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Global Interdependence Initiative
CONTINUOUS PROGRESS Better Advocacy Through Evaluation
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“The path to victory is never straight so you have to identify and celebrate intermediate success. We need to win a lot of small prizes along the way, to keep staff motivated, to show that we're actually making a difference."
— Ray Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America


Launched in November 2003, The Better Safer World campaign sought to engage Americans on ways to address global poverty and instability. Through a three-month multichannel outreach campaign targeting the state of Iowa, it registered an increase in the public's awareness and concern about global issues. Read more »

Tracking Victories and Defeats

During your advocacy activities, the evaluation process will be feeding information back to your advocacy team for constant improvement and tweaking. Use all of this information to make sure you are hitting your benchmarks.

Using the indicators embedded in your evaluation plan and theory of change helps you stay on course to meet benchmarks and achieve long-term policy change. Documenting your journey will help you learn from your performance and communicate best practices to grant makers and other advocacy campaigns traveling down a similar path.

Keep in mind that evaluation is about constant improvement—and Continuous Progress. Tracking victories and defeats will enlighten this emerging advocacy field and build capacity. Keep track of what benchmarks you achieve or do not achieve, then record how and why. When examining a benchmark, be sure to consider:

  • Adjustments you made to your theory of change;
  • External phenomena beyond your control which influenced the situation;
  • The role of luck;
  • The indicators that guided you along the way.

From this process, you can begin to organize your best practices and lessons learned. You can chart the black holes of advocacy on your particular issue that others should avoid. You can use these finding for grant reports, advocacy publications, and, perhaps most importantly, to keep your constituents in the loop. As your number one stakeholders, your constituents should be among the first to hear about advocacy progress.

Remember, all policy advocates are learning as they go—there is no silver bullet. But there are best practices that you can develop along the way to make your campaign stronger.


  • Tracking victories and defeats shouldn't feel like useless paperwork; think of ways to make the results of your advocacy efforts useful to various groups of stakeholders.
  • Luck and external forces beyond your control play a key role in making policy advocacy successful. Don't underplay their importance; rather, incorporate them fairly with the factors within your control to paint an accurate picture of your work.
  • Tracking victories and defeats early on in your advocacy activities will help you to develop best practices to apply later.