Campaigners: 5 priorities for your diary in 2016

First day back in the office? By now you’ve probably got through your email, removed the tinsel from around your computer screen and avoided the cakes that will see the end of your new year resolution..
But before you the newness of the year disappears, here are 5 further suggestions of things you might want to be booking into your diary to help you be a better campaigner in 2016.
1. Attend some training –  If you’re in the UK, then you’re fortunate to have some great training courses available to you – they’re great opportunities to get out of the office and spend some dedicated time thinking about what you do. Starting out in your campaigning career then I highly recommend Campaign Bootcamp (disclaimer I helped to set up Bootcamp), here is what people have to say about the training.
At Bond, we’ve just launched two new courses for 2016 both designed to help take your advocacy to the next level. Developing an Advocacy Strategy is a day long course designed to help you to do just that, while How Change Happens is for experienced campaigners looking to improve the strategic clarity and effectiveness of their work. Needless to say I recommend both (and I’d love your ideas on what other training would be useful for campaigners).
If you’re interested in how to develop activist within your organisations, I’m excited to say that in late March I’m helping to host a series of events with US academic and activist Hahrie Han who wrote the book on this. More to follow soon.
2. Plan to get out of your bubble – I’m feeling like a broken record on this one, but I’m convinced that it’s critical for effective campaigning – my contention is we spend too much time talking to those who agree with us and are deeply engaged in our issue/concern – the reality is that most people have a tiny window to engage in our issue so getting out of the bubble and finding out how your issue will play with the residents of Corby (or wherever) is helpful for focusing and sharpening your messaging, and perhaps provide fresh focus for the direction of your campaign (see more here).
It’s one of Roger Harding from Shelter’s key learning from his work on housing – there he got his team spending time on high streets asking for feedback on adverts they were looking to run.  You don’t need to go far to do this, for example plan to take time to read the newspapers or watch the shows that your target audience are reading, or volunteer to join on of your activist groups as they run a street stall.
3. Book in a Think Break – Last year I suggested that building in time to reflect. I’ve been terrible at doing this in 2015, but I’m trying again inspired by the idea of scheduling a quarterly ‘Think Break’ which I picked up on Chris Bailey’s Life of Productivity blog. The idea is that once a quarter you take  one day off to think deeply about your work. I reckon it’s worth a go.
This webinar with blogger and author Beth Kanter on A Happy Healthy Nonprofit: 10 Tips for Impact without Burnout on Thursday 14th Jan also looks good.
4. Start a campaign – I appreciate not everyone can do this – it’s not something you can schedule in to do in a lunch break. But running a local campaign in my community to get my local council to agree to welcome at least 10 refugee families was one of the most enjoyable campaigning experiences I’ve had in a long time. It reconnected me with the passion and energy I get from activism. Using platforms like 38 Degrees or make it super easy to do.
5. Let me come and hangout your team – Over the last year I’ve spoken on topics as diverse as learning from the Turn Up Save Lives campaign, how to make the most of your campaign petition, how a trustee board can best support campaigning, the secrets of effective coalitions and much more besides. It’s something I really enjoy doing, so if you’re looking for someone to speak to your team, department or conference please get in touch. Hell, if you just want to meet up for coffee to chat about campaigning let me know.
Last year I shared some advice on resolutions you should follow to make you a better campaigner. They’re still as useful for the next 12 months as they have been from the last 12 months! It included taking time to read, if it’s helpful I’ve shared my feedly collection of activism blogs, where I get many of my ideas available, here.

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