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Global Interdependence Initiative
CONTINUOUS PROGRESS Better Advocacy Through Evaluation
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Throughout Continuous Progress, we refer to examples of campaigns, coalitions or organizations that have illustrated different key components of planning successful advocacy and evaluation. While these are by no means complete case studies, they offer insights into the challenge of effective advocacy.


Supporters of the third revision of the “African Growth and Opportunity Act” or AGOA III, demonstrated exemplary unity of purpose in their campaign around the legislation. Despite facing numerous hurdles — including the pitched political battles raging in Washington during the 2004 election campaign — the AGOA III Committee launched a concerted lobbying effort focused solely on locking in passage of the bill that year, and they were successful.

The “African Growth and Opportunity Act” was first signed by President Clinton in 2000. This bill aims to encourage investment and trade in selected African countries by granting them preferential access to the US market. In December 2002, President Bush enacted certain amendments (“AGOA II”) that further expanded the scope of the legislation. To enhance and maintain the key provisions of AGOA I, an influential coalition of businesses and NGOs joined with the African Diplomatic Corps and key Congressional Supporters to lobby for “AGOA III.” Despite the range of supporters, AGOA III's passage was far from assured.

With outsourcing emerging as an important election issue, many legislators did not want to be associated with a bill that could be construed as helping foreign industry at the expense of domestic workers. The Administration supported the bill but did not make it a high priority; and Congressional Democrats did not want to give the President an easy victory. There were also procedural issues—due to time constraints the Senate leadership had deemed that this bill could only be passed by unanimous consent without debate on any amendments or changes.

The AGOA III Action Committee drafted politically “passable” legislation and worked with staffers of appropriate committees to promote the bill. To raise awareness of the issue, they hosted glamorous events on the Hill (funded by the corporate members and attended by high profile supporters like Rock musician Bono), placed ads in Roll Call and provided expert testimony in Congressional hearings. But they also crafted and presented highly tailored messages to win the support of individual Senators and Representatives. They worked closely with the African Diplomatic Corps whose active support was a critical factor in the bill's passage.

NGOs united to position AGOA as a trade bill that allows Africans to lift themselves out of poverty. In doing so, its supporters argued, AGOA embodies and illustrates American values of individual initiative and capitalist enterprise. They pointed out that if the bill's provisions were not extended, America would be seen as reneging on the commitments and promises it had made and the values it had promoted to African nations.

This presentation of AGOA as a way for America to fulfill its promises and live by its values was important for preventing the bill from getting bogged in a discussion of the relative gains and losses for American business. Even though corporate interests were driving the bill (with the textile industry opposing it and retail, clothing manufacturers and energy sectors supporting it), the discussion of AGOA III focused on the real and potential gains for African nations, not American businesses.

From "Advocacy for Impact," Purnima Chawla for the GII

Better Safer World

The Better Safer World campaign demonstrated that people can be mobilized around international poverty reduction and that regular folks in “middle America” understand that a better world is one that is safer for everyone. Working in the three months prior to the 2004 Iowa caucus, the campaign recorded significant increases in people's awareness of global poverty issues and support for policies to address these concerns. Large numbers of Iowans signed the campaign pledge, visited the campaign website, and attended events to demonstrate their support for the campaign. The credibility of the member NGOs played a big role in this success, as did high visibility of the campaign in the media and the enthusiastic efforts of some of the local organizers.

Due to its short time frame, the campaign could not ascertain how well this grassroots sentiment can be sustained without continuous media presence, or how effectively it can be translated into long-term commitment and active advocacy by supporters. However, the success of this pilot program helped lead to the development of the ONE campaign, a national effort to build a strong and active grassroots constituency to advocate for better U.S. policies to address global health and poverty issues.

From "Advocacy for Impact," Purnima Chawla for the GII

Citizens for Global Solutions

Sometimes an entire organization can “re-frame” itself, with great results for its advocacy. The World Federalist Association had worked for decades to promote a better United Nations. The organization's leadership and members re-examined their mission and vision and re-launched themselves in 2004 as Citizens for Global Solutions, “a nationwide organization that inspires America to engage the world…. Citizens for Global Solutions believes that countries can best solve global problems by working together to find global solutions.” CGS communications consistently underscore the themes of an interconnected world and the potential impact of citizen advocacy in shaping US policy. Membership is up, as are contacts with congressional leaders.

Debt Relief 2005

Debt relief for developing countries was a major focus of the July 2005 G8 Summit, but the efforts to make that happen went back many years—and were guided by a series of well-defined benchmarks set out by the Jubilee campaign. From securing bipartisan support to the introduction of bills, these milestones indicated that the campaign was on the right path and going in the right direction.

Example provided by Jim McDonald, Bread for the World

Save Darfur Coalition

The Save Darfur Coalition was started by advocacy and humanitarian relief groups affiliated with the Jewish community. At first it mobilized predominantly members of this community across the country, calling them to action to help stop the genocide in Darfur. In less than two years the coalition has evolved to become a diverse alliance of over 100 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations. A rally in Washington DC on April 30, 2006 showed how diverse the Save Darfur constituency has become. This constituency is mobilized on a frequent basis to online action alerts and other advocacy opportunities.

