My name is David Devlin-Foltz and I direct the Advocacy Planning and Evaluation Program at the Aspen Institute, a Washington, DC, based think tank and convening organization. I am not an evaluator, but occasionally I play one at AEA conferences and client meetings. Why the confession? Because I am a career policy wonk with 25 years of experience helping foundations and nonprofits promote positive changes in policies. Over the past seven years or so, I have worked with “real evaluators” to think about how advocates can more systematically plan and evaluate their advocacy work. Changing policy is complex – just ask President Obama! But careful planning helps advocates think about meaningful outcomes and benchmarks that help them change course when necessary. Our team at the Aspen Institute has developed some web-based tools to help foundation program staff and advocacy groups learn together and sharpen their advocacy work. Our Continuous Progress Strategic Services consults to a number of major foundations and nonprofits, helping them use our tools to increase their impact – and to figure out what made the difference.
My able colleague and trusty sidekick Lisa Molinaro is teaming up Tuesday, March 23rd at 2 pm Eastern time with Astrid Hendricks of The California Endowment – one of our favorite “real evaluators – for an AEA “coffee break” demonstration of one Rad Resource that can help my fellow policy wonks and advocacy enthusiasts bring some careful planning and strategic learning to their work.
Rad Resource: The Advocacy Progress Planner is available free of charge – gratis! – for nothing! – on the web and is already assisting scores of advocacy groups and their funders on issues as diverse as promoting better family planning policies in Tanzania and closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Lisa and Astrid will walk you through a quick demo on Tuesday. You can sign up here: http://comm.eval.org/EVAL/coffee_break_webinars/Home/Default.aspx
Rad Resource: Julia Coffman of the new Center for Evaluation Innovation thinks it is “hilarious” that I call her my mentor, but – truly – Julia is an invaluable pioneer in this nascent policy and advocacy evaluation field. Check out the Center and its newsletter for new ideas and approaches.