency, accountability and responsiveness by decision-making bodies as well as improved level of representation of people.

Progressio’s Advocacy Monitoring Report presents a format for collecting and verifying data on the organization’s advocacy activities to enable managers to clearly and easily collate information on impact. The format requires Advocacy and Policy Officers to state the original policy change objective, achievements made towards reaching that objective and how it is possible to know the change has happened. The format also requests information on the evidence base (including any research or theological works completed), relationships built with decision makers, campaign activities, media coverage, and any unanticipated changes.

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