Around the Institute

In Search of Evidence

July 25, 2014

Evidence-based Decisions

Last week, we wrote about a New York Times piece praising the move toward measurement and evaluation in government. Now, even the “undercover economist” (aka Tim Harford) is on the case and has a few words to say about the role of evaluation in assessing ideas to solve social problems. Harford underscores how poorly policymakers and the general public seem to understand the meaning and value of good evidence. Although “the evidence revolution will not be televised,” we think it’ll take an army of persistent evaluators and evaluation allies behind-the-scenes to revolutionize the use of evidence for decision-making.

From Insights to Action

If you haven’t read through ORS Impact’s Getting More From Measurement: Five Insights for Social Innovators, then download the report here…asap. This quick guide offers five simple ideas about measurement that all NGOs and advocates striving for social change should keep in mind as they conduct their work: using a theory of change effectively, gauging progress through interim measures, setting ambitious yet doable benchmarks, aligning measurement with your work style, and – a darn good finale – devoting enough time to put measurement plans into practice. We second that!

Thinking Forward by Looking Back

In the 1970s, neither major political party wanted to touch the issue of LGBT rights. Today, of course, things look quite different. NPR’s 2012 interview with long-time gay rights advocate Madeleine Davis, rebroadcast this week to coincide with a recent Oklahoma ruling on same-sex marriage, unpacks for us a little bit of that history of how we got from there to here. For advocates engaged in other fights, from education reform to nuclear non-proliferation, taking a moment to draw lessons from the successes and failures of the LGBT rights movement seems like a smart idea.