AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Advocacy and Policy Change

Hello, we are Kat Athanasiades and Johanna Morariu from Innovation Network, an evaluation firm that works with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, especially those engaged in advocacy.

Advocacy evaluation has been a difficult field to generate shareable lessons. Many organizations and campaigns are concerned that sharing their “secrets” (information usually divulged in evaluation reports such as methods, approaches, and incremental wins) will give the “enemy” valuable information that might undermine future phases of their work. Given this dearth, we saw an opportunity to try to support more general learning. We sought to highlight this process by looking at the past ten years of The Atlantic Philanthropies’ immigration reform advocacy grantmaking in the US. We used this campaign as a case study to highlight important decision points that a broader audience of nonprofits, funders, and evaluators could apply to their own work, regardless of the issue.

Hot Tip: Get more mileage out of your evaluations! With good planning, one evaluation may result in a paper for the board, a blog post for the evaluation community, and a visualization to send out over Twitter. It’s not always feasible to do this, given budget and confidentiality constraints, but when you can, do it! You will add to the advocacy evaluation field and contribute to improved practice among advocates.

Our evaluation project resulted in a fairly traditional report, documenting the history of US federal immigration reform. The report is most likely to be used by close-in project stakeholders (Atlantic and immigration reform advocates), but to expand the relevance of strategic lessons to a broader audience, we pulled Atlantic’s key decisions out of this report and then elaborated the implications, pros, and cons, around each decision. We also developed discussion questions that evaluators can use as a facilitation guide with partners who are considering advocacy work.

Rad Resource: We’ve also created a Funder Discussion Guide to accompany the traditional report. As an example, one decision that any advocacy funder may make is whether to emphasize grassroots or grasstops funding strategies. The decision partly rests on whether the issue of interest has become politicized and what opportunities current political realities afford. Using the questions in the Guide, an evaluator can help walk an advocacy partner through a theory of change process, thinking through the context, assumptions, and needs that underlie their work.

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Lesson Learned: Share lessons! We started this post by explaining that there’s a dearth of information in the advocacy evaluation field. We invite you all to share how you have made use of evaluation projects to expand learning and use of your findings.

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The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello! We are Rhonda Schlangen (US), Julie Tumbo (Tanzania), and Ben Awinda (Tanzania), evaluation consultants specializing in advocacy and development.  In Tanzania and other countries, civil society advocates struggle with developing skills and finding support for their efforts. We’re using the dissemination phase of an evaluation of three groundbreaking Tanzanian advocacy campaigns to support advocate capacity-building. This encouraged us to rethink the usual presentation-and-distribution-of-reports approach and conceptualize dissemination as a platform on which to build learning.

Lesson learned: Take a campaign approach to dissemination. For this project, we designed the Mwanaharakati (“Activist”) Campaign to both share the evaluation results and involve civil society actors, particularly those in Tanzania, in conversations about the case studies and use of the information to advance their own advocacy work.

Hot tips:

  • Start designing the dissemination campaign plan by first asking advocates how they and their constituencies would like to receive the information. We discovered that Facebook is out, WhatsApp is in, and everyone loves cartoons.
  • Keep the conversation going! Ben poses biweekly questions related to issues highlighted in the case studies on the campaign’s social media accounts in both Kiswahili and English.

Rad Resource: Graphic novels!  We wanted to reach young people, individuals with limited literacy abilities, and people with limited patience to read long documents, so we worked with a talented cartoonist to develop comic versions of the case studies. It was important to work with a local artist who understood the political context and the cultural nuances of images and colors. He accurately and compellingly conveyed the advocacy issues and tactics.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Welcome to the Advocacy and Policy Change (APC) TIG week on AEA365!  I’m Jared Raynor, Director of Evaluation at TCC Group and co-chair of the TIG.  Our TIG is celebrating our 10-year anniversary at this fall’s AEA conference.  This week’s blog posts share some of the great insights gained regarding evaluation’s role in advocacy work around the world.

In preparation for the TIG week, I asked for some reflections from some people who were with me when the TIG formed.  Tom Kelly’s had a striking insight: “We’d always said we are not inventing any new tools of evaluation but were looking for ways that evaluation can be applied in complex, rapidly changing policy advocacy environments—although look at the new tools that have come along.”  To start the APC week, I wanted to reflect on a few of the amazing developments in our field.

