Feminist Issues in Evaluation TIG Week: Movement Capacity Assessment Tool: lessons learned from the R&D process by PeiYao Chen, Kelly Gannon, and Lucy McDonald-Steward

Hi! We are PeiYao Chen, Kelly Gannon, and Lucy McDonald-Stewart at Global Fund for Women, a public foundation that raises money and attention to advance women’s rights and gender equality.

Strengthening women’s rights movements is a key component of Global Fund for Women’s Theory of Change. We are charged with figuring out how to meaningfully measure progress of movement building. After two years of research, we developed the Movement Capacity Assessment Tool – an online tool that allows movement actors to assess the strengths, needs, and priorities of their movement and to use the results to develop action plans to strengthen movement capacity.

Currently in the pilot stage, the Movement Capacity Assessment Tool includes a series of questions that capture respondents’ perceptions of their movements along seven dimensions. It also captures the movement’s stages of development, because movements are always evolving.

Hot Tips

Before launching an assessment, first define the social movement you want to focus on.

  • Providing a clear definition and scope ensures that you invite the right people to participate and that the respondents are talking about the same social movement.
  • Lack of scope or difficulty in defining the movement can signify pre-nascent movements or no movement at all.

Diverse voices matter.

  • Because social movements are composed of diverse actors, our sampling approach focuses on including individuals and organizations representing different perspectives, and playing different roles within the movement. These include leaders at the center of the movement as well as those at the margins.
  • Diverse perspectives should also consider generational differences. This might be a difference between the older and younger generations of activists, between more established and newer organizations, or between old-timers and newcomers in the movement.

The tool can be used to inform planning and to measure progress over time.

Results of the assessment can help movement actors and their supporters develop a shared understanding of where the movement is, what the capacity needs are, and develop action plans accordingly.

Participants noted that the process provided space for them to reflect on their role in building movements. Some were motivated to re-engage with other movement actors to develop strategies to collectively address challenges.

Lesson Learned: The tool has its limitations – it cannot capture how different movements intersect, overlap, or exclude one another or provide a comprehensive landscape analysis of a social movement, though it may help identify new or unknown actors.

After we complete the pilot project, we plan to make the tool available to the public. If you are interested in learning more about the tool or helping us test it, please email Kelly at kgannon@globalfundforwomen.org

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE 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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