Around the Institute

Words, Numbers, Politics, Technology…and our Upcoming Advocacy Evaluation Breakfast!

July 1, 2011

Save July 15 for Our Next Advocacy Evaluation Breakfast
In a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Steven Teles and Mark Schmitt argue that evaluating advocacy is a fundamentally different task than evaluating services. Evaluating advocacy is, to put it bluntly, evaluating political activity, and it is the nature of politics that events evolve rapidly, often unpredictably and in a nonlinear fashion.Join us here at The Aspen Institute for a stimulating discussion with the authors, who will present their findings. Jackie Williams Kaye, Director of Research and Evaluation at Wellspring Advisors, will respond. Please RSVP by July 13 here.

From Activism to Governance
The Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation recently gathered a group of experts on government, social networks and online media to answer one rather complex question: How can social networking reinvigorate American democracy and civic participation? There are great studies out there about the use of online platforms for policy advocacy campaigns. But Brookings suggests new methods for engaging the average American in politics and advocacy. Now that’s something to tweet about!

Words and Numbers
Last month, The Center for Global Development released a working paper on the relatively recent decline in income inequality across Latin America. They first make this point by showing multiple charts tracking each country’s Gini coefficient (a neat measure of income inequality). However, the paper delves into a variety of complex explanations that cannot be so easily converted into a single coefficient. This may not be advocacy evaluation, but the lesson is still the same: numbers by themselves never tell the whole story.