Rad Resource: Over the course of the TIG’s development we’ve been asked on occasion how to share resources within the AEA community.  On each occasion, we have opted to promote existing aggregators of information.  Innovation Network’s Point K Learning Center has consistently gathered resources from the field and The Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI) has supported the development of new material. Both make the information freely available.

Rad Resource: One of the early pieces of writing on advocacy evaluation, The Challenge of Assessing Policy and Advocacy Activities, remains a great starting place.  The authors identify seven key challenges faced by foundations in advocacy evaluation, including complexity, role of external forces, timeframe, shifting strategies and milestones and attribution.  More recently, the Overseas Development Institute did a comprehensive review of Monitoring and Evaluation of Policy Influence and Advocacy that looked at trends, approaches, frameworks and methods for evaluating advocacy.  And, coming out later this year is the first book on advocacy evaluation by Annette Gardner!

Lessons Learned: In late 2015, the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program and CEI convened a small group of advocacy evaluators to review the state of the field. I want to share three things that struck me from that conversation.  First, advocacy evaluators need to become more savvy at eliciting theories of change alongside theories of action.  We are fairly adept at the latter and frequently let the former slide as too abstract.  Second, we should continue to push ourselves to incorporate counterfactual thinking into evaluations.  Third, we should constantly consider the political implications of our work—how it is positioned, whose voice is prioritized, and what bias we bring to the advocacy work.

We have come a long way and I look forward to where we as a field go next!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi! I’m Lisa Hilt, a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Advisor for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam.

We strive for policy changes that will right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. Much of our progress takes place in small steps forward, resulting from ongoing engagement with key stakeholders and multiple campaign spikes (high intensity, short-term advocacy moments focused on a particular issue).

Following these campaign spikes, teams ask:

  • Were the outcomes worth the resources we invested?
  • How can we be more effective and efficient?

We evaluators ask: How can we support teams to answer these questions with confidence when in-depth analyses are not possible or appropriate? We’ve found from our experience at Oxfam that conducting “simple” value for money analyses for campaign spikes is a useful alternative for the teams we support.

Here are a few tips and lessons based on our experience:

Hot Tips:

Plan ahead: Even simple analysis can be difficult (or impossible) to conduct without pre-planning. Decide in the planning phases of the campaign spike which indicators and investments will be tracked and how.

Break down investments by tactic: Having even a high level breakdown of spending and staff time by key tactics (see example) enables more nuanced analysis of the connections between particular investments and the intended outcomes.

Team analysis is key: In addition to using “hard” data as a source of evidence, utilize insights of team members who bring multiple perspectives and are experts in their field to assess the extent to which their interrelated efforts relate to the results. Team debriefs are an effective way to do this.

Hilt

Lessons Learned:

Present information visually: A visual presentation of investments and outcomes enhances the team’s ability to make sense of the information and generate actionable insights (see example). Indicate which tactics were intended to achieve specific objectives.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good: Slightly imperfect analysis is better than no analysis at all, and often adequate for short-term campaign spikes. Match the levels of rigor and effort to the confidence level needed to enable the team to generate reliable insights.

Trust is important: Trust and communication is fundamental to honest conversations within the team. Be cognizant of team dynamics when designing team reviews, and focus the discussion on the outcomes and tactics, not individual performance.

Focus on the future: The strategic learning and forward-looking aspects of this type of exercise are arguably the most important. While looking back at the campaign spike, focus the conversation on what the team can learn from this experience to improve future efforts.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Hello! I’m Carlisle Levine, an independent evaluator specializing in advocacy, peacebuilding and strategic evaluation. I led CARE USA’s advocacy evaluation and co-led Catholic Relief Services’ program evaluation.

A big challenge in advocacy evaluation, because of the many factors that influence policy change and the time it takes for change to come about, is drawing causal relationships between advocacy activities and policy outcomes. Contribution analysis is an approach that responds to this challenge.

John Mayne outlines a six step process for undertaking contribution analysis:

  1. An advocacy team identifies the causal relationship it wants to explore: Did a particular set of advocacy activities contribute to a targeted policy change?
  2. An evaluator helps the team describe how they believe their advocacy intervention contributed to the desired policy change and identify the assumptions underlying their story, thus, articulating their theory of change.
  3. The evaluator gathers evidence related to this theory of change.
  4. The evaluator synthesizes the contribution story, noting its strengths and weaknesses.
  5. By gathering perspectives from allied organizations, others involved in the policy change process, and ideally, policy makers themselves, the evaluator tests the advocacy team’s theory of change.
  6. Using triangulation, the evaluator develops a more robust contribution story. With a wide enough range of perspectives collected, this analysis can provide a credible indication of an advocacy intervention’s contribution to a targeted policy change.

