If you’ve ever had to translate policy work into the urgent, human narrative of social change, this roadmap from Sarah Jane Staats and Todd Moss of Energy for Growth Hub can help you. Some of their humble, practical insights that I especially recommend include:

  • Policy influence isn’t “direct, straightforward, or predictable.” Multiple factors are in play. We “influence” and help “instigate” change. We’re not the single cause.
  • As a result, “attribution is messy.” Policy ideas, even the best most impactful ones, don’t usually have clear KPIs like birth rates, graduation rates, or dollars saved.
  • To assess effective policy proposals, we can invest more in “tracking demand from policymakers.” To understand the “incentives and timelines” of decision-makers should be a central part of policy development.

I think the third point about demand is my favorite. It sounds obvious that tracking demand and measuring uptake within our sector is part of policy advocacy, but by focusing on these “culture” metrics, we can save a lot of time and communications dollars and (my words here, not the authors’) make design thinking and political economy more central to our internal conversations.

Thanks also to Sarah Jane for her shoutout to our prior work on capacity, culture and donor realities when we tell impact stories. For more on that, see “The Story Behind the Story,” and Sarah Jane’s related blog post.

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