The Value Iceberg: Weighing the Benefits of Advocacy and Campaigning

Better Evaluation

By Rhonda Schlangen and Jim Coe

In this paper, Jim Coe and I discuss how, in value terms, advocacy is an iceberg. The most significant benefits are often submerged: difficult to measure, to monetize, and sometimes even to see.

Efforts to measure, quantify and compare the ”value” of different interventions have become popular as a way for social change organizations to decide how to use their time and money. However, such approaches – unless very carefully designed – risk disadvantaging advocacy relative to more direct interventions, such as providing services, or visible “quick wins.”

This is problematic because, through the way it addresses barriers to change, advocacy has the potential to achieve or unlock disproportionate results. It’s fundamentally about power: advocacy addresses all the difficult stuff that isn’t susceptible to easy or settled resolution. It’s inherently more speculative than direct interventions, and the benefits are less easily articulated.

Advocacy and the Value Iceberg cover with image of iceberg
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