Cool Tricks:

  • Timelines can help advocacy teams remember when activities happened and how they relate to each other.
  • Questions such as “And then what happened?” can help a team articulate how an activity contributed to short and medium-term results.
  • Questions such as “What else contributed to that change coming about?” can help a team identify other factors, beyond their activities, that also contributed to the targeted results.
  • When gathering external perspectives, interviewers may start by asking about the targeted policy change and how it came about. Later in the interview, once the interviewee has shared his/her change story, the evaluator can ask about the role of the organization or coalition being evaluated.

Lessons Learned:

  • External stakeholders are more likely to agree to an interview about an initially unnamed organization or coalition if they are familiar with the evaluator. This is especially true with policy makers.
  • Where external stakeholders do not know an evaluator, a well-connected person independent of the organization or coalition being evaluated can facilitate those introductions.
  • Stakeholders will offer distinct perspectives, based on their experience and interests. The more stakeholders one can include, the better.

Rad Resource: APC Week: Claire Hutchings and Kimberly Bowman on Advocacy Impact Evaluation, February 7, 2013.

Clipped from http://betterevaluation.org/plan/approach/contribution_analysis

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello evaluation world! We are Kat Athanasiades and Veena Pankaj from Innovation Network.

This might sound familiar: you are given hundreds of pages of grant documents to make sense of. You are left wondering, “Where do I start?”

Fig. 1: A typical expression of one of the authors in this situation.

Fig. 1: A typical expression of one of the authors in this situation.

We were recently tasked with guiding evaluation for a funder’s national advocacy campaign, and had to make sense of advocacy data contained in 110 grants. Where did we start?

Julia Coffman’s Framework for Public Policy Advocacy (the Framework; Fig. 2), a comprehensive “map” of strategies that might be used in an advocacy campaign, was the perfect tool to analyze the grant reports. It let us identify and compare advocacy strategies employed by grantees individually, as well as step back and look at strategies used across the campaign.

Rad Resource: You can learn more about the Framework in Julia Coffman’s Foundations and Public Policy Grantmaking.

Fig. 2: The Framework for Public Policy Advocacy plots advocacy strategies against possible audiences (X-axis) and different levels of engagement of those audiences (Y-axis).

Fig. 2: The Framework for Public Policy Advocacy plots advocacy strategies against possible audiences (X-axis) and different levels of engagement of those audiences (Y-axis).

So how did we actually use the Framework to help us with analysis?

1. We reviewed grant reports and determined which strategies were used by each grantee. We created a top sheet to record this information (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: A sample top sheet for one grant, with relevant advocacy strategies identified.

Fig. 3: A sample top sheet for one grant, with relevant advocacy strategies identified.We entered the data into Excel, where it would be easy to manipulate into a visual, reportable format.

2. We entered the data into Excel, where it would be easy to manipulate into a visual, reportable format.

3. We created a series of “bubble charts” (a chart option in Excel) to display the information (Figs. 4, 5).

Fig. 4: Each “bubble” above represents an advocacy strategy used by Organization X. Blue bubbles represent awareness-building strategies, red show will-building, and yellow denote action strategies.

Fig. 4: Each “bubble” above represents an advocacy strategy used by Organization X. Blue bubbles represent awareness-building strategies, red show will-building, and yellow denote action strategies.

Fig. 5: Across all the grants in this campaign, you can quickly see by the bubble size that certain strategies were prioritized: specifically, grantees used awareness-building strategies most often. These charts allowed the funder to quickly grasp the breadth and depth of the advocacy work in their campaign.

Fig. 5: Across all the grants in this campaign, you can quickly see by the bubble size that certain strategies were prioritized: specifically, grantees used awareness-building strategies most often. These charts allowed the funder to quickly grasp the breadth and depth of the advocacy work in their campaign.

Hot Tip: If you’re designing data collection, the Framework provides a systematic way to sort grantees for further analysis based on the type of advocacy work they are engaged in.

Rad Resource: Want to learn how to make bubble charts? Check out Ann Emery’s blog to get help on constructing circle charts.

We would love to hear how you use the Framework in your work! Let us know via email or in the comments below.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I’m Jewlya Lynn, CEO at Spark Policy Institute, where we combine policy work with real-time evaluations of advocacy, field building, collective impact, and systems building to achieve sustainable, meaningful change.

