There are two stages to M&E:
1) ongoing monitoring, and
2) post-campaign evaluation.
Many campaigns, both online or offline, fail to recognise the importance of these two stages. As such, there remains a gap in understanding as to the most successful ways of influencing the behaviour of certain audiences. The measurement of your campaign does not have to be as complex or arduous as might be assumed, and even simple monitoring and evaluation efforts can produce useful and meaningful insights.
In 2017, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) produced the Counter-Narrative Monitoring and Evaluation Handbook, which details the many ways a campaigner can effectively integrate monitoring and evaluation into their campaigns. We strongly urge you to take a look through this, and apply as much of it as you can to your campaign.
Why should you monitor and evaluate?
While many organisations around the world are carrying out campaigns to respond to challenges created by hateful, violent and extremist groups, those applying effective monitoring and evaluation practices remains limited. Unfortunately, many campaigners do not evaluate their campaigns, or conduct a limited and surface level evaluation after their campaign, as opposed to considering it throughout the design and delivery phases.
There are many factors that can deter campaigners from undertaking effective evaluations, from tight delivery time-frames and a lack of evaluation expertise or confidence, to insufficient public or private sector support or funding.
The lack of effective monitoring and evaluation means there is limited knowledge about the effectiveness of many campaigns, especially within those that counter extremist messaging and narratives. It also means that many powerful campaigns do not always receive the necessary and deserved long-term funding or support.
It is vital for your campaign to embed monitoring and evaluation throughout. Not only is it necessary to measure the success of your campaign, but it will also put you in the strongest of positions when applying for funding from governments, foundations or the private sector.
Monitoring your campaign’s impact indicators will help you track its progress. Any adjustments you make to the campaign content or tactics, based on the monitoring, should be recorded and explained. The knowledge gained from this iterative process can help to maintain the progression of your campaign, and inform future work you or other campaigners may carry out. It will also be valuable for potential funders to see that you have a built-in process for feeding ongoing campaign insights back into the delivery.
Your objectives are the targets you will evaluate your campaign against once it has concluded. If you have successfully achieved your objectives, you should be able to illustrate this by explaining how the tactics you used were successful (based on the ongoing monitoring of impact indicators), and how these tactics then fed upwards, logically, to your objectives.
Avoid vanity metrics and keep your integrity! Some campaigns present metrics of success that are not true reflections of impact. This can either be due to a lack of understanding of what constitutes impact, or a deliberate attempt to make the campaign look more successful than it was. There are many examples of organisations claiming to have reached millions of people with their campaigns, yet failing to prove whether or not these people were the target audience and failing to show any evidence of actual engagement or impact. It is so important to be honest and accurate in your impact evaluation and then presentation.