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What is monitoring and evaluation?

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Monitoring and evaluation are distinct, but partly overlapping activities which serve similar purposes – to ensure the campaign is run as effectively as possible, and to learn from experience. Both are essential elements of effective campaign management. They assess progress towards the campaign goal and objectives, as well as the factors that condition such progress.

Monitoring is the process of tracking campaign implementation, progress towards campaign goals and objectives, and external factors relevant to the campaign, such as new opportunities and risks. Evaluation brings together monitoring data, and findings from additional research to assess the effectiveness, or likely effectiveness (in formative evaluation), of a campaign and its different elements. While monitoring is an on-going process accompanying all campaign activities, evaluations are more time-bound and specific interventions, usually carried out at the end or at particular moments (e.g. mid-term) during campaigns. When and how monitoring activities and evaluations take place, should be decided in the campaign planning phase.

Ideally, campaigners and experienced social and communication researchers should work together when planning monitoring and evaluation activities. A balance must be sought between scientific rigor, and the campaigners’ practical needs and possibilities. Even small-scale campaigns with limited resources can apply monitoring and evaluation tools that enhance campaign effectiveness. In addition, apart from yielding vital insights on issues that determine the success or failure of the campaign, monitoring and evaluation can strengthen communication between the stakeholders of the campaign by exposing them to each other’s perspectives.

Practical tip: As a rule, at least 10 per cent of the overall campaign budget should be set aside for monitoring, evaluation and learning activities (M&E). For complex, rigorous impact evaluations, the percentage for evaluation can reach up to 30% of the overall budget. A specific M&E steering group or coordinator within the campaign team should be established so as to ensure M&E receives sufficient attention.

Challenges in monitoring and evaluating campaigns on VAW are often related to complexity, as many factors contribute to the occurrence of violence against women and girls. It can be difficult to identify direct cause-to-effect relations between campaign activities and change in individuals’ behaviour, or to determine whether changes in institutions and society have been prompted by the campaign or by other, external factors. Another challenge is how to measure certain types of change. For example, attitudes to sensitive issues such as VAW may not be assessed reliably through questionnaire-based surveys, as respondents tend to give answers they consider socially desirable, rather than to reveal their true thoughts.

Every campaign to end VAW generates opportunities for learning, not only for the implementing team but also for future campaigns. Unfortunately, relatively few campaigns to end VAW have been systematically monitored and evaluated, which accounts for the dearth of reliable data.