While advocacy evaluation as a field has developed tools and resources that are practical and appropriate for advocacy, it has done little to figure out the messy issue of evaluating actual changes in public will.

Most advocacy evaluation tools are too focused on the advocates and champions to learn about the impact on the public. Polling is one approach, but if you’re on the ground mobilizing volunteers to change the way the public is thinking about an issue, public polls are too far removed from the immediate impact of your work. So what do you evaluate?

Cool Trick: When evaluating a campaign to build public will for access to healthcare, polling results provided us with context on the issue, but didn’t help us understand the impact on the general public. Evaluating the immediate outcome of a strategy (e.g., how forum participants responded to the event) had value, but also didn’t tell us enough about the overall impact of the work on public will.

We decided to try a new approach, designing a “stakeholder fieldwork” technique that was a hybrid of polling and more traditional interviews and surveys:

  • Similar to polling, the interviews took only 15 minutes, were by phone and were unscheduled and unexpected.
  • Unlike typical polling, the participants were identified by sampling the phone numbers of the actual audience members of the various grantee activities. Participants were called by researchers with community mobilizing experience and the questions were open-ended, exploring audience experiences with the activity they had been exposed to and how they engaged in other parts of the strategy. We asked for the names and contact information of people they talked to about their experience, allowing us to call the people who represented the “ripple effect.”

The outcome? We learned about the ways that over 100 audience members benefited from multiple types of engagement and we learned about the impact of the “ripple effect” including the echo chamber that existed among audiences of the overall strategy.

Hot (Cheap) Tip: Polling companies use online software to manage the high volume outbound calling and to capture the data. Don’t have money to purchase this type of capacity? We adapted a typical online survey program into our very own polling software!

Rad Resource: The Building Public Will 5-Phase Communication Approach from The Metropolitan Group is a great resource to guide your evaluation design and give you language to help communicate your results.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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Hello! My name is Rhonda Schlangen and I’m an evaluation consultant specializing in advocacy and development.

By sharing struggles and strategies, evaluators and human rights organizations can help break down the conceptual, capacity and cultural barriers to using monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to support human rights work. In this spirit, three human rights organizations candidly profiled their efforts in a set of case studies recently published by the Center for Evaluation Innovation.

Lessons learned:

  • Logic models may be from Mars: Evaluation can be perceived as at cross-purposes to human rights efforts. The moral imperative of human rights work means that “results” may be potentially unattainable. Planning for a specific result at a point in time risks driving work toward the achievable and countable. Learning-focused evaluation can be a useful entry point, emphasizing evaluative processes like critical reflections and one-day ‘good enough’ evaluations.
  • Rewrite perceptions of evaluation orthodoxy: There’s a sense in the human rights groups reviewed for this project that credible evaluation follows narrow and rigid conventions and must produce irrefutable proof of impact. Evaluators can help recalibrate perceptions by focusing on a broader suite of appropriate approaches complex change scenarios (such as outcome mapping or harvesting).
  • Methods are secondary: Equally important, if not more critical than, the tools and methods used is the confidence and capacity of staff and managers in using them. Investing in training and support is important. Prioritizing self-directed, low-resource internal learning as an integrated part of program work also helps cultivate a culture of evaluation. (See this presentation on organizational learning for an overview of organizational learning and stay tuned for an upcoming paper from the Center for Evaluation Innovation on the topic.)

Rad Resources: Evidence of change journals: Excel workbooks populated with outcome categories, these journals are shared platforms where human rights and other campaigners can log signs of progress and change. The tool facilitates real time tracking and analysis of developments related to a human rights issue and advocacy efforts.

Intense period debriefs: Fitting into the slipstream of advocacy and campaigns, these are a systematic and simple way to review what worked, and what didn’t, after particularly intense or critical advocacy moments. The tool responds to the inclination of advocates to keep moving forward but creates space for collective reflection.

People-centered change models: A Dimensions of Change model, such this one developed by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, can serve as a shared lens for work that spans different types of human rights and different levels—from global to community.  

Get involved: Evaluators can contribute to the discussion with the human rights defenders through online forums like the one facilitated by New Tactics in Human Rights.

Clipped from http://www.evaluationinnovation.org/

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello!  My name is Anna Williams. I provide evaluation, facilitation, and learning services for social change organizations and BHAG initiatives.  (BHAGS, for those unfamiliar with this highly technical term, refers to Big Hairy Audacious Goals.)

