November 21, 2017
The fifth entry of our series featuring Voqal’s recent strategic review of its philanthropic investments to address money in politics focuses on the need to develop effective measurement tools and benchmarks. Missed last week’s entry? Read it now to learn how leveraging extensive media and technology expertise and relationships can lead to more effective grant-making in the money in politics realm.
Recommendation 5: Develop better measurement tools and benchmarks.
At best, work in the policy advocacy arena is difficult to measure. Although Voqal has tried to improve grantee reporting questionnaires, there is a strong tendency for grantees to report on activities and outputs as opposed to outcomes. Voqal may wish to ask grantees directly, “what changed relative to the issue you are working on because of this grant?” or some other question that better gets at impact and the contribution of Voqal’s funding to specific outcomes.
Furthermore, if Voqal’s goal is to affect or demonstrate changes in public beliefs, attitudes and discourse, it will need to think about how to measure such shifts. The data is not currently available and thus it was difficult to meaningfully attribute any contribution by Voqal to this advocacy outcome (which doesn’t mean there wasn’t a shift because of some of the grantees’ work, just that currently there are no means of verifying it).
It is clear further work (and possibly investment of resources) is needed in this area.
Want to take a deeper dive into Voqal’s work to reduce the influence of money in politics? Download the Taking Money Out of Politics: A Weighty Lift and Balancing the Scales: The Fight for Our Democracy reports.