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

Feb/12

9

LGBT Week: Cary Johnson and Efrain Gutierrez on Evaluating Advocacy Efforts to Promote LGBT Human Rights Around the World

Hello! We’re Cary Johnson, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Efrain Gutierrez, Associate at FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm, and Co-leader of the LGBT TIG. We want to share with you some initial lessons learned and resources we have found since IGLHRC engaged with FSG in the development of a Monitoring and Evaluation System.

Lesson Learned – Funders in the field of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) human rights advocacy are becoming more strategic and starting to request more rigorous evaluation from their grantees. FSG conducted interviews with program officers from some of the most influential foundations in the field. Most are going through strategy development processes for their human rights advocacy areas. They are also advancing their evaluation approach, which is having an impact on the level of sophistication of evaluation data requested from grantees.

Rad Resource – Evaluating advocacy efforts is challenging but the field of evaluation is developing robust resources and knowledge to help organizations achieve advocacy’s desired outcomes. IGLHRC’s efforts to promote human rights for LGBT people around the world unfold in a nonlinear fashion making it challenging to evaluate and communicate impact. Thankfully, the field of evaluation has developed tools and practices that have the ability to adapt to IGLHRC’s changing circumstances. A great resource on Advocacy Evaluation is Ehren Reed’s AEA 365 post on the topic.

Rad Resource – Explaining “attribution vs. contribution” to staff from the beginning of engagement can reduce anxiety about evaluation and keep staff engaged throughout the evaluation. As evaluators, we understand that there are many actors working together for LGBT rights and it’s difficult to establish attribution. During our first workshop, FSG discovered that IGLHRC’s staff responded very well to the concept of “attribution vs. contribution” in advocacy evaluation. FSG explained how the evaluation of advocacy efforts is about capturing the journey rather than just a specific policy change. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the Advocacy Evaluation Wikipedia page.

Lessons Learned – If you are working with local partners in an international context make sure you engage frontline staff working on the ground. They know the cultural sensitivities that might affect evaluation and data collection practices. While developing IGLHRC’s logic model we learned that in certain regions the concept of evaluation can be perceived as a Western construct and might be seen as a way to control local advocacy efforts. This is one example of the importance of cultural competency in evaluation. As we develop the M&E system for IGLHRC, we give staff from different regions flexibility to adapt data collection activities to the regional context.

We’re celebrating LGBT Evaluation week with our colleagues in AEA’s LGBT Topical Interest Group. Follow @aeaweb on twitter this week, or subscribe to the week’s Headlines and Resources list for more LGBT Evaluation items of note. 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. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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3 comments

  • Efrain Gutierrez · February 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Hello Becca,

    The way I re-frame is by talking about the benefits of evaluation for the local partners in terms or learning. Let me use an example to explain this: When I was a teenager in Mexico my father put me in charge of our milking cows. When I took charge of the production I numbered all the cows and implemented a software system to track their information. After a few months of collecting data I started giving reports to the employees telling them which cows needed to get pregnant and so on.

    The employees did not buy the idea of the 15 year old son of the owner telling them what to do. It was not until I sat with them and explained the benefits of the system that they started using it. It was not until I showed them how they were going to be saving time by not having to inseminate a cow twice that they started not only using but helping me make the system better.

    I know that my example oversimplifies the complexity and importance of working with local partners in advocacy efforts but I hope it helps you understand my approach.

    Efrain

    Reply

  • Becca C. · February 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Hello! One question:
    “…we learned that in certain regions the concept of evaluation can be perceived as a Western construct and might be seen as a way to control local advocacy efforts.” How did you reframe evaluation or otherwise adapt to deal with this issue?

    Reply

  • Becca C. · February 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Hello! One question:
    “…we learned that in certain regions the concept of evaluation can be perceived as a Western construct and might be seen as a way to control local advocacy efforts.” How did you reframe evaluation or otherwise adapt to deal with this issue?

    Reply

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