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Global Interdependence Initiative
CONTINUOUS PROGRESS Better Advocacy Through Evaluation
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“Evaluation can have real formative value, not just summative. While it is important to look at results, evaluation can also help us learn how to do our work better. Since advocacy involves constant strategizing, we should position the evaluation to give real-time feedback that informs strategy decisions on an ongoing basis.”
— Julia Coffman,
Harvard Family Research Project

Share the Story: Reporting from Grantees

Evaluating policy advocacy should first and foremost help grantees achieve their goals while supporting your own grantmaking goals. Grantees can not evaluate everything; neither can they report on everything. You will do them and yourself a big service by helping grantees prioritize how to focus their evaluation reporting. How should grantees choose their reporting priorities? The central idea behind Continuous Progress is that evaluation should help grantees:

  1. Detect progress towards advocacy goals, and correct their course of action when necessary.
  2. Learn and improve in needed areas, to strengthen organizational capacity for advocacy effectiveness.

It is critical that you discuss from the start with grantees what your reporting expectations will be; the evaluation guidelines section helps you do this. These reports offer a great learning opportunity for you, your grantees and the larger advocacy community working on similar issues.

When it comes to evaluation reporting, grantmakers must promote an open learning culture. An open environment, one that encourages candid discussion, will make grantees more willing to share what they know and do not know about the results of their work. Do not let evaluation be seen as punitive. Grantees will of course be concerned about a possible grant renewal, which often leads to reporting “all good news, all the timeisIt is in your interest to encourage open disclosures of what happened, good or bad, and why. Doing so will make a unique and valuable contribution to improving the practice of policy advocacy.

Sharing grantees' story
In the Advocate Guide we encourage grantees to share evaluation lessons with their colleagues, their board, their grantmakers and with counterparts elsewhere in the advocacy community. Why share the story? It is true that advocacy work is difficult to replicate, mostly because there are so many variables and external factors that do not remain constant. Still, telling the story in a way that makes it easier to recognize key lessons learned will help others who might be facing similar challenges. You as a grantmaker can play a major role in promoting a culture of sharing lessons learned. In the Advocate Guide we provide suggestions on how to present evaluation stories that are compelling.


  • Encourage ALL grantees to share their results. The more they see that you treat evaluation as a learning opportunity, the more inclined they will be to share their successes and failures with others. Take the lead.
  • Promote the evaluation stories of your grantees in your publications, so that other grantmakers will also have access to them.