A toolkit to develop advocacy strategies to strengthen an enabling environment for evaluation
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What is this toolkit about?
The toolkit contains guidance and tools on how to plan, design, implement, monitor and evaluate advocacy strategies to promote national evaluation policies and systems that are equity-focused and gender-responsive. This toolkit will help users understand the role of advocacy in increasing demand for evaluation, and develop operational strategies to promote demand for evaluation services.
Why is this toolkit important?
While technical evaluation capacities (the so-called supply side) are paramount to produce high-quality evaluative evidence, an enabling environment for evaluation is necessary to ensure it is actually used for decision-making. In many instances, the demand and use of evaluation to inform policy-making is not as strong as it should be, because potential evaluation clients (e.g. policy makers and the public) do not understand how evaluation can improve policy-making. In these cases, an advocacy strategy to strengthen an enabling environment for evaluation is necessary.
The toolkit will be useful for civil society organizations (CSOs), Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPEs) as well as governments, parliaments, academia, evaluation units from development cooperation agencies and other development partners who want to advocate to increase demand for evaluation in order to build an enabling environment for evaluation. It will equally be useful for other stakeholders, such as students, journalists and managers who want to expand their understanding of a structured approach to sustained and effective advocacy to promote a culture of evaluation.
How can this toolkit be used?
The toolkit appears rather detailed at first sight as it is designed to be stakeholders with varying levels of experience, capacities and skills in strategic advocacy. For this reason the toolkit does not provide fixed standard prescriptions on how to do advocacy; rather it consists of a vast selection of tools, tips and guidance that can be woven to create an advocacy strategy that responds to specific contexts, needs and visions.
Readers who are beginning their journey on strategic evaluation advocacy may find it useful to go through the guidance and tools in detail in the sequence presented. In practice, some VOPEs may want to work through most of the advocacy stages systematically. Others may decide to work through one advocacy stage at a time over several months, or select advocacy stages according to their specific needs. Those with advanced advocacy capacities might find value in specific tips and guidance that can spark additional ideas to make their on-going advocacy more effective.
This toolkit is envisaged as a ‘living document’, which will evolve in relation to the experiences, factors and contexts of the CSOs, VOPEs, governments and other stakeholders.
This section makes a case for investing in evaluations and for strengthening national evaluation capacities. It outlines the systems approach for National Evaluation Capacity Development, highlighting the importance of strengthening both demand and supply capacities for evaluation at three levels: enabling environment, institutional capacities and individual capacities.
It provides an introduction to the increasing role of CSOs, VOPEs, governments, parliamentarians, and other partners in advocating for equity-focused and gender-responsive national evaluation policies and systems. Finally, it defines advocacy and explains how it can be strategically exercised to build an enabling environment for evaluation.
Sound and careful advocacy planning makes CSOs and VOPEs effective, but should not limit their ability to seize critical advocacy opportunities as they arise, at times unplanned, in the advocacy environment. See more on why plan for advocacy here.
This section provides specific guidance and tools to create an advocacy strategy to influence national evaluation policies, strategies and systems. The tools and guidance are illustrated using VOPEs, governments and other stakeholders’ experiences. The toolkit uses the ‘Nine-Questions Model’ to reflect a number of well-established stages in advocacy planning. More information on this model is available here.
Nine questions for strategic advocacy planning
Answering the question entails:
1: What do we want? (Goals)
Analyze the situation, generate evidence for advocacy and choose context specific advocacy priorities to determine advocacy goals.
If an advocacy campaign is to achieve anything significant, the question “what do we want?” often turns out to be the single most important and time-consuming to answer of the Nine Questions.
2: Who can give it to us? (Audiences)
Analyze stakeholders and power to identify key targets for advocacy. A political and policy analysis helps to identify entry points for advocacy with the target audiences.
Taking a strategic view of advocacy means thinking ahead about what needs to be changed, and how to exert influence on those with power to make the change. To do this you need to know how decisions about policy are made, and who has power over those decisions. You need to identify opportunities for influencing the policy decisions; exert influence as effectively as possible; and make sure that the changes are implemented and enforced.1
1Adapted from Gosling L., Cohen D. (2007). Participant’s Manual: Advocacy Matters – Helping children change their world, International Save the Children Alliance.
3: What do they need to hear? (Messages)
Develop evidence-based messages crafted for each specific target audience.
