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Building Metrics into Advocacy Strategies

The progress of advocacy campaigns is often difficult to measure until the end when legislation is passed, a regulation is implemented, or some other outcome is ultimately determined. However, metrics throughout the campaign can help to better understand both progress and potential, while also signaling a need to pivot on tactics and revisit the strategy. Metrics can serve as an early warning system for problems that may exist and a solid validator when things are moving forward.

Do Not Measure Activity, Measure Performance: Even more important than metrics that work, is knowing the metrics that do not work (largely because they are what most advocacy campaigns are currently using). It is important that you measure progress, not activity. The number of meetings held, for example, does not inform advocacy performance unless the end goal is broad education without an actual “ask.” An issue might be resolved in one meeting or one hundred meetings, so it is important that measurement remains focused on performance indicators, not simply a meeting tracker.

Be Careful Using Time-Based Metrics: One thing advocates really have no control over (and little ability to influence) are Congressional, White House, or Agency timelines. Having a metric that measures movement of an issue based on a strict timeline is not realistic. Effective advocacy campaigns are flexible around what they cannot control - including time.

Identify Progress-Related Metrics: Whatever the end goal is, identify metrics based on progress. If the goal is to pass a bill, progress could include securing a sponsor, introduction, cosponsors, movement in committee, passage on the floor, etc. If the goal is focused on a regulatory issue, progress could include securing champions, letters sent from Capitol Hill, questions asked during a committee hearing, action by the Administration, etc. If the end goal is clear, measurement around progress should be easy.

Include Bipartisan Sentiment as a Metric: There is nothing that will be signed into law under the existing political landscape that does not have bipartisan support. If an effort has no bipartisan support, it is not likely to get very far. Using bipartisanship as a metric helps ensure your effort is doable (with few exceptions).


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