Learning from the 'Countdown to Copenhagen' campaign

Evaluation might be the last step in the advocacy cycle, but from my experience it’s often the one that we’re quickest to overlook, moving onto the next campaign as opposed  to spending time reflecting on what’s happened.
It’s great to see Christian Aid make an evaluation of their ‘Countdown to Copenhagen’ campaign available online for others to learn from, as well as a management response to it.
It is an interesting (and short) read which gives an insight into the campaigning that the organisation did in the run up to the critical climate talks in December 2009.
It’s full of useful lessons for any campaign, and I hope it might encourage other agencies to make similar documents available. Here are the 5 things that I’m taking away;
1 – External moments need to be seen as commas in a campaign as opposed to full-stops. The evaluation makes a number of references for the need for the COP meeting in Copenhagen to be seen as a key moment in the ‘trajectory of the campaign‘ as opposed to the end of it. A good reminder that we can become too focused on an external moment and overlook the longer process of change that will be needed whatever the outcome of it.
2 – Involvement and participation of partners takes time. The report rightly recognises the way that the campaign looked to engage southern partners, saying ‘Christian Aid is clearly close to southern advocacy groups and networks and more ‘true’ to their approach and position than others‘ but also acknowledges the time that it can take to ensure effective participation from southern partners and allies which mean that time needs to be built-in to do this otherwise this engagement doesn’t become meaningful.
3 – Building in space for learning. It’s often the case in a busy campaign that it can be hard to feel that you have the space to think about what’s happening  in the external environment. The evaluation suggests that time needs to be protected to ‘allow for reflection to take place‘ and ensuring the tools are in place to capture progress and achievement. A good reminder for anyone who hasn’t taken the time to review where their campaign is at recently.
4 – Know your core audience – The evaluation asks why the campaign ‘under-utilised church constituencies‘. I don’t know the reasons this decision was taken, but it seems to me this might have been a missed opportunity for an organisation that draws its support primarily from churchgoers. For me, it’s a reminder of being sure of the core audiences that your organisation can reach.
5 – Seeing the global – The report has lots of praise for the work that Christian Aid did with allies in EU recognising that ‘Countdown to Copenhagen was a unique advocacy initiative at the European level in terms of both the scale and sustained nature of joint working amongst Aprodev’ and encouraging a broader focus looking towards the US and others. A lesson in the rapidly changing nature of global decision-making and the need to be much more proactive at looking beyond the UK in the alliances we build.
What have you learnt from this evaluation? Have you seen other organisations make evaluations available online?
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