APEP’s consulting services are tailored to each client, but success for us often means leaving our clients with a stronger strategy, clearer thinking, and a deeper understanding of their impact. Our projects vary widely, including domestic and international issues, and advocacy and non-advocacy objectives. And our clients come to us at many different stages of the planning and evaluation process – from the initial stages of theory of change development to the final evaluation of project impact. Below are some of the common themes across our projects.
Media and Communications Initiatives
Nonprofit organizations and governments invest millions every year in cause-oriented documentary and feature films, radio and television programming, digital and social media, and other forms of communications. APEP works with clients to clarify and measure how these initiatives influence the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of target audiences—and thus contribute to social change. Although our projects vary in their methodologies, APEP’s evaluations of media and communications initiatives share a common set of objective: to understand how our clients seek to make a difference through media and communications; to measure the reach and impact of their messages; and to help translate findings into strategic next steps.
It’s no news that advocating for policy change is difficult. Policy change processes are complex, unpredictable, and often painstakingly slow. But advocates, their boards, and their funders all want to know whether or not their efforts contribute to meaningful change. We work with clients to clarify their strategy and appropriate benchmarks of progress, and collect data that helps advocates know whether – and how – they are making a difference. We draw on multiple tools and techniques, including the Advocacy Progress Planner, champion tracking, bellwether and stakeholder interviews, content analysis, and more.
Coalitions and Networks
Multi-stakeholder partnerships – coalitions, alliances, networks, and others – can bring together combinations of skills and constituencies that can be more than the sum of their parts. Their collective power can help transform social norms, practices, and policy. But these arrangements bring their own evaluation challenges. Funders and advocates have sought APEP’s consulting services at various stages in the partnership process: developing a strategy for creating, funding, and managing a coalition; assessing the effectiveness of a partnership’s structure and internal functions; developing shared indicators to assess progress and impact; and evaluating the impact of a partnership’s collective advocacy efforts.
Theory of Change and M&E Frameworks
What are your goals and objectives? How do your program’s activities lead to your desired outcomes? How would you define “success”? What are appropriate indicators that will help you track progress toward success? These are common questions that we help our clients sort out. In fact, one of the first steps in many of our evaluation projects is helping make more explicit the underlying theory about how a program’s activities lead to desired changes or outcomes in the world. Our experience includes helping clients clarify their “theory of change,” identifying meaningful measures and appropriate data sources for tracking progress and impact, and supporting the development of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools and frameworks that clients can continue to use in the future.