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Evaluating power building: Concepts and considerations for advocacy evaluators

Power is a fundamental dimension of social change that evaluators regularly overlook. To evaluate power effectively, the evaluation field needs a necessary reorientation in understandings of social change goals, outcomes, strategies, and actors. A focus on power is a missing component in advocacy evaluation and represents a paradigm shift for advocacy evaluators. This article explores the theoretical contributions and methodological considerations of evaluating power, drawing from our experience evaluating nine community organizations’ power-building work focused on economic justice policy reforms. We conclude that four considerations can reorient evaluations to the role of power: (1) grounding power evaluations in equitable evaluation, (2) expanding the scope of evaluations beyond a focus on policy wins to examine individual and collective liberation, (3) incorporating frameworks that acknowledge and assess the iterative and cyclical nature of power building, and (4) clarifying the unit of analysis to consider how a wide array of actors build and wield power. Read the full article in New Directions in Evaluation.

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