Transforming Knowledge into Change

The Challenge of Assessing Policy and Advocacy Activities

The paper is designed to outline an approach to policy change evaluation grounded in the experience of experts and foundation colleagues. (See Appendix A for the research methodology.) This paper first posits three key priorities in evaluating policy change work, drawn from interviews with grantees and staff from The California Endowment on their needs concerning policy change evaluation. It also discusses the challenges inherent in monitoring and assessing these types of grants.

It then provides a brief description of the “state of the practice” in evaluating policy change and advocacy work within the foundation community. Because the practice of evaluating a foundation’s impact on policy advocacy is fairly new, our review did not unearth a commonly practiced methodology or widely used tools. However, seven widely agreed upon principles of effective policy change evaluation did emerge. Based upon these seven principles and the advice of national evaluation experts, we recommend a prospective approach to policy change evaluation.

Part II of the paper is devoted to outlining this recommended approach. A prospective approach would enable a funder to define expectations from the start of a grant, monitor progress and provide feedback for grantees on their work as the program is operating. This paper outlines key components of this prospective approach, namely setting up an evaluation framework and benchmarks prospectively, at the beginning of a grant, and then assessing progress and impact along the way. As well, this paper highlights the articles, manuals and expert advice most relevant and useful in developing this prospective approach.


Bibliographic Details
Author Commissioned by The California Endowment. Researched and Written by Blueprint Research and Design, Inc.
Publisher The California Endowment
Publication Date October 1, 2005
Publication City
Publication Work
Resource Type
Resource Focus
Submitted to Point K April 3, 2015 - 8:54am

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