I would like to encourage you to consider whether methods used to evaluated advocacy efforts are relevant to your work, particularly if you currently do not think that they are.

First, some context:

Five years ago, after years of conducting program evaluations for government agencies, I began evaluating a global effort created to provide specialized technical assistance to policy makers in a particular sector.  Those providing the assistance were engineers, scientists, and other technical consultants; they did not consider themselves to be “advocates.”  Yet the most viable methods and tools for evaluating their work, including mixed-method contribution analysis, outcome mapping, analysis of interim outcomes, and social network analysis, all came from – or were used for – evaluation of advocacy.

The same scenario arose when evaluating the work of an academically based institution working to inform the public and decision makers using objective, scientifically credible research.   The organization would never call its work advocacy, but the applicable methods were those used to evaluate advocacy.

This story has repeated itself several times over.

Lessons Learned: The term “advocacy” continues to have a narrow interpretation associated with campaigning, lobbying, grassroots organizing, and public opinion.  People often do not associate “advocacy” with other types of information provision or attempts to influence even though these too could fit under a broader interpretation of the word. 

Methods for evaluating advocacy are more broadly applicable than many think.  They apply to efforts with unpredictable or hard to measure outcomes, efforts where outcomes depend on some kind of influence (including promoting the scale-up of direct services), or efforts occurring in complex dynamic contexts where strategies must adapt to be successful.

Further, the methods used to evaluate advocacy are still considered by some as less credible, even though other methods, including experimental or quasi-experimental methods, are not suitable, feasible, or appropriate for advocacy efforts (broadly defined).

At the same time, the field of advocacy and policy change evaluation is still emerging.   Those of us in the trenches are developing new tools and testing methodological boundaries; we can benefit from new ideas, building capacity, and refining methods further.

For these reasons, I encourage an open mind about evaluation of advocacy and policy change.

The forthcoming posts sponsored by the Advocacy and Policy Change TIG include practical tips, tricks, and resources.  We invite you reflect on these posts, share thoughts about the relevance of methods used for evaluation of advocacy and policy change, and offer ideas on how this field can have broader resonance and reach.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating APC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Advocacy and Policy Change Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our AP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I am Brian Yoder, Director of Assessment, Evaluation and Institutional Research at the American Society for Engineering Education, a professional association located in Washington, D.C.  I also serve as President Elect for the Washington Evaluators, a local affiliate of AEA.

I’ve lived and worked in D.C. for the past seven years working as a contractor, in government and a professional society, and I believe government processes can be helped through the use and application of evaluation.  As the saying goes, there are no problems, only opportunities, and I’ve seen plenty of opportunities to improve government processes and the improved use of evaluation to assess government programs.

Lessons Learned: Traditionally, I think evaluators have tried to keep their role separate from implementation and the policy-making processes. But, based on my work in D.C., I’ve come to believe that policy makers and program implementers would be well served by evaluators being involved more closely and directly in policy making and program implementation processes. When you work in an environment where the answers to important questions were needed yesterday, and questions that need to be answered keep changing, the traditional approach to evaluation with formative evaluation leading to summative evaluation becomes too slow and irrelevant.

That’s why I helped to spearhead the Evaluators Visit Capitol Hill (EVCH) Initiative, a joint effort between the Washington Evaluators and AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force (EPTF).  EVCH is an initiative that coordinates attendees at the American Evaluation Association conference in Washington, D.C. this fall to meet with someone in the office of their congressperson so they discuss with them the importance of evaluation and give them EPTF materials.

My hope is that this initiative can accomplish three things:

  1. Make more policy makers aware of AEA and the work of EPTF.
  2. Expand the reach of EPTF to creating connections for EPTF.
  3. Give evaluators the opportunity to be part of the early policy-making process by providing materials on evaluation to policy makers prior to the policy being made.

The deadline to sign up to participate has past, but if you would like to learn more about the initiative, click here http://washingtonevaluators.roundtablelive.org/EVCH

Hot Tip: For those of you participating, please remember to pick up your packet of materials at the Local Affiliates Working Group table located close to AEA conference registration.

Rad Resource: If you would like to know more about the Evaluation Policy Task Force, click here http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=129

Rad Resource: If you would like to learn more about the Washington Evaluators, click here http://www.washeval.org/

This is the last of three weeks this year sponsored by our Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG) for Evaluation 2013, the American Evaluation Association Annual Conference coming up next month in Washington, DC. They’re sharing not only evaluation expertise from in and around our nation’s capital, but also tips for enjoying your time in DC. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

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