From "Advocacy for Impact," Purnima Chawla for the GII

Jubilee 2000

The Jubilee movement was able to attract and represent both conservative and liberal church-goers. “A movement that won the support of both Bono U2's and Sen. Jesse Helms must have something going for it,” said an article on Christianity Today. A central player in the movement, the Jubilee Coalition, was (and is) very large and diverse. However, leading up to the passage of the Jubilee 2000 bill, it had a small and focused policy advocacy core. This combination of a focused policy component and a surprisingly heterogeneous public outreach component helped the coalition advocate effectively. Different groups were able to reach their constituencies effectively, and their participation helped politicians perceive the issue as larger than any special interest or ideology. On the other hand, the direct advocacy component of the movement advanced a focused, coherent policy ask that was fiscally and politically viable.
From "Advocacy for Impact," Purnima Chawla for the GII

Kaiser Family Foundation

“We see some interesting opportunities out there, in particular with the global AIDS work. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a survey of the American public, asking questions about whether the U.S. should spend more on issues such as global AIDS. People are saying YES, because they see that it can make a difference, and they say the U.S. can do more. It's a three-year trend we've been observing. I believe the reason for this—although I don't have empirical evidence of it--is that there's been a lot of organizations and people spending time on this and showing that there can be an impact. People like Bono, President Clinton, the Gates Foundation, Kaiser and others. These results coincide with the time period where there's been a lot of activity on these issues. People also got to see some unusual actors involved in global AIDS such as the evangelical groups, and President Bush himself.”

Example provided by Matt James, Kaiser Family Foundation

“Lessons in Evaluation Communications Campaigns”

The paper “Lessons in Evaluation Communications Campaigns” presents five evaluation case studies that are designed to serve as illustrations for how to evaluate organized communications efforts. These case studies present campaigns that have already faced and dealt with difficult evaluation choices and challenges. Each chose a different evaluation approach, and each adds to our learning about conducting evaluation in this field. Along with their diversity in terms of evaluation approach, the five campaigns were chosen for their diversity in terms of their purpose and target audience.

Excerpt from Lessons in Evaluating Communications Campaigns: Five Case Studies, by Julia Coffman of the Harvard Family Research Project for the Communications Consortium Media Center.
Make Poverty History 2005
The Coordination Team of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign commissioned an impact evaluation of the 2005 campaign's efforts. The evaluation sought to answer: What progress did the Coalition make against its objectives during 2005? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the coalition's approach and set up? What lessons can be learned for the future?

Make Poverty History was undertaken by an alliance of over 400 UK-based non-government organizations (NGOs), charities, trade unions, campaigning groups, faith communities, and celebrities; these groups mobilized around key opportunities in 2005 to drive forward the struggle against poverty and injustice. Key elements of the action campaign - which drew on the internet, mass, media, and community-based events - were timed to reach leaders as they prepared to gather at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in July 2005.

The effectiveness of the coalition was thought to be the combination of:

  • The fact that coalition members committed to work together
  • The popular communications. This included the brand, the portfolio of tools used, media coverage, celebrity support, Live8 and the Edinburgh rally
  • The policy research and lobbying that supported the communications
Excerpts from Make Poverty History Campaign 2005 Campaign Evaluation by Andy Martin, Carolyn Culey, Suzy Evans, Firetail Limited, UK.
Millennium Development Goals
In this policy overview produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Centre, the authors propose that greater public awareness and concern about development issues could put issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on domestic political agendas and thereby protect official development assistance (ODA) commitments. Creating that awareness will mean engaging people in a deeper debate about development, and thus building a "real" constituency. Public awareness is thus a key growth area in the global debate on the MDGs. To mobilize citizens in support of the MDGs, communicators and development educators must find new ways to demonstrate that donors and recipients are actually working towards them as part of a shared global effort to reduce poverty. The MDGs could be used as a yardstick to showcase what has been achieved by developing-country governments and donors, thanks to more and better aid, fairer trade, debt relief and good governance.

Excerpts from MDGs, Taxpayers and Aid Effectiveness (pdf): Policy Insights No. 13, by Ida Mc Donnell and Henri-Bernard Solignac-Lecomte. 
WK Kellogg Foundation/Devolution Initiative
In 1996 the W.K. Kellogg Foundation decided to work on welfare reform and health care issues by forming the Devolution Initiative. Through 2001, the Initiative supported 30 national and state research, policy, and advocacy organizations, and teams of minority researchers and community organizers, to work together, with a particular focus in five states (Florida, Mississippi, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin) on three primary goals:
  • To create an objective information base about the impact of welfare reform and health care devolution that is useful and useable to a broad group of stakeholders, including community members
  • To share the findings with policymakers and the public
  • To use the information and other community resources to promote public participation in informing policy agendas and decisions.
The Initiative designed a theory of change that was articulated in the planning stages, which then served as a guide for the Initiative's ongoing strategic development and management. The theory was also used by evaluators to seek evidence that the components of the theory were in place and that the theorized links between the activities and their intended outcomes exist.
From Julia Coffman's report on the Devolution Initiative (pdf).