Measuring the effects of advocacy is not simple. Decision-makers often do not want to say if they have been influenced by specific actions or campaigns. Advocates cannot always know the reach of their campaigns. And contexts are always shifting.
But if advocates don’t know what is working, how can they get better at what they do?
This is where Itad’s MEL support came in.
We understood that MEL needed to be agile and nimble, to allow for real-time pivots and reduce the burden on already-stretched advocacy teams.
We began by developing a flexible framework that would help us – and the organisations we were working with – to identify where support was needed. You can read about the framework and our lessons from applying it.
We then worked alongside each of the six organisations to develop a bespoke set of activities and outputs that would respond to their needs. The driving principle behind our work was accompanying change – not imposing it.
The advocacy organisations were diverse: large, multinational international NGOs working across a wide range of issues, as well as small, local NGOs working on only one thing; organisations with dedicated MEL staff and resources, and organisations with none.
We learnt that the most important factor in driving progress with MEL was culture. If an organisation was open to critical thinking and questioning, there was space for MEL to thrive. The simplest tools and processes were best: after-action reviews and outcome stories provided easy, flexible entry points for advocates to engage with.