A couple of timely reminders about why feeding back on the success (or otherwise) of our campaigns is so important.
Firstly, the findings of a substantive piece of research on ‘Understanding public attitudes to aid and development’ from the thinktanks ODI and IPPR.
As the Campaigns Totals work that I’ve carried out over the last few years shows, the development sector in the UK has some of the most active campaigning departments generated hundreds of thousands of actions every year. In light of that, the findings from a number of focus groups across the country on what people thought about development and aid are important.
While the report is reflecting on all the communications that have come from the sector of which campaigning is only part, the researchers found a new trend that highlights the importance of sharing stories of success, including in our campaigning is as important in helping to demonstrate that we are making a difference, even if the direct causality is hard to show.
But something polling and surveys have not highlighted to date is the extent to which some of the communications and fundraising images NGOs and governments use may have contributed to public scepticism – the repeated use of images that show people living in desperate need has created an impression that very little has changed over the past few decades.
The researchers goes onto suggest that;
The dissatisfaction expressed with the more simple narratives often communicated today – and the relatively undeveloped understanding they have fostered – should provide food for thought for policymakers and those engaged in advocacy on these issues
While the challenges from the report need to be taken on by more than just those involved in advocacy campaigning within the development sector, I think it presents a clear challenge for any sector of the danger of repeatedly asking people to take action without actively feeding back on the impact that their actions have had can have.
Secondly, was anoter great email from the team at SumOfUs.org.
Sadly I can’t find a copy of the email on the web anywhere, but the message which was entitled ‘OFFICIAL REPORT-BACK: April-June‘ was an excellent example, taking me through the 6 or so key campaigns that SumOfUs.org had been behind over the last few months and summarising the impact that the movement has had.
It was an impressive and empowering read, honest as to the reasons why some of the campaigns hadn’t succeeded but also clear about the difference action had made. I’ve pasted the first few paragraphs below;
Our tiny team (just 5 people!) can’t take on these corporations on our own. But when the whole SumOfUs.org community — over 680,000 conscientious consumers around the world — comes together, corporations sit up and take notice, and magical things can happen.
All told, we’ve taken an astounding 2,655,793 actions since our inception just six months ago. And lately we’ve won some big campaigns — like driving out more than half of all corporate funding for the climate-denying Heartland Institute.
So, read on below and see more of what we’ve accomplished together!
It’s a great example of how to do feedback well, and given the findings of the IPPR/ODI report a timely reminder of the importance of doing it.