The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy

Steven Teles & Mark Schmitt, The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy, STANFORD SOCIAL INNOVATION REV. (2011)

This paper focuses on advocacy as a method of shaping public policy or for social good. It talks about tools that can be used to evaluate these and other advocacy efforts. The paper argues that advocacy evaluation should be seen as a form of trained judgement rather than a method. This judgement involves a clear understanding of the politics of the issue in question, strong networks with key players and an ability to assess organizational quality. To carry out such an advocacy evaluation it is important to understand the context in which the advocates and service providers work in the real world. The author does this giving cases of past reform efforts such as the health care reform among others. It further points out that services and advocacy are different and would therefore require different methods of evaluation. The factors that make advocacy efforts effective as well those that are limiting are also addressed. Though organizations often devise methods of advocacy that can be replicated, the author argues that not all them can be applied to every other organization successfully. This is why it is important to consider the context. To conclude the author suggests that when doing advocacy evaluation the ‘proper unit of analysis is the long-term adaptability, strategic capacity and ultimately influence of organizations themselves.’

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