From evaluating global campaigns and advocacy projects we naturally learn a lot about the challenges and obstacles faced at this level.
I recently carried out an evaluation for Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on their programme-based advocacy initiative on housing, land, and property (HLP) – the evaluation report is available online (pdf).
This was a very interesting project as it both aimed to bring about policy change at the local (national) and global levels to strengthen the HLP rights of displaced persons, some of the key learnings for global campaigns and advocacy that I’d highlight were as follows:
– the positive results seen in combining country and global level advocacy with country-level cases providing substantive evidence for the global advocacy;
– the importance of achieving change within the organisations carrying out the advocacy, particularly when they are carrying programmes in the given sector (in this case, assistance and support for displaced persons);
– the balance between going alone on or building broader alliances for advocacy initiatives;
– the need to follow up advocacy initiatives and treat advocacy not as “one-off” events or activities but as activities that will need to be monitored and supported until the given objectives are met.
From the SurveyMonkey blog, a useful article on increasing survey completion rates.
Based on an analysis from 25,000 surveys, some of their conclusions state the obvious (i.e. the longer the survey the lower the response rate….) but here are five tips from the article I found useful:
- Starting a survey with an open-ended questions reduces completion rates
- Starting a survey with a simple easy-to-answer closed question will facilitate completion rates
- Placing open-ended questions towards the end of the survey is better than at the start of the survey
- A matrix or rating style questions doesn’t reduce completion rates – but too many of them do
- Each additional word in a question text has a direct negative effect on completion rates
As part of the 2015 International Year of Evaluation, the Swiss Evaluation Society (SEVAL), is organising its annual conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference will be preceded by a pre-conference event organised by the Geneva Evaluation Network. These events will be a unique occasion to meet with evaluation specialists from around the world and discuss about challenges regarding evaluation capacity development, independence and other topics.
I hope to see some of the Swiss-based evaluators there!
The US-based Media Impact Funders have produced a ten point list on elements of success for policy change (what I’ve labeled “advocacy”), as reproduced below in this post.
Although it is looking from a US perspective of influence on policy through advocacy, what struck me was that many of the points are relevant to advocacy done globally or in other countries/regions. For example:
Point 1: Solutions – when evaluating advocacy initiatives and talking with policy-makers, a common complaint I have heard is that advocacy is not “solution focused”, i.e. it makes valid points about the given issues (that often policy-makers are also aware of) but don’t necessarily put forward possible solutions to these issues.
Point 3: Agility – the ability to be flexible is so important – to take advantage of opportunities that arise, that were not necessarily included in the original advocacy plan. That I saw recently in an evaluation I carried out for Oxfam on global development policy – where they had enough flexibility to move resources as the issues peaked and new opportunities emerged.
Point 5: Humanity – often advocacy focuses on the “facts” but what can also make an impact is the “human factor”. One effective example of this was in the creation of the Arms Trade Treaty where state representatives drafting the treaty were directly confronted by survivors of armed violence; certainly bringing a human face to the dry legalistic treaty process and language.
p.s. I came out as a Constructivist Evaluator…
A new publication has been released by Donor Committee for Enterprise Development providing practical advice for selecting sample sizes (pdf). The publication is particularly useful for considering sampling issues for online surveys and provides a lot of good advice and tips.