What it is
Advocacy evaluation is the process of evaluating the progress of advocacy efforts and/or the impact (or influence) of advocacy efforts on the political process. It is an evolving area of specialization in the evaluation and philanthropy fields. Advocacy evaluation may involve many actors, including the advocates themselves (one or more groups pursuing a common goal), community members, policy makers at various levels of government, those impacted by the advocacy (e.g., children), and other involved persons or groups. Before engaging in advocacy evaluation, researchers must consider the appropriate goals and outcomes to be studied. Simply because an advocacy campaign did not result in a concrete outcome (e.g., new legislation) does not mean it was not successful. In addition, evaluators must also consider the appropriate timeline for observing any progress or outcomes. Advocacy organizations may experience bursts of progress interspersed with periods of relative stagnation. These peaks and valleys can occur over very long periods of time, and evaluators must be responsive to these conditions.
Lynn, J. (2014). Assessing and Evaluating Changes in Advocacy Fields. Center for Evaluation Innovation.
This guide describes advocacy evaluation and offers practical tools.
Reisman, J., Gienapp, A., & Stachowiak, S. (2007). A Handbook of Data Collection tools Companion to Guide to Measuring Advocacy and Impact. Annie E. Casey Foundation.
These examples are actual or modified tools used for evaluating campaigns related to social change or policy change.
Organizational capacity self-assessment tools, p. 7-11
Measuring public support tools, p. 15-19
Measuring media support tools, p.20-23
Measuring awareness and prioritization of issues, p. 2-6
Tracking policy tools, p. 24-31
Coffman J, Reed E (n.d.), Unique Methods in Advocacy Evaluation. Harvard Family Research Project, Innovation Network.
This brief describes four new methods (summarized in the matrix on the next page) that were developed to respond to advocacy’s unique measurement challenges.
Policymaker ratings, p. 5-6
Bellwether interview process, p. 3-4
David, T., Crystal Foster, C., Guthrie, K., & Louie, J. (2005). The Challenge of Assessing Policy and Advocacy Activities The California Endowment.
This "state of the field" report provides an overview of the challenges involved in assessing policy change work. Includes practical advice from grantmakers and funders on developing a theory of change, considerations for selecting and measuring benchmarks, and insights for working with grantees.
Teles, S. & Schmitt, M. (2011). The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy. Stanford Social Innovation Review.
This article explains the challenges of evaluating advocacy and defines qualities of a good evaluator.