APEP Publications

“So What?”  APEP’s (lightly snarked) Bi-weekly Newsletter

“So What? Your Bi-weekly Guide to Advocacy with Impact” is a short and (we hope) catchy update on what’s new, savvy, shocking, or inspiring in the worlds of advocacy or evaluation. Use the form below to get “So What” delivered to your inbox!

Other Publications

We invite you to peruse some examples of reports and articles authored by APEP staff.

Meaningfully Connecting with Communities in Advocacy and Policy Work

by Susanna Dilliplane and David Devlin-Foltz

Commissioned by Fund for Shared Insight, this landscape scan explores whether and how US funders and nonprofits seek to meaningfully connect with the people and communities that their advocacy and policy work is intended to benefit. It employs an intentionally exploratory lens, without a predetermined definition of what “connecting” would look like in advocacy and policy contexts, nor presumptions about what might be needed to support connections. The research findings are intended to inform Shared Insight’s grantmaking strategy, and to contribute to the broader field’s understanding of what it means — and what it takes — to meaningfully connect with communities that are ultimately intended to benefit from advocacy and policy work. Shared Insight is a funder collaborative seeking to improve philanthropy by elevating the voices of those least heard.

Women and Girls Lead Global: Final Evaluation Report

by Susanna Dilliplane and David Devlin-Foltz

In 2012, Independent Television Service (ITVS) launched the Women and Girls Lead Global (WGLG) project, working in Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, India, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, and Peru. ITVS set out to test the idea that high-quality, emotionally compelling international documentary films focused on development issues and solutions could be used in diverse country contexts to help inspire and model women’s empowerment and gender equality. At the heart of the project’s theory of change is the idea that international documentaries about women and girls acting as agents of change can help spark “breakthrough conversations” on challenging, culturally sensitive topics and pave the way for community-driven solutions to gender inequities. APEP served as ITVS’s evaluation partner throughout the five-year project. This final report summarizes findings on the project’s reach and impact over five years, and draws broader lessons about the utility of WGLG’s film-based model for fostering social change.

Evaluating Advocacy for Policy Implementation: A Pilot of Two Tools


From 2009 to 2016, APEP and CARE USA partnered to develop a set of tools for evaluating policy advocacy. Our efforts were part of the nascent, but growing, field of advocacy evaluation, which grapples with the challenge of measuring advocates’ contributions to complex policymaking and policy implementation processes. This report shares what we learned from our experience piloting two tools focused on the US Government’s implementation of key policies on gender-based violence (GBV) and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). The Gender Scorecard for U.S. Administration Officials is a systematic approach to tracking the extent to which officials engage in actions aligned with CARE’s policy implementation goals. The Quality of Discourse tool uses content analysis to assess the extent to which officials’ public statements reflect CARE’s messaging on the complex causes and consequences of CEFM, and potential strategies for addressing it. The goal of these tools was to help CARE monitor policy implementation progress – and, where possible, to assess CARE’s contribution.

The Role and Value of the Packard Foundation’s Communications: Key Insights from Grantees

by David Devlin-Foltz and Susanna Dilliplane

Communications can support grantmaking in many different ways, and foundations vary widely in how they use communications to advance their work. How loud a voice should foundations have? How should they use it? The David and Lucile Packard Foundation wanted to know what its grantees had to say about this, and partnered with the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program to help answer these questions. The results of this study, grounded in a survey and interviews with Packard Foundation grantees, provide lessons about where the Foundation’s distinctive voice may make the most valuable contribution, and what kinds of challenges to be mindful of. The findings are informing how the Foundation integrates communications into grantmaking strategies. This report, along with the accompanying technical appendix, may be a useful resource for grantees, foundations, and other stakeholders interested in exploring the role of funder communications.

