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Evaluating the impact of your campaign

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Monitoring and evaluating your campaign as it progresses will enable you to:

  • see if you are on track
  • demonstrate your effectiveness or successes
  • be held accountable.

Building in a clear evaluation will also compel you to be more explicit about your theory of change.

What is monitoring and evaluation?

  • Monitoring is about regularly measuring and assessing what is going on during the lifetime of your campaign against your campaign objectives, learning from the findings and adapting your campaign strategy.
  • Evaluation looks back at certain points at your overall campaign to draw out learning outcomes that can be fed into your future campaign work.

Why monitor and evaluate your campaign?

Regular monitoring and evaluation can strengthen the impact of your campaigns. A powerful evidence base can be used to support your campaign to spur on supporters to further action, or demonstrate that certain policies are improving people’s lives to decision makers. It can be extremely useful in the post campaign period to keep the pressure on and monitor how any policy commitments translate into practice and whether the desired change makes a real difference to people’s lives.

Monitoring and evaluation is also crucial for supporting wider organisational learning and can influence future campaigns and strategy. It can also be used to demonstrate accountability to stakeholders, providing evidence to feedback on performance and achievements in the campaign.

When and how to evaluate your campaign

You should identify what you want to know and why you want to know it from the outset.

Think about involving your beneficiaries or users here so that people who will actually benefit from the campaign are able to inform the indicators of what success will look like and how you will know when your campaign has achieved its goal.

Keep it simple – develop a small number of indicators to capture changes. Aim to gather a mix of evidence from internal and external sources. Be clear from the outset, clarify roles and responsibilities and make time for this in campaign planning. This can be built into existing structures such as team meetings and one-to-one meetings. It is more important to measure the impact or the effects of your activities rather than the effort put in, ie number of postcards sent, events held etc.

Attributing credit or trying to prove causal links between campaign activities and social change can be complex, so instead of looking for proof of your success, aim to build evidence that could reasonably be used to make a connection.

Some key questions to ask in evaluations

  • What are we doing well and what should we continue doing?
  • What are we doing okay or badly, and what can we improve?
  • What was supposed to happen, what actually happened and why were they different?
  • In what ways has our understanding about the situation deepened or changed?

Over the medium to long term (more than six months but fewer than five years) you need to have a way of testing whether outcomes really do lead to the impact you had pictured. For example:

  • Has the change in legislation actually been used and been effective?
  • Have better school meals brought about healthy eating by the pupils and led to better health and social outcomes?
  • Did the improved planning approach lead to better buildings that people are happier with?

If you follow the theory of change you will have a very good basis for evaluating a campaign. It is possible to take each stage in the theory of change process align these with different types of evaluation methods.

NCVO’s Good Guide to Campaigning and Influencing, by Brian Lamb outlines some tools that can help you in different aspects of evaluation. In summary, these can include:

Measures

This step involves identifying specific measures (indicators or benchmarks) that, when captured and tracked over time, will signal whether the campaigning strategy elements have been successfully implemented or achieved. Different types of measures can include:

  • activity/tactic measures – commonly known as outputs, these ‘measures of effort’ count what and how much campaigning activities or tactics produce or accomplish. These just capture what was done and do little to explain how well it worked with target audiences.
  • output/outcome measures – linked to outputs and outcomes, these measures signal progress towards achieving the campaign aim. These are ‘measures of effect‘ and demonstrate changes that happen as a result of campaigning efforts.
  • impact measures – these measures demonstrate what will happen after a campaign aim is achieved. They show the effects of a campaign aim for the programmes, systems, or people that it sought to improve.

This has been adapted from Coffman’s 2009 User guide to Advocacy Planning and Evaluation and NCVOs Good Guide to Campaigning and Influencing by Brian Lamb.

NCVO’s in-depth guide Is Your Campaign Making A Difference, by Jim Coe and Ruth Mayne, offers a deep and practical look at how to conduct evaluation in your campaigning.

Terminology

The words used in campaign strategy and evaluation can be confusing. NCVO uses the following definitions in our publications and training in campaigning.

  • Problem or Issue: What is the problem or issue you are trying to address in your strategy?
  • Impact: The ultimate effect on the lives of those you seeking change for.
  • Strategies: The overall grouping of types of activities/ key strategic decisions that you judge will lead to the change you are seeking.
  • Outcomes: Significant changes that lead to the final impact.
  • Outputs: The specific results of work programmes designed to achieve your outcomes.
  • Activities/process: The work you do to achieve those outputs.
  • Inputs: The resources you deploy to be able to undertake the activities to achieve the outputs.
  • Assumptions: What are you assuming in your analysis about the world around you that could affect your strategy?
Page last edited May 08, 2017

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