Policy Development’s Two Way Street model requires two core competencies:Analytic Services and Program Planning. But to build capacity for the long term,Organizational Development skills are also necessary. Finally, proper Monitoring and Evaluation will ensure accountability and help capture the full impact of the PD intervention and its client’s new outcomes.
Analytic services are fundamental to PD. PD staff are experienced in analyzing social development policy impact for disparate groups and bringing those ideas to the most influential fora.
But any appropriate analysis will begin with listening and learning. PD will never impose policy positions on its clients. Rather, an initial needs assessment will be followed by field visits, interviews with line staff and senior staff, focus groups, and (where appropriate) board interaction.
These “listening and learning” activities are necessary for both directions of the Two Way Street model. The first direction — articulating client interests for policy debates — can’t happen without finding out what the clients’ interests are. The second direction — integrating policy knowledge into program planning — won’t stick unless staff, from top to bottom, are engaged and informing the process throughout.
While the general need for technical capacity is clear, PD believes both that many small organizations lack specific analytical and technical skills to augment their ability to interact with the policy domain, and that large organizations do not effectively or coherently extract ground-level knowledge for use in policy advocacy or policy making.
To illustrate the importance of this component, consider the following example: Many grass-roots community organizations struggle to participate in the formulation and debate surrounding internationally funded development projects. The core of the PD model would contribute the economic and political skills, language, and method necessary to communicate to international organizations, governments and funding agencies. By providing often absent technical capacity (macroeconomic and economic development expertise) to engage project planners, PD can help ensure that fewer opportunities will be lost to participate in the planning process or in project roll-out.
Program planning is a skill that will drive the second direction of the Two Way Street — using new policy knowledge to augment existing direct services. Depending on the findings of the policy research, existing direct service programs may benefit from minor or major changes. As an example: social services agencies need to keep abreast of changing welfare legislation in order to steer their clients in the right direction. Their single mother clients need to be informed that their benefits may end if they do not find work soon. The agency also knows that if a significant group of their female clients are at work, childcare will thus become a serious concern. The need to develop completely new projects — to create new childcare services for single parents, for example — may be the result of collaborative policy research and program planning.
PD staff have relevant experience and expertise in non-profit management and program planning. Collaborative program planning based on new policy knowledge will help busy program and administrative staff improve their projects, and help organization leaders make strategic directions about their program portfolio.
PD will not have done its job if, after the initial six to eight month intervention, client organizations are not able perform many of these activities independently. In addition to conducting policy analysis collaboratively, communicating it externally, and applying it internally, PD will build the client organization’s ability to integrate and sustain these capacities. But what does this entail?
The following kinds of support will help client organizations restructure and expand into its new capacity smoothly and effectively:
- Create new functional distinctions
- Develop new fundraising strategies
- Enhance human resources (recruitment and training)
- Build communications skills (mass media, the policy community, the NGO sector)
- Get organization-wide buy-in for these changes
The new analytic capacity will also need to be adapted into the organization’s character and culture, represented in its public image, and marketed in its communications materials.
Policy Development’s goal is to transfer the greatest degree of knowledge and skill possible to its client organizations during the course of a project. Accepting, however, the nature of advisory work, sustaining successful policy activity will sometimes necessitate on-going support.
PD envisages this support to include a combination of two factors. One, a cumulative network of former clients (“PD Alums”) will serve as the basis for maintenance of contacts and for the informal dissemination of knowledge. Two, PD can provide continued low-scale support for expertise-driven projects.
These two aspects of follow-up services allow clients to make the most of their new capacities. Former clients will have access to a network of colleagues undertaking similar challenges, and they will also have access to a resource of expertise normally unavailable to smaller organizations.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Policy Development is committed to ensuring its client’s, and thereby its own, success. The PD model has clear results-based indicators, which make it possible to measure PD efficacy and client success. The following indicators, tailored to the objectives of the Two Way Street model, help capture successes for outside audiences, but they are also good management tools for self-correction.
Informing Policy Debate Indicators:
- Has the organization employed its first-hand experience in formulating policy analyses and policy recommendations?
- Are the organization’s ideas circulating in effective policy arena (local, state, federal, UN, World Bank, foreign governments, EU, corporate, and others)?
- Do any pieces of formal policy, legislation, or administrative regulation draw directly on the organization’s work?
- Has the policy environment become more receptive for the organization’s clients or made the organization’s work more effective?
Program Planning Indicators:
- Have client organization’s programs been altered or validated in deference to new knowledge of policy changes or trends?
- Are program managers and line staff sufficiently aware of the policy environment of their work?
- Are programs more effective? Are clients’ target populations benefiting as a result of planning based on policy analysis?
- Is the client organization’s policy analysis becoming a resource for other organizations doing similar work, but who may lack the capacity to conduct their own analysis?
These questions need to be answered thoughtfully prior to PD implementation as a benchmark, at biannual increments during implementation, at the intervention’s formal conclusion, and annually for a number of years subsequent to the intervention. For PD and its client organizations, this monitoring and evaluation methodology is an internal management tool as well as a template for reporting policy impact.