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Global Interdependence Initiative
CONTINUOUS PROGRESS Better Advocacy Through Evaluation
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"...When we started out, we didn't think of having a dialog with governments because we weren't sure enough about what we were doing to be able to go and say -- look, put more money into vaccines, put more money into AIDS. And it was 4 or 5 years into it that we began to say wow -- even our resources are small enough that we're going to have to have advocacy. And so that's a new capabilty that we're getting better at."

— Bill Gates,
Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, on Charlie Rose

EXAMPLES

In this policy overview produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Centre, the authors propose that greater public awareness and concern about development issues could put issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on domestic political agendas and thereby protect official development assistance (ODA) commitments. Creating that awareness will mean engaging people in a deeper debate about development, and thus building a "real" constituency. Read more »

Why and How to Invest in Advocacy

What brought you here? Many reasons drive grantmakers to decide it is time to invest in policy advocacy. Advocacy investments can give your current programs more leverage and more impact over time by creating a policy environment supportive of your values and ideas. Some strategies that you could pursue through your advocacy investments could also increase your institution's visibility and complement your public relations work: they include educating and informing policy makers, building a domestic constituency of Americans who are informed and engaged on these issues, and positively influencing media coverage on the issues, among others.

What does advocacy grantmaking look like?
Your advocacy grantmaking strategy can vary greatly, depending on your institutional culture and history, board composition, vision, mission and strategies. Some grantmakers will be comfortable taking a leadership role and proactively defining their own advocacy agenda, especially if they are seeking specific policy outcomes. They could be quite engaged and assertive when discussing goals with their potential grantees. Others will most likely react to policy opportunities and shape their advocacy grantmaking ''on the fly.” Some grantmakers will choose to act primarily as conveners; as they have the capacity to bring to the table different viewpoints, and support building the infrastructure that brings together diverse groups of organizations. Others will be more focused on supporting policy research or public education initiatives. No matter where you place yourself in this spectrum, there is room for you.

Limits of advocacy
While there are limits to whatis permissible by law for private and public foundations, the good news is that the rules are documented (see Investing in Change: A Funder's Guide to Supporting Advocacy), and there are many advocacy opportunities that are well within the law. Inform and educate yourself about them; it will lead to more productive conversations between you andyour board, and anyone with whom you might want to share ideas, including accountants, lawyers or other compliance officers.

We know you know: advocacy is a long-term commitment
If you are going to invest in advocacy, you have to be willing to commit for the long run. Methods and approaches that you will use to evaluate your grantees' advocacy progress and results need to take that into account. Grantees will work in a complex and constantly changing policy environment. In most cases your grantee will not be the only organization working on a particular policy change: attributing which intervention “made the difference” is a real evaluation challenge. You need to be comfortable with these unique characteristics of advocacy to fully immerse yourself in it. But it is definitely worth the challenge, and evaluation is here to help.