‘Proxy reporting’

The final obstacle that I have observed is the internal pressure to develop key performance indicators for advocacy campaigns.

Now don’t get me wrong – targets can be very important for advocacy campaigns at the right times of the campaigning cycle. But rigid targets often set for years to come with no flexibility to allow for external changes can be the road to madness.

If one were building a hospital one might develop targets over a three-year period of the number of people you were looking to support; it would be helpful to have such a target to see if you were making the desired progress.

But if you were running an advocacy campaign to set your targets for the next three years would be challenging, and you may well end up developing what I would call ‘proxy indicators’. As you would not be too sure of how your campaign might develop over three years and what external changes you might be exposed to, if you were under pressure to develop indicators, you might then pick ‘proxy indicators’.

So you might say you want to contact 10% of MPs each year. For the purposes of the indicator this would be fine; you could monitor the performance and report each quarter on the number of MPs contacted. Yet to what point? Pressure to agree an indicator might well lead you to investing time and energy into an activity that was not required by the campaign. You would be contacting MPs when in fact your time might be much better off doing something totally different.

So what is the best way to respond to pressure to develop such ‘proxy indicators’?

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