Advocacy: Costs Lots, But What About The Impact?
A few months ago contributor Sarah Reckhow wrote a post about philanthropy-funded education advocacy efforts that asked a good question: "How does the Gates Foundation plan to evaluate its large portfolio of “advocacy” grants?"
Of course, this isn't just an issue for Gates or other reform-minded funders. Teachers unions (AFT, NEA) and nonprofits on the other side (Broader/Bolder Alliance, Shanker Institute, and the new Ravitch thing) are actively engaged in advocacy as well, and have to figure out if their spending is making a difference, too.
To get at some of the challenges advocacy evaluation involves, Reckhow recommended a 201 article in the Stanford Social Innoviation Review (The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy).
I promised myself I'd read it but -- big surprise -- never did. Then yesterday Fordham's Mike Petrilli sent over a link to a Spring 2013 SSIR article (Assessing Advocacy).
Skipping over the actual reading of these reports -- I blame my Montessori years -- I asked around whether anyone was already doing this in education-land, and the gist of what I got is that foundations and grantees are starting to talk about assessing their advocacy efforts but that nothing specific has happened on the education front.
Or, if it has, it hasn't gotten out into the wild yet. But it's coming.
For example. I got wind of (but haven't found yet) another recent report, this one by the LFA Group, about measuring the impact of advocacy media, apparently funded by the Gates and Knight foundations earlier this year. (Working on it -- meantime there's this Advocacy Evaluation Mini-Toolkit]. There's also apparently a Walton Family Foundation white paper in the works about evaluating advocacy grants.
Previous posts: So How'd The Advocacy Groups Do?; Gates Shifts Strategy & Schools Get Smaller Share [Reckhow]; EdWeek's Balanced View Of Reform Advocacy; StudentsFirst Continues To Expand Despite Controversy; What To Think About C4TE's Collapse?;