Monitoring and Evaluating Advocacy Programmes

Submitted by Louisa Gosling on October 15, 2003 - 12:00am.

Advocacy is an increasingly important strategy in development, but how do you prove its impact, and ensure appropriate lessons are learned? 

Advocacy is an essential component of rights-based programming, focusing on building constituencies around different issues, and working to change the broader context in which an agency works.

As with any other development activity, good planning, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment are essential for good management of advocacy, for accountability, and to make sure lessons are learned to improve practice in the short and long term.

It is essential to define what you are trying to achieve and how you will know whether or not you are succeeding. The findings from monitoring and evaluation can also be used for further advocacy purposes.

A 'Model of Change'

Advocacy can work at different levels and use different approaches simultaneously. There are two broad categories:

  • Attempting to influence policy directly
  • Developing the capacity of others for advocacy

A 'model of change' can help to clarify how you expect the advocacy process to bring about change in people's lives.

For example, the process of advocacy can be seen as an impact chain:

build awareness  >  change policy  >  impact on people's lives

There are a number of frameworks available that you can use and adapt to clarify the advocacy process in terms of intermediate and long-term objectives, and how you will know if you are getting there.

What to Monitor and Evaluate?

It is important to assess both the process and impact. Both are essential to allow us to modify and adapt our advocacy strategy during implementation.

Process monitoring of advocacy activities is needed in order to judge:

  • are the techniques working?
  • are people being reached and is the message understood by targets? are the most appropriate targets and channels being used?
  • are you involving and collaborating with the relevant people, organisations and bodies?

Impact monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment are needed to know:

  • are the objectives likely to be achieved, ie, will there be/have there been changes on the ground?
  • what more needs to be done to sustain changes?
  • what unintended impacts - positive and negative - have occurred?
  • have promises of policy changes really been implemented (or are they still only rhetoric)?
  • what can be learnt for future advocacy activities?

Constant impact monitoring enables you to look for evidence of change as you go, to assess progress in bringing about the change, and to test whether your assumptions about the process of change are correct.

Who Defines Success?

Different stakeholders will have different views on what success is, depending on where they are within the impact chain. To get an overview of how successful you were, you need to solicit the views of a range of stakeholders: for example, ultimate beneficiaries, local people and their organisations, staff involved, advocacy targets, journalists and outsiders.

Not all stakeholders have the same interest in telling you how effective the campaign is. Some may deliberately misinform. For example, companies may flatter campaigners to discourage them from continuing a campaign. There may also be a danger of campaigners exaggerating their success. It is therefore vital to ensure a rigorous analysis takes place, and that evidence is properly triangulated. This makes advocacy impact assessment more credible, even though based on a subjective approach.

Methods for Monitoring and Evaluating Advocacy

A variety of methods can be used. For example:

  • Surveys can provide an overview of what was achieved. Anonymous surveys can be useful where an organisation cannot be open about why change is happening.
  • Interviews.
  • PLA techniques such as ranking are useful for assessing the success of developing advocacy capacity among grassroots activities.
  • Video can be an effective way of conveying emotion in evaluations, without which spirited campaigns turn into dry reports.
  • Case studies that draw on a range of techniques and that are cross-referenced to avoid bias are a helpful way to provide useful lessons and to present complex material. These can be done for specific projects or institutions or groups of beneficiaries.

Where emphasis is on development of civil society and ability to hold decision makers accountable, methods for monitoring, review and evaluation need to:

  • be culturally appropriate
  • encourage participation by children and young people
  • be gender sensitive
  • be developed in consultation with southern-based organisations
  • emphasise values that organisations consider important in their work.

Methodologies need to reinforce transparent and co-operative ways of working, and strengthen the role of external agencies in helping to create space for marginal groups to have a voice. It is important to use a range of methods to get the information you need, and to cross-check the information. The methods also need to be suited to the nature of the advocacy work and provide information that is timely and useful.

Assessing the Impact of Advocacy

The impact of advocacy can be measured in a number of ways, including budget monitoring to analyse the implementation of policy change. This provides a quantitative approach, recognising that policy change is not always implemented.

Although it would be useful, in many cases relevant baseline data is not available to help assess impact. There is often more emphasis on the systematic recording of evidence that comes up in the course of the work.


This article is excerpted from "Toolkits: a practical guide to planning, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment" published by Save the Children (2003).  Further details online at Purchasing information from


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