The Art of Assessing the Impact of Advocacy Work

This paper explores the complex and changing nature of advocacy work, arguing that in many cases standardized forms of Monitoring & Evaluation/ Impact Analysis (M&E/IA) are likely to be inappropriate, as they will probably provide misleading information, and may create incentives that undermine joint action.

While there are obvious pitfalls, there are few ready-made answers. The authors suggest that NGOs involved in advocacy at all levels should identify essential elements of their work at the outset and ensure that they monitor and evaluate those areas that they deem most important. Indeed, evidence shows that short-term successes of advocacy work may often be won at the expense of longer-term aims, such as building capacity among partners and contributing to more fundamental change in the future. Throughout, the authors argue that an analysis of power and power structures should guide advocacy strategy and the ways in which advocacy can effectively be evaluated. A successful M&E approach must be flexible enough not only to adapt to external events, but also to be a tool for reshaping the campaign.


  • Introduction
  • What is advocacy and how is it changing?
  • The deep pitfalls of standard M&E/IA applied to advocacy work
  • Broad approaches to effective M&E/IA for advocacy
  • Conclusion
  • References


Coates B & David R, (2002), Learning for change: the art of assessing the impact of advocacy work, Development in Practice,  Vol. 12, No. 3 & 4. Retrieved from

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