Measuring change in advocacy

Hestbaek, C. (2014). Closing in on Change – Measuring the Effectiveness of your Campaign. New Philanthropy Capital (NPC),, accessed Sept 2014.

The biggest changes in our society often start through a campaign. Organisations that focus on advocacy can act as the catalyst for fundamental shifts in the law and how we treat other people (or animals, or the environment). For this type of work, success can often be perceived as “all or nothing”– either we have made a change or we haven’t. A recent publication from Cecilie Hestbaek, a researcher specialising in the mental health sector and charity campaigning from New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), Closing in on Change – Measuring the Effectiveness of your Campaign provides some thoughtful guidance for organisations measuring the outcomes of their campaigns.

Hestbaek discusses the reasons for good measurement and evaluation for organisations running campaigns and the challenges they face. The benefits described include the chance to learn on the job, being accountable to stakeholders and being appealing to funders. These equally apply to other social purpose organisations

Organisations running campaigns face a number of challenges in measuring their outcomes. The most notable is the time frame in which decisions need to be made to correct a course of action. The curly question of a campaigns’ contribution is also worthwhile mentioning because often a shift in public sentiment is required, and that can only happen through multiple (and varied sources).

Hestbaek recommends that organisations follow NPC’s four pillar approach: map your theory of change, prioritise what you measure, choose your level of evidence and select your sources and tools. This is no different to any other organisation wanting to measure and evaluate their success. Regardless of the challenges organisations face to measure and evaluate the success of a campaign or a service, taking a practical staged approach is a useful way of making this happen. Take small steps in your measurement and evaluation journey, and learn along the way.

Simon Faivel
Director, SVA Consulting
Chair, Social Impact Measurement Network of Australia (SIMNA)

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