Giving Compass' Take:

• Nancy Latham, writing for GuideStar by Candid, discusses how to make substantial progress in advocacy work and what questions to ask. 

• How is advocacy work informing philanthropy?

• Here are four ways to strengthen advocacy relationships. 

If you run an advocacy campaign, you definitely have ideas about the ways it’s making progress. You can see the stumbling blocks, and you may be able to point to dramatic and obvious success. If you are documenting and reflecting on all this, you are also engaging in evaluation and learning—even if you don’t call it that!

And then there is the fundamental question of how to spend time and money: We live in the real world of resource constraints—should we be spending valuable resources on data collection and analysis when that means cutting into time and money that we could spend on our campaign?

Let’s take this last question first. The short answer is: yes! More to the point, this may be easier and more useful than you think. It is easier because you have an enormous advantage over any evaluator: you are your own best data source. To understand a campaign and its outcomes, evaluators will usually gather data by talking to the advocates—but you know your campaign inside and out, and can cut out the middle person by documenting your own tactics, strategies, and results.

But what about the inherent challenges of evaluating advocacy?

The field has made a lot of progress over the past decade in terms of thinking about how to approach advocacy evaluation. One of the most consistent pieces of advice is to focus on interim outcomes. Don’t think of success as a yes/no proposition. Focusing on interim outcomes is helpful both because the time horizon for advocacy is often very long (think here of mitigating the climate crisis), and because things may not go as planned.

Read the full article about advocacy by Nancy Latham at GuideStar by Candid.