Around the Institute

Engaging with Engagement

October 26, 2012

En•gage•ment (Noun, /en’gājmənt/)

Beth Kanter’s blog always offers some useful food for thought and this week is no different. In writing about her upcoming webinar for the Nonprofit Technology Network, she shares her ideas about that seriously ambiguous word, engagement. What does it mean? And how do we, as evaluators, begin to measure it? Kanter’s “ladders of engagement” is a neat guide to make sense of the road (potentially) traveled by your target audience, from first contact with a message to active advocacy. Yup, super cool.

Social Capital Advocacy
Our colleagues with the Aspen Global Health and Development Program are weaving connections across disparate “silos” and redefining what advocacy for family planning looks like. They broke new ground this month by bringing family planning to the attention of private-sector “social capitalists” at the 2012 Social Capital Markets Conference. As we do with every conference, the evaluator in us wants to ask: talking about the issues is critical, but what happens after the conference is over? It’s in these outcomes that we may find evidence of impact.

Who’da Thunk It?

Adam Gopnik, in a recent blog post for the New Yorker, writes about why Americans just prefer oversimplified political storylines: we all seem to be a tad uncomfortable with uncertainty. So, come November 7th, what will be the headline? Gopnik’s prediction is “the American people decided to fire Obama”…or “the American people decided to rehire the President because they couldn’t trust Romney. Advocates/storytellers should be mindful of these tensions between the macro and the micro, the general and the nuanced.