Measuring Advocacy Effectiveness
Many not-for-profit organizations engaged in advocacy and policy work often struggle with a common challenge: how do they measure the effectiveness of their work?
Stakeholders, such as funders and members, seek assurance that grants and memberships dues are being spent effectively. Unless the organization can demonstrate that its advocacy spending is producing results, it will be hard to defend or justify member fee increases and further funding from donors. These stakeholders want to know how effectively their money is being spent, and communicating this is critical.
Advocacy work may involve undertaking many activities, however such activities may or may not result in a change in policy or desired outcomes, so the activities in themselves are not a useful measure of effectiveness. Rather it is outcomes which must be measured, and the question is how to properly identify and measure those outcomes.
During a recent client engagement we were challenged to find ways to measure advocacy effectiveness, and through our research we discovered an excellent guide addressing this topic. A Guide to Measuring Advocacy and Policy, developed by Organizational Research Services (ORS), highlights six distinct categories of outcomes:
- Shifts in social norms
- Strengthened organizational capacity
- Strengthened alliances
- Strengthened base of support
- Improved policies
- Changes in impact
Within each of these six outcome categories are listed several examples of specific measurable outcomes, along with examples of strategies that can be used to achieve these outcomes.
Evaluating advocacy and policy work can be challenging, however the outcome categories provided in this guide begin to provide a common approach to help tackle this important issue. It also provides a framework to communicate to stakeholders how their investment in advocacy is producing measurable outcomes.
Find out more about evaluation – call me and we can have a conversation. We can also talk about improving operating efficiency, reducing costs and strengthening your organization. Reach me at 613-727-1230 ext. 212 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard MacNeill, FCPA, FCMA, CMC, Dipl. T. is a partner at OTUS Group, a team of advisors to business, government and not-for-profit organizations.