Measurement Strategies

The politics of a campaign can be unpredictable, but assessment can help advocates be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead. In addition to a framework for navigating change, GEAR includes benchmarks, guidance, and resources to help advocates measure the success of equitable change. 

How To

To assess the success of equity campaigns, advocates need to ask the right questions before, during, and after the campaign. These questions are described in the Gear Guide:Planning and Assessing Success, and previewed below.
  • Why assess? 
  • What results matter? 
  • When to assess? 
  • Who will lead the assessment? 
  • What are the right methods to employ? 
  • What's working? What needs to change? 

Why assess? 
At the outset of an equity campaign, it is important for stakeholders to come together to consider the value of tracking and assessing their campaign, and to determine the goals and interests to be served by the assessment.

What results matter? 
The politics of a campaign can be unpredictable, but assessment can help advocates be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead. GEAR can be used to scope potential advocacy directions and help determine where to look for results.
When to assess? 
Assessment may occur during and after a campaign. Improving advocacy strategy necessitates real-time information that feeds back to advocates. Real-time assessment raises practical questions about tracking progress, gathering the appropriate information, and packaging it to provide feedback. 
Who will lead the assessment? 
Tracking and assessing the success of equity advocacy requires a commitment to identifying, gathering, and assembling relevant information to meet the goals of the assessment. The person or team taking responsibility for this work could be internal or external to the campaign, responsible for all of the assessment, or simply parts of it. 
What are the right methods to employ? 
Evaluation of advocacy efforts is not an easy task, but there is a growing body of work in this area, producing useful frameworks and tools to meet the needs of multiple audiences. Much of this work states the utility of interim benchmarks and indicators to measure progress. 
What's working? What needs to change? 
The self-assessment of equity results both during and after an equity campaign is essential for improvement. The GEAR Guide to Planning and Assessing Success provides big-picture guidance to advocates to measure and track benchmarks of equity advocacy success. Additional resources are also available to support unique assessment needs. 

Tools and Resources

Resources from the Field
The following resources have been compiled for those seeking further information on specific topics related to planning and assessing equity campaigns. This list is not comprehensive, but includes a sampling of relevant topics: general information on advocacy and policy change processes, specific information on aspects of equity advocacy, such as community-based research and communication, and useful information about advocacy evaluation.
Advocacy for Equity 
  • Blackwell, Kwoh, and Pastor have summarized key issues and strategies related to achieving racial equity in America in Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America's Future. Chapter 6 discusses the roles of creating changes both in policy and community leadership to get equity results.
  • The Applied Research Center has developed a Racial Equity Impact Assessment Toolkit to help identify how different racial and ethnic groups will be impacted by proposed actions or decisions, such as those included in policy proposals. REIAs are new in the United States but have been used in the United Kingdom for nearly a decade.
  • Advocating for Change is an online manual developed by PolicyLink in 2004 to provide an in-depth understanding of the advocacy process for equity. Case studies are shared throughout.
  • Advocating for Equitable Development was developed by PolicyLink in 2004 to describe advocacy strategies to build an effective campaign for equitable development.
  • Reflect-Action has developed guidance on developing chapatti diagrams for power mapping, to allow advocates and others to analyze power relations, which are important to guide equity campaign strategy. 
Advocacy Evaluation
Community Organizing 
Capacity Building
  • Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide was developed by Communications Network and Asibey Consulting in 2008 to help advocates improve their communications efforts at the start of a campaign or as a campaign progresses.
  • M+R Strategic Services has developed instructions on how to use "power mapping" in communications strategies, which may be useful to advocates planning their equity campaign strategy.
  • In 2006, M+R Strategic Services and the Advocacy Institute developed eNonProfit Benchmark Study: Measuring Email Messaging, Online Fundraising, and Internet Advocacy Metrics for Nonprofit Organizations.
  • iNews for a Change: An Advocate's Guide to Working with the Media is a guidebook for strategically using media, advertisng, and community organizing to advance a public policy initiative. It was written by Wallack, Woodruff, Dorfman, and Diaz and published in 1999. 
  • Street Science: Community Knowledge and Environmental Health Justice, discusses the power of community knowledge to transform systems and environments. It includes case studies that illustrate how local community experts might partner with traditional researchers to improve policy outcomes.
  • Community Based Participatory Research: From Process to Outcomes, compiled by Minkler and Wallerstein in 2008, features a collection of guidance and case studies for carrying out community-led research to address community priorities.
  • Minkler, Garcia, Rubin, and Wallerstein issued recent guidance on how community-based participatory research can impact policy. The report is titled, Community-Based Participatory Research: A Strategy for Building Healthy Communities and Promoting Health through Policy Change: A Report to The California Endowment.
  • Stakeholder Involvement in Evaluation: Three Decades of the American Journal of Evaluation, by Rodriguez-Campos, discusses the value and trends in stakeholder engagement in evaluations. It summarizes a review of over 30 years of literature, and was published in 2012.
  • People Making Public Policy in California: The PICO California Project,, is an evaluation report that highlights community leadership in policy change. Developed by Paul Speer in May 2002, it provides an important example of how to use research to track advocacy.
  • Community Tool Box is an extensive online resource of tools for community change, and includes guidance on conducting participatory & empowerment evaluations and research.
Building and Advancing a Movement
  • In an article from a 2010 issue of The Foundation Review, titled Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building, Masters and Osborn identify how foundations can support movement-building. Included is a table of important elements at various stages of a movement.
  • In 2012, Pastor, Ito, and Rosner produced Transactions, Transformations, Translations: Metrics that Matter for Building, Scaling, and Funding Social Movements. Guidance on metrics includes discussions of organizing, civic engagement, alliance building, leadership development, and others.