Pausing to Look Back on Successes (and Challenges)

May 10, 2013

Time to Reflect

This week marked another success for same-sex marriage advocates: Delaware Governor Jack Markell enthusiastically signed into law a same-sex marriage bill that only minutes earlier had passed the state senate.  When we use the Advocacy Progress Planner with clients, we tell them that stopping periodically to reflect on what worked and what didn’t is a critical part of the advocacy process.  So naturally we were thrilled to hear that the Alliance for Justice and the Human Rights Campaign are hosting an event on May 22nd to examine the lessons learned from the 2012 victories. 

On Messaging and Behavior

There is some fascinating news coming out of the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn: research scientists looking at the effect of anti-smoking ads on smokers concluded that it may be the power of the argument itself—not the style of its packaging—that actually influences behavior change.  As the principal investigator says, “an ad is only as strong as its central argument.”  Organizations considering multiple strategies to disseminate their key advocacy messages would do well to keep this study in mind. 

Look at my Data!

Let’s be frank—we as evaluators sometimes have a hard time conveying data in an appealing way to our clients, funders and other non-evaluators.  Thankfully, the American Evaluation Association’s “data viz” Topical Interest Group provides a much-needed platform for folks to discuss effective strategies for making data compelling, useful and (yes…) pretty at the same time.  For a neat example of what a “data viz” approach might look like, check out this map of Chicago’s transit system.  It tells a striking story, a disturbing one.