Measuring Progress: Recommended Indicators for Girls Not Brides Members Working to Address Child Marriage (and accompanying User’s Guide)

by Susanna Dilliplane and David Devlin-Foltz

Girls Not Brides (GNB) is a global partnership of more than 500 members from over 70 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas united by a commitment to end child marriage. In 2014, GNB developed a common Theory of Change to End Child Marriage with input from over 150 members and other experts. GNB commissioned the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program to develop a list of recommended indicators to help measure progress towards different elements of the Theory of Change. The list incorporates indicators gathered from GNB’s national partners, member organizations, United Nations and government agencies, and other sources.


Civil Society Advocacy in Uganda: Lessons Learned 

by David Devlin-Foltz with a Foreword by Richard Ssewakiryanga

Over several decades – and with increasing intensity in recent years – the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector in Uganda has participated in vigorous efforts to shape public policy. The emergence of such civil society advocacy in Uganda, as one commentator notes, refl ects the growing and welcome ability of civil society “to occupy space inadvertently ignored by government.” This study underscores the potential for charitable service delivery groups and rights-based organizations to bring their knowledge of real human needs to bear on the policies that constrain equitable access to services and fair treatment under law. Co-published with the Uganda National NGO Forum and featuring a thoughtful foreword by its director, Richard Ssewakiryanga, this study identifies cross-cutting issues and lessons learned from four case studies commissioned by the Forum.  The campaigns studied span a range of issues, time frames, and levels of contribution to the desired policy impact. Discussion questions following this overview and each case study may inspire deeper refl ection on the role of civil society advocacy in Uganda and in other settings.


Advocacy Evaluation: Challenges and Emerging Trends 

by David Devlin-Foltz, Michael C. Fagen, Ehren Reed, Robert Medina, Brad L. Neiger

A well-designed evaluation that moves beyond inventorying advocacy activities can help make the case for funding advocacy and policy change efforts. Although it is one thing to catalog meetings held, position papers drafted, and pamphlets distributed, it is quite another to demonstrate that these outputs resulted in useful policy change outcomes. This is where the emerging field of advocacy evaluation fits in by assessing (among other things) strategic learning, capacity building, and community organizing. Based on recent developments, this article (Health Promotion Practice, 2012) highlights several challenges advocacy evaluators are currently facing and provides new resources for addressing them.


AEA365: APC Week: David Devlin-Foltz on Advocacy and Policy Change as a Developing Evaluation Field
By David Devlin-Foltz

Kicking off AEA365’s Advocacy and Policy Change Week, David Devlin-Foltz highlights the work of the American Evaluation Association’s Topical Interest Group on Advocacy and Policy Change as well as The Aspen Institute’s new and improved Advocacy Progress Planner.


A Response to Coe and Schlangen 

by David Devlin-Foltz, Lisa Molinaro and Robert Medina

In a response to Jim Coe and Rhonda Schlangen’s article titled “Looking Through the Right End of the Telescope” (Center for Evaluation Innovation, 2011), the Advocacy Planning and Evaluation Program team argue for the thoughtful use of tools in the field of advocacy evaluation, keeping in mind that not every situation requires a tool and not every tool is suited for all situations.


AEA365: David Devlin-Foltz on Tools for Advocacy Evaluation

By David Devlin-Foltz

This blog discusses two useful tools in the emerging field of advocacy evaluation: The Aspen Institute’s online (and free) resource, the Advocacy Progress Planner, and the cutting-edge research coming out of the Center for Evaluation Innovation.


Better Together? A User’s Guide to Funding Advocacy Coalitions 

by David Devlin-Foltz

This article provides guidelines for funders supporting advocacy coalitions. David considers the potential pitfalls of coalition funding and offers practical advice on strengthening the work of advocacy coalitions by helping them work “better together.”


Champions and “Champion-ness”: Measuring Efforts to Create Champions for Policy Change 

by David Devlin-Foltz and Lisa Molinaro

Creating “policy champions” who can bring about changes in public policy is central to many advocacy projects. But what exactly is a champion for policy change? How can we assess progress in identifying, informing, supporting, or engaging them? This brief describes our process and preliminary experiences. It also highlights challenges we have encountered.