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Global Interdependence Initiative
CONTINUOUS PROGRESS Better Advocacy Through Evaluation
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“In all my time as a grantee, and with all the grant money I have received, I've never had a conversation with a funder about my evaluation report. Never. Ever”

— Anonymous Advocate


Summative results and lessons learned from a specific campaign are instrumental in building advocacy capacity. The Coordination Team of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign commissioned an impact evaluation of the 2005 campaign's efforts. The evaluation sought to answer: What progress did the Coalition make against its objectives during 2005? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the coalition's approach and structure? What lessons can be learned for the future? Read more ».

Bringing It All Together in the End

We have emphasized the value of continuous evaluation—a key to continuous progress. But a more traditional summative evaluation—the process of aggregating final results and findings— at the conclusion of an advocacy grant has its own unique value. Most organizations will find summative evaluation to be simple: much of the leg work has already been completed. Summative evaluation can be another opportunity to learn what works and what doesn't. It can help enhance your grantmaking and build capacity in the field. nd most importantly, it can be shared.

Summative evaluations can be shared in a variety of shapes and sizes, including: items for your Web site like podcasts of interviews with constituents, policymakers and others; scholarly and trade articles; publications; reports to other grantmakers at workshops or conferences; speaking opportunities. Your advocacy grant should include the resources needed to compile all of the findings at the end, as well as resources to share them. But in some instances you may want to work with your grantee to jointly develop a strategy to share the results more broadly. This could be a workshop that you hold, using your leverage to bring together a range of grantees. Or you might fund the evaluator involved in the process to travel to a prominent conference to share lessons learned from the evaluation with a larger audience.

Whether you opt for a workshop, printed publication or other medium, summative evaluations should include five primary components:

  1. Progress toward policy goal: With the ultimate goal in mind, the grantee should be able to assess whether or not the goal was achieved. If it was, the summative evaluation will detail how this occurred. If it was not, the summative evaluation will establish the progress that has been made to date toward achieving the goal.
  2. Results: This is the opportunity most organizations have been waiting for: the chance to summarize all of the results. This section will include all of the advocacy outputs, such as: the number of e-mails sent to legislators, the number of bills introduced on the issue, and the number of action kits that were downloaded from the Web site on the issue. Through the process of continuous, formative evaluation, your grantee should have also learned the value of performing more sophisticated analysis of what these numbers indicate, and be able to also speak about outcomes. For example: the percentage of those who downloaded the kits subsequently took action on the issue of girls' education.
  3. Successes and causes: If your grantee has been continuously evaluating and improving its advocacy efforts, he or she should have some successes to share. For this section, the grantee should present its theory of change, benchmarks, indicators, victories and defeats. This section will examine both advocacy progress and capacity-building progress. To make this section useful to a broader audience, it will detail what led to each of the successes. Whether it be luck or a carefully calibrated media placement, learning from the causes of success is important for future investments in policy advocacy.
  4. Lessons learned: Acknowledging that not everything will have gone exactly as planned, this section is an opportunity to document some of the lessons learned throughout the advocacy efforts. This section will help future grantees understand which assumptions are realistic.
  5. Recommendations: Based on the advocacy experience, the grantee should be able to identify key recommendations for future grantmakers and advocates. Ask them to think about what has been learned from the advocacy experience that could be used as a general rule of thumb in the future. Consider any policy advocacy myths that you could possibly dispel as a result of this investment.

As a grantmaker, you will want to learn from the summative evaluation process and help others learn as well. Encourage the grantee to share as much information as possible during this process. Remember: the purpose of evaluation is to promote continuous progress: more and more capacity to advocate effectively.


  • Evaluation is a learning experience; the more your grantee can share with others, the stronger the policy advocacy around your issues will become.
  • Wrapping it all up at the end should not be restricted to receiving a final report from the grantee; work with the grantee to pursue other avenues to disseminate the evaluation findings to other interested parties. While all outcomes won't necessarily be positive, sharing the lessons you and your grantees have learned will enhance the ability of your entire community to conduct advocacy in the future.