In Autumn/Winter 2011 we appointed Nexus Research Cooperative to design the evaluation framework and deliver the interim and final evaluation report. A decision was made to use the Theory of Change Model as the evaluative framework and began with our long term objectives. For further information on the Theory of Change go to: http://www.theoryofchange.org/what-is-theory-of-change.
The interim evaluation (finalised in July 2013) explored how the practice of change happened relative to the how the original theory of change was expected to happen. It concluded that while it was unlikely that significant changes could be brought about during the lifetime of The Advocacy Initiative the instability of the relationship between the community and voluntary sector and the state should be seen as an opportunity in terms of the application and use ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ approaches.
The interim evaluation also identified a number of learning points arising from the work of The Advocacy Initiative:
- The various research studies undertaken had generated useful insights in relation to how the community and voluntary sector and its social justice advocacy work were perceived by the sector and by others.
- The Knowledge Exchange Fora provided an important space where social justice advocacy actors could come together.
- Social justice advocacy organisations should develop their self-critical capacity to review their position and role within the wider sphere of achieving social justice, in the context also of the social justice contributions of others and the constraints they work under.
It was concluded that the project should generate a legacy that:
- Maintained open space for discussion and critical self-reflection
- Ensured access to the resources and learning produced through the lifetime of The Advocacy Initiative
- Connected to platforms (existing or new) whereby this learning can be shared
- Ensured that capacity gaps could be addressed
Complementing our Theory of Change, we also used a Theory U process (https://www.presencing.com/theoryu) to describe our journey as one of focusing, broadening and deepening our reflections on social justice advocacy in Ireland.
We undertook a final evaluation survey of everyone who had participated in the Initiative. These survey results will be available in August 2014. The inforgraphic below gives a summary of the results of a survey carried out as part of the final evaluation: