Evaluating advocacy campaigns: assessing policy change

Success or failure of campaigns aiming for clearly circumscribed institutional change, e.g. the adoption of a specific law on ending VAW, can be determined quite easily, by verifying whether change has taken place, and to what extent. E.g. if the campaign goal is the creation of a new law against VAW, has such a law been passed, and does it include all the provisions the campaign has advocated for? Did the campaign’s outcomes contribute directly (or indirectly) to the passing of the new law?

However, it’s important to note that answering the question of goal attainment alone does not yield sufficient lessons on the effectiveness of individual campaign activities. To gain learning for future campaigns, it is therefore important to also examine the campaign progress and outcomes more closely, using indicators, and specifying rigorously who changed what, when and where, in verifiable detail.

The effect of the campaign on its primary targets (e.g. political decision-makers) can be gauged by reviewing campaign documentation and interviewing relevant stakeholders. Tools for evaluating mass communication can be applied to those aspects of institutional change campaigns that aim to build public support for an issue, usually among secondary target audiences.


The following resources provide guidance on how to evaluate advocacy projects, and can also be applied to advocacy campaigns:

Tracking Progress in Advocacy: Why and How to Monitor and Evaluate Advocacy Projects and Programmes (O’Flynn, M., INTRAC, 2009). This paper introduces the scope of, and rationale for, engaging in advocacy work as part of development interventions. It then focuses on the issue of monitoring and evaluating these efforts - offering reasons why and when these processes should be planned and implemented, describing what is involved (including challenges and opportunities), and detailing who should be engaged in the process.

A User's Guide to Advocacy Evaluation Planning (Harvard Family Research Project, 2009). This tool takes the reader through four basic steps that generate the core elements of an advocacy evaluation plan, including what will be measured and how.

Pathfinder: A Practical Guide to Advocacy Evaluation (Innovation Network, 2009). This guide is intended as an introduction to advocacy evaluation from an evaluator's perspective. It is written to give a sense of what is involved in the process and how this kind of evaluation differs from programme evaluations. The approach is learning-focused advocacy evaluation, which is structured to result in an evaluation design that yields the type of information funders and advocates need to understand their progress.

Less is More – Thoughts on Evaluating Social Justice Advocacy (Klugman, B., 2009).