Oxfam America recently led an intensive effort to examine practices and perspectives around advocacy evaluation at nine major global NGOs. The results from this study, published as Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning in NGO Advocacy (February 2013), point to several opportunities for organizations to maximize the benefits from evaluation systems and improve their overall advocacy effectiveness. One of the report’s key findings stresses the importance of building internal capacity for strategic learning and adaptation. A developmental evaluation approach may help organizations accomplish this goal. Pioneered by Michael Quinn Patton and others, developmental evaluation acknowledges uncertainty and complexity and emphasizes rapid feedback loops to support learning and facilitate adaptation to changing circumstances.
At this Advocacy Evaluation Breakfast, Gabrielle Watson, Manager for Campaign Evaluation at Oxfam America and commissioner of this research study, will review the major findings and recommendations in the report and describe Oxfam America’s efforts to use developmental evaluation principles in its policy advocacy evaluation work. Jon Kurtz, Director of Research and Learning at Mercy Corps, will discuss Mercy Corps rationale for and efforts to apply a developmental evaluation approach. He will also share some innovative methods for putting developmental evaluation into practice that he has been exposed to at other organizations.
Jon Kurtz serves as Mercy Corps Director for Research and Learning, where he leads the development and implementation of the agency’s research agenda. Prior to this role, Jon has worked with other international NGOs and UN agencies to improve their abilities to generate and use high quality evidence of program effectiveness and impact. Within the field of program evaluation, Jon’s areas of expertise are systems approaches to evaluation and theory-driven evaluation. His recent research with Mercy Corps has included studies that have tested theories of change related to peace-building, youth employment, food security, social resilience, and civic engagement. Jon’s work has spanned both emergency and longer-term development contexts. He has worked extensively in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. He holds an MSc in Management of Agricultural Knowledge Systems from Wageningen University, in the Netherlands.
Gabrielle Watson is Manager of Campaigns Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at Oxfam America. Gabrielle has worked at the intersection of poverty and human rights for over 15 years, focusing on practitioner-oriented strategic planning, evaluation and learning. She has worked internationally with Oxfam America, CARE and the World Bank, and in the US with city and state planning organizations. She has also worked with indigenous and human rights organizations in Ecuador, and global human rights and environmental networks working on corporate accountability. Gabrielle was a 2003 Research Fellow at MITs Program on Human Rights and Justice and taught at MIT in 2009 Communities, Companies and Accountability. She holds a Masters degree in urban planning from MIT. Gabrielle’s research and writing focus on the role of policy advocacy and human rights in development practice. Her publications are mostly practitioner-oriented, and include Advocacy for Social Justice (Kumarian Press, 2001 and in Spanish by Editorial Abya Yala, 2004), and Rights-based Approaches Learning Project (Oxfam Publishing, 2007). Her 2013 co-authored article on community-based Human Rights Impact Assessment argues that both communities and companies should independently assess the effects of private investments, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. At Oxfam, Gabrielle is building evidence-based monitoring and learning systems for policy advocacy work.