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What is a baseline assessment?

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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A baseline assessment provides information on the situation the campaign aims to change. It provides a critical reference point for assessing changes and impact, as it establishes a basis for comparing the situation before and after an intervention, and for making inferences as to the effectiveness of the campaign. Baseline assessments should be conducted before the actual campaign intervention starts so as to serve as a benchmark for examining what change is triggered by the intervention. A baseline assessment is a crucial element in formative campaign research and planning, and in any monitoring and evaluation framework.

The type of data to be included in the baseline depends on the goals the campaign aims to achieve, the theory of change underlying the campaign, and the change indicators that are defined in the monitoring and evaluation framework. Baseline information should be carried out in such a way that the same type of data can be collected after the intervention, in order to compare the results and assess the extent of change, or lack thereof. A PESTEL analysis can be useful to map legal and political external factors, especially in advocacy/institutional change campaigns.

Example: If the campaign goal is to ensure that police staff throughout the country receive specialized training on work with VAW survivors, then the baseline should include an assessment of existing police rules and procedures regarding VAW cases, existing training curricula and the legal framework, and police knowledge and practice regarding these rules and procedures.

Good sources of information for baseline assessments include: Official statistics, existing survey results and quality research reports, journal and newspaper articles.. It may also be necessary to conduct one’s own baseline research on specific campaign issues or campaign methods and tools, particularly if there is limited existing data and information. In this case, baseline research could include a range of strategic planning exercises including formative situation analysis, stakeholder analysis, and resource mapping. See Campaign planning for more guidance.