How can we measure the impact of campaigns?

By 09/12/2020December 10th, 2020Tips

IMIX Chief Executive, Emma Harrison shares her recent presentation on measuring impact for Comic Relief and provides some simple guidelines to get started on evaluating campaigns.

Image by Global Justice Now via Flickr/Creative Commons

IMIX is proud to be part of the Comic Relief Across Borders cohort, and as part of this programme I was asked to share my experience of measuring campaign impact. The session helped me reflect on my practice and has encouraged me to work with the team to improve our monitoring, evaluation and learning framework. It also reminded me that if you haven’t got a clear strategy, you won’t be able to evaluate it effectively (sounds obvious but I’m continually surprised when people tell me they don’t have campaign objectives). For those of you who find PowerPoints challenging, this blog outlines the key steps to take to make sure you can measure your success and learn from mistakes. The full presentation is available here.

One of the biggest challenges we all face is being really clear about the change we want to see and our road map to get there (theory of change). Nailing that really helps with monitoring and evaluation, as does understanding who you need to work with to make change happen. Too many people fall into the trap of thinking that a target audience is ‘the public’. Even the biggest media outlets and brands know that they’re not trying to influence everyone! Your target audience can be the one councillor who can unlock support for resettlement or the 11 MPs who are on the Home Affairs select committee. You might need all your advocates to get behind you, or it might just be the people of Northumbria. Knowing who can help you unlock change is vital: spend time on this!

Once we know who we need to influence, understanding how to secure support is the next on your list; petitions, stunts, mobilisation and letter writing are all valid ways to engage your audience, but spend time understanding what actions will be taken up by your supporters and whether those actions will help you achieve social change.

Once you’ve done all of this (!), you can start doing and collecting the data. Smaller organisations can often feel overwhelmed by data collection but the reasons for investing time and resource mean it’s important we do it. The key reasons for measuring are

  • Accountability: to your beneficiaries, volunteers, staff, and donors
  • Regular monitoring and evaluation can strengthen the impact of your campaigns
  • A powerful evidence base can be used to support your campaign to spur on supporters to further action
  • To keep on track and amend approach

Prioritising what you measure is vital, everything from the press mentions you get, to the number of people taking a campaign action can be counted but what shows you’ve had an impact? There are lots of ideas and tips on how to do this in the presentation, but if you are short on resource, focus on things like number and type of supportive communications made by policy makers, new champions – MPs/local politicians who actively support your campaigning work – and number and type of meetings and consultations you are invited to.

When we’re working for a cause like migration and often work in coalition with others, we often worry about over stating our impact. Don’t! If you are doing good work and you can demonstrate it, tell people about it. Celebrate when things go well and be clear about what you’ve learned if things go wrong.

Author Emma Harrison

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