The biweekly “So What?” guide highlights advice, events, and tips—mostly from the advocacy and evaluation worlds, selected by the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program. We’re a consulting practice at the Aspen Institute that partners with foundations, nonprofit organizations, and individual funders to help them strengthen their efforts to bring about positive change in society.
Advocacy and Policy Change Evaluation: The Movie
Sadly, all our loyal readers did not attend our fabulous evening reception and book talk featuring Annette Gardner, and a great panel discussing Advocacy and Policy Change Evaluation: Theory and Practice, co-authored by Annette and her UCSF colleague, Claire Brindis. Through the magic of Youtube, we offer this super-fun playlist of highlights from the presentations and discussion on topics including the potential ethical challenge of being evaluator, strategist, and activist. You can check out Annette’s presentation slides for the Cliff Notes version. Better yet, order the book to get the full story of advocacy evaluation’s basis in political theory, its evolution into a lively field, and the melding of theory and practice in six smart case studies.
Atlas Learning Project: Updating our Toolboxes
Great news for advocacy evaluators: the Atlantic Philanthropies and everyone’s favorite thought partners at the Center for Evaluation Innovation released the Atlas Learning Project last week, just in time for summer beach reading. The grandly and inexplicably named Atlas Learning Project is a terrific contribution to the field, featuring innovative tools and guidance on tough topics including using legal advocacy, supporting 501(c)(4), building advocacy capacity, moving from policy advocacy to policy implementation, and supporting collaborative campaigns.
Should You Build Advocacy Capacity or Pursue Advocacy Outcomes? Yes.
And here to whet your appetite for more from the Atlas annals, is this brief recounting how the Atlantic Philanthropies and other foundations tried to strike a better balance between funding effective advocacy capacity for the long haul and promoting advocacy campaign wins. Their advice: choose not to choose, and help advocates do both.