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advocacy evaluation


This action research project seeks to support progressive social change organisations to evaluate the impacts and outcomes of their efforts. By comparison to other sectors and types of organisation, NGOs working toward social and environmental justice commit fewer resources to evaluating their programs and campaigns. Research undertaken by Change Agency associates suggests that many progressive NGOs infrequently apply evaluation frameworks. The reasons for this include lack of time, limited access to appropriate tools and frameworks and the highly ambiguous and irrational nature of the policymaking process. In recent times a small but growing number of organisations, especially philanthropic bodies that fund advocacy work, have begun to explore frameworks for evaluating advocacy.


Collect and synthesise resources and literature on campaign evaluation including case studies
Identify evaluation frameworks that are simple, powerful and road-tested
Develop a suite of resources for participatory workshops that support activists to evaluate their own campaigns
Trial and revise resources
Identify opportunities for ongoing action research

project updates

Project update November 2007: evaluating advocacy campaigns - What is the link between our advocacy activities and policy outcomes? Is it possible to establish a causal relationship between a vote in Parliament and campaign tactics? In mid-2007, two of the Change Agency team initiated the advocacy evaluation project to:
project update August 2008: evaluating advocacy campaigns - Our advocacy evaluation action research project has been powering along this month. In the longer term, we plan to develop, adapt and share a range of resources to use in community campaigns. Campaign evaluation can turbo-charge how and how much we learn. It's a wise investment of time and energy... not just at the end of a campaign, but at the beginning and at along the way.

During July, Justin completed a review of literature on advocacy evaluation which has been shared internationally and will soon be published as a Comm-org working paper. You can download it from our articles and papers page.

And we helped develop an evaluation framework for Climate Camp. The online questionnaire was completed by 90 activists who'd taken part in the week-long protest camp. The evaluation showed up some important outcomes including a strong match between hoped-for and actual outcomes, a significant increase in the likelihood that participants will participate in direct action as a result of their experiences in Newcastle and very strong support for another national climate change convergence.

During coming months we'll be trialing a range of evaluation tools with campaigning organisations. If your organisation is developing and applying evaluation tools in your campaigns, we'd love to hear from you.

online evaluation resources

Theory of change and logic models: Learning for Sustainability.net - Theories of change "challenge designers of complex community-based initiatives to be specific about the theories of change guiding their work and suggested that doing so would improve their overall evaluation plans and would strengthen their ability to claim credit for outcomes that were predicted in their theory"
advocacy logic model tool - Developed by Continuous Progress to make the composite logic model more accessible to campaigners. This model allows advocates to select elements from each of the HFRP categories and automatically generates an evaluation framework. The Continuous Progress website is an Aladdin’s cave of resources for evaluating social change campaigns.
theory of change - A theory of change is an innovative tool to design and evaluate social change initiatives. By creating a blueprint of the building blocks required to achieve a social change initiative’s long-term goal, such as improving a neighborhood’s literacy levels or academic achievement, a Theory of Change offers a clear roadmap to achieve your results identifying the preconditions, pathways and interventions necessary for an initiative’s success.
The Evaluation Exchange - Describes new developments in evaluating advocacy and policy change efforts that attempt to inform or influence public policy. Published by the Harvard Family Research Project team.
Innovation Network - publish the excellent quarterly Advocacy Evaluation Update
Advocacy Institute - Telling Your Story – A Guide to Preparing Advocacy Case Studies
evaluation and learning in the climate movement - Ben Courtice's 'biopsy' of the the June 13 climate emergency rally in Melbourne offers some useful insights and a guide for ongoing campaign evaluation. Ben examines the effectiveness of the alliance that coordinated the mobilisation, the tactics employed on the day, and media and political outcomes. He also discusses how the organising leading up to June 13 and results on the day position the movement for the protests and actions planned between now and the Copenhagen conference in December, and during 2010.
sustainability initiative evaluation toolbox - The toolbox aims to provide a one-stop-site for the evaluation of community sustainability engagement projects that aim to change household behaviours.
The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy - The political process is chaotic and often takes years to unfold, making it difficult to use traditional measures to evaluate the effectiveness of advocacy organizations. There are, however, unconventional methods one can use to evaluate advocacy organizations and make strategic investments in that arena.