Additional Factors in Evaluation: Budget: Theory of Change

When an evaluation is started it is important to understand and determine the campaign’s purpose, scope and maturity.

For example:

  • A communication initiative’s core purpose might be a public health campaign to help modify an individual’s behavior like an anti-smoking, anti-drug or a fasten-your-seatbelt campaign. Or, the campaign might seek to mobilize popular support around a given issue like global warming or paid sick days, thereby motivating policymakers to react.
  • The scope of a campaign, as measured by its reach and campaign length, is also important to understand. For example, is the purpose of the campaign to effect changes at the local, state, national or international levels?
  • A final consideration is the campaign’s maturity. Campaigns can vary in length from a few days to several years. Often, campaigns evolve from a purpose of behavioral change to one of changing policy over the years. Mature campaigns might have more formal goals, but within a certain time frame of evaluation, they might be harder to gauge.

Identifying a Theory of Change

A theory of change is a representation of what needs to be in place to make a given type of change happen. A theory of change identifies key strategies that should be used. Once identified, the theory of change acts as a guide for understanding where the evaluation should focus and what outcomes can be assessed. Below is a diagram that outlines a typical theory of change for public will building campaigns.

Considering the Budget

Of course, the budget of a communications campaign is important to consider when deciding to evaluate it. For a large campaign the evaluation budget should comprise at least five percent of the total campaign budget. But, such resources are not always available, particularly in smaller, micro campaigns. Below is a series of evaluation techniques, ranked from simple and less costly, to more costly and more complex.