When Should You Monitor/Evaluate?
It is recommended that advocacy activities are always monitored to ensure that they are kept on track. But this is particularly important where new advocacy activities are carried out. For example, if you develop a new communications material (say a poster, or a newsletter) you should monitor to see if you get more phone or mail responses from new supporters.
The frequency of monitoring will depend on the urgency and importance of your advocacy project, and how this fits in with your usual reporting procedures. If action is urgent and important, there should be frequent monitoring (at least monthly). As a general guideline, some organizations require a six-monthly activity review, in the form of a written report.
Where you are working in an advocacy coalition or alliance, or with an advocacy partner, there should be at least one formal review every year. You might want to hold more frequent reviews with some key partners (e.g. for a funded project or a major advocacy campaign).
It should be remembered that monitoring can also include verbal reports (e.g. reporting progress against plan to your manager or the coalition/alliance) and/or written reports (e.g. monthly reports). You will need to agree: lines of reporting (e.g. you can report to your boss or the coalition/alliance), the regularity of reports, and whether these are verbal or written.
Evaluation should always be carried out on completion of advocacy activities. It should also be carried out periodically on longer-duration activities.
Donors may have their own requirements on the frequency of monitoring and evaluation needed.
It is also recommended to bring colleagues (and volunteers) involved in each advocacy program area together on a regular basis, to share experiences and good practice, identify lessons and areas to build on, and assess progress towards advocacy objectives.
For any of this to work effectively, organizations/partners and volunteers need to understand the purpose and process of the review, and what their roles are within it.
It is also recommended to close the gap between daily activities and the ‘big picture’, by bringing planning and review schedules at different levels into line with each other. Furthermore, concentrating on outcomes enables us to move away from lists of activities (which show we are occupied, but not necessarily productive…) towards concrete achievements.