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Advocacy evaluation, also called public policy advocacy design, monitoring, and evaluation, evaluates the progress or outcomes of advocacy, such as changes in public policy.

Advocacy evaluators seek to understand the extent to which advocacy efforts have contributed to the advancement of a goal or policy. They do this in order to learn what works, what does not, and what works better in order to achieve advocacy goals and improve future efforts.

Advocacy evaluation is different from policy analysis, which generally looks at the results of the policy, or mainstream program evaluation, which assesses whether programs or direct services have been successful. Advocacy strives to influence a program or policy either directly or indirectly; therefore, the influence is being evaluated, rather than the results of that influence.


Goals of advocacy (dependent variables)Edit

In order to evaluate something, one must know the goals of the program/activity, in this case - advocacy efforts. Policy advocacy evaluation focuses on the contribution towards achieving policy, and not on the results of that policy. Policy advocacy evaluators look at these dependent variables (many of which interrelate significantly with movement in the policy cycle):

Intermediate Goal Examples:

  • Increased awareness of constituents about the need for policy (Problem Identification -> Agenda Setting)
  • Change in rate of key-words use by politicians, sometimes starting from 0 (Problem Identification -> Agenda Setting)
  • Increase in ratio of policy being implemented according to the adopted legislation (Adoption->Implementation)
  • Developed capacity of advocacy actor or network of actors to conduct advocacy efforts

Ultimate Goals

  • Policy change itself in the desired direction (of the policy cycle). This is the highest level intermediate outcome, and as an inherent best practice, is the goal of most policy advocacy efforts. Policy Advocacy works to move a policy through the policy cycle.

Typology of policy advocacyEdit

Direct Advocacy (Directly trying to influence policy makers):

  • Lobbying (also known as direct lobbying) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by government officials, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups use lobbying.

Indirect Advocacy (Indirectly influencing policymakers by getting their constituents to advocate):

  • Grassroots lobbying (also known as indirect lobbying) is a form of lobbying that focuses on raising awareness of a particular cause at the local level, with the intention of reaching the legislature and making a difference in the decision-making process. Grassroots lobbying is an approach that separates itself from direct lobbying through the act of asking the public to contact legislators and government officials concerning the issue at hand, as opposed to conveying the message to the legislators directly.
  • Activism consists of intentional efforts by citizens or citizen groups, towards policymakers, to promote or prevent social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms including, from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes.
  • Astroturfing supports political, organizational, or corporate agendas, and is designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service, or event.

Distinct challenges of advocacy evaluationEdit

  • Contribution vs. attribution: Since multiple actors campaign simultaneously for and against any given policy, it is difficult to ascertain attribution. Evaluating contributions is preferred in this case as it allows multiple actors to influence the degree of success.
  • Long term nature of advocacy: Since many advocacy goals are long term, measuring impact can be a challenge. Instead, outcomes, interim progress, and intermediary goals are the preferred measures of influence.
  • Shifting strategies: Since the context that advocates work within is ever-changing, advocates adapt their strategies, which creates a difficult environment in which to monitor progress.
  • Complexity and theories of change: logic models and theories of change for advocacy campaigns are inherently complex; for example: protests+lobbying+media campaigns -> contribution to policy change. These kinds of theories of change have so many layers, nuances, and uncontrollable factors to them that intra and inter organizational agreement is difficult, making strategic planning, and evaluation all the more challenging.

See alsoEdit

Source documentsEdit

Advocacy evaluation:

Contribution Analysis:

External linksEdit

Examples of Advocacy EvaluationEdit

Note – some of the following evaluations should be seen as forms of "Proto" Advocacy Evaluation, done prior to, or without regard for, current best practices in this field. Many simultaneously conduct policy analysis and advocacy evaluation. Most are, at the least, useful examples for anyone wishing to conduct Advocacy Evaluation.