Evaluating the impact of advocacy campaigns can seem impossible. Here are three handy guides that can help you undertake effective monitoring and evaluation of your advocacy and campaigning.

There are many reasons to measure your impact. Some campaigners and experts dismiss campaign evaluation, claiming it is impossible given the complexities of politics and the seemingly unquantifiable nature of social progress.

But with donors increasingly demanding outcomes-based accountability, evaluation can provide useful evidence of why your approach is effective and worth funding. It can also provide sobering feedback about whether the time, effort and money you are investing are going to waste and – heaven forbid – if you might need to rethink tactics and strategy.

Correct evaluation methodology is vital if your evaluation is to be useful and effective. Campaign evaluations definitely needn’t meet “gold standard” academic research methods, but should be based on some solid principles. Lucky these good people have done the hard work for you, and suggest some approaches:

1. Bite-sized “Assessing Advocacy” from Australian activist Justin Whelan provides a really simple breakdown campaign evaluation. It highlights challenges to meaningful assessment, a range of principles that unite most advocacy evaluation literature, and a range of practical questions you can ask when conducting an evaluation.

2. Maureen O’Flynn’s “Tracking Progress in Advocacy” from the International NGO Training and Research Centre is a bit meatier, providing a straightforward overview of why and how to monitor and evaluate campaigning. It gives guidance on which advocacy outcomes should be measured and suggestions of handy methodological tools and templates you can employ.

3. UNICEF’s campaign evaluation bible “Advocacy Toolkit Companion” is comprehensive and super useful, organised into ‘five questions’ for campaign evaluation. It features case studies of monitoring and evaluation of UNICEF advocacy in political environments as diverse as Mexico, Tanzania, Tajikistan and Iceland.