Evaluating the impact of advocacy is a tricky business. Attempting to unpick how and why a particular campaign, organisation, or group of actors played a meaningful role in achieving a policy outcome is complex. For example, some decision-makers are loath to credit outsider influence when describing their motivations for making a change, which makes it difficult to know if it was a particular paper or conversation that helped. In reality, it is usually a multitude of factors that contribute in different ways and at different times. This is where contribution analysis comes in.
Contribution analysis is a flexible approach that lends itself to advocacy impact evaluation. It does not seek to ‘prove’ the role of a particular actor or set of actors in bringing about change, but instead to develop a plausible, credible evidence-based narrative to answer causal questions about their influence.
This learning brief offers practical lessons on applying contribution analysis to advocacy impact evaluations. We focus on practical management of the approach, especially when dealing with time and resource constraints.