What motivates the target audience? Much of this analysis has been already conducted in the previous questions – “What do we want?” and “Who can make it happen?” A careful analysis of what motivates and moves the target audiences allows the advocate to be aware of the best ways of influencing them, and where possible, to illustrate potential alignment between what motivates and moves the target and the advocacy goals.
4: Who do they need to hear it from? (Messengers)
Determine the most strategic choice for an advocacy messenger based on the context.
The messenger is often as important (or sometimes more important) than the message itself. The same message has a very different impact depending on who communicates it.
5: How do we get them to hear it? (Delivery)
Identify opportunities in the decision-making process to make sure the message reaches the audience. This involves choosing the best medium for message delivery and working with the media to get the message across. The message is also delivered in person through lobbying. It often requires negotiation.
There are many ways to deliver an advocacy message. These range from the one-to-one communication (e.g. lobbying) to in-your-face (e.g. direct action). The most effective means varies from situation to situation. The key is to evaluate them and apply them appropriately, weaving them together in a winning mix.1
1Advocacy Institute, Washington D.C. 2002.
6: What have we got? (Resources; strengths)
7: What do we need to develop? (Challenges; gaps)
Take a careful stock of the advocacy resources that are already there, that can be built upon to overcome challenges. This requires assessing the external and internal advocacy environment.
An effective advocacy effort takes careful stock of the advocacy resources that are already there to be built on. This includes past advocacy work that is related, alliances already in place, staff and other people's capacity, information and political intelligence. In short, you do not start from scratch; you start from building on what you have got. After taking stock of the advocacy resources you have, the next step is to identify the advocacy resources you need that are not there yet. This means looking at alliances that need to be built, and capacities such as outreach, media, and research, which are crucial to any effort.1
1Advocacy Institute. (2002). Washington DC
8: How do we begin? (First steps)
Develop advocacy goals, interim outcomes and activities, which help to move from advocacy planning to action.
What would be an effective way to begin to move the strategy forward? What are some potential short term goals or projects that would bring the right people together, symbolize the larger work ahead and create something achievable that lays the groundwork for the next step?1
1Advocacy Institute. (2002). Washington DC.
9: How will we know it's working, or not working? (M&E)
Incorporate and implement a robust M&E plan within the advocacy strategy.
As with any long journey, the course needs to be checked along the way. Strategy needs to be evaluated by revisiting each of the questions above (i.e., are we aiming at the right audiences; are we reaching them, etc.) It is important to be able to make mid-course corrections and to discard those elements of a strategy that don't work once they are actually put into practice.1
Read more about Monitoring and Evaluating Advocacy in Section 3.
1Advocacy Institute. (2002). Washington DC.
This section presents tools for planning the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of an advocacy strategy that aims to build an enabling environment for evaluation. It examines common challenges that may be encountered by CSOs, VOPEs and stakeholders during monitoring and evaluating advocacy efforts.
The section makes the case for including equity and gender perspective in evaluation. It further highlights how challenges related to promotion and implementation of equity and gender responsive evaluations could be overcome by advocating for national evaluation policies and systems that is equity-focused and gender-responsive.
This section highlights the value added of developing and maintaining partnerships in advocacy to increase the use of evaluation and evidence in policy-making. It outlines key requirements for a successful partnerships; ways to establish networks and manage conflicts in partnerships for advocacy.
This section highlights the critical role parliamentarians play in increasing the demand for evaluation. It encourages CSOs and VOPEs to consider engagement with parliamentarians as a long-term process that is built into evaluation advocacy strategies.
This section outlines the benefits of a strong knowledge- base for effective advocacy and ways in which it can be secured. It highlights the value of developing a knowledge management strategy that is linked to and supports a broader evaluation advocacy strategy. It highlights the importance of online knowledge management systems to address gaps in evaluation and advocacy capacities, to disseminate lessons learned and build stronger networks.
This section highlights risk assessment and management as an important requisite of strategic advocacy planning and analysis. In-depth understanding of the political and policy environment help to understand the risks in advocacy and how to overcome them. It further makes a case for strong leadership, communication and collaboration that helps to arrive at balanced judgments around risks in advocacy.
This section provides guidance on budgeting and fundraising for advocacy. It highlights the importance of seeking resources for advocacy from the outset. Fundraising for advocacy can itself form a part of the evaluation advocacy agenda.
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