Re-energise your campaign – lesson from #BondConf session

I was really fortunate today to host a panel at the Bond Conference on how to ‘re-energise your campaign’. It was a great hour-long discussion between four inspiring campaigners, who are all leading really important campaigns with some new and different approaches.
It was one of those hours where I was trying to keep time, capture learnings and facilitate a discussion – needless to say I failed to time keep well, but a few lessons I took from the conversation;

  1. Build a simple structure that works for volunteerRobyn, one of the co-directors of IC Change, which has achieved remarkable success, reminded us that we need to build structures for our campaigns that work for volunteers and not the other way around. IC Change was a built on a range of volunteer roles, some long-term, some surge roles to help at busy times, and others to utilise specialist skills or knowledge.
  2. Be intentional about building relationships – at the heart of IC Change is a core team of volunteers who are working together. They’re committed to spending time building real relationships with each other. In our campaigns we need to put in the time to help people get to know each other – echoes here of the work of Hahrie Han in building social ties over meals and other social activities.
  3. Just do somethingTrica from Sum of Us shared how they often launch a campaign without having a fully agreed strategy, but they want to get a sense of how the corporate will react so put out petitions – sometimes with remarkable success rather than spend months developing the strategy. It was a theme that Robyn also picked up on that IC Change has because it volunteer-run looked to launch minimum viable proposition campaigns. There was something refreshing and exciting about just doing it!
  4. Find the pressure point – Sum of Us is about looking to find the most appropriate pressure point of their target, whats going to get them to move and respond to you. Then they design out the approach to take informed by that. Find the tactic that works to move your target. Keep experimenting if you’re original approach doesn’t work. Loads more about the approach of Sum of Us here.
  5. Build diverse and resilient coalitions – a theme across all the presentations was the importance of always looking to work with others, and while that can come with challenges working together helps campaigns to draw on each other’s strengths. For example, Rebecca from Ben + Jerry’s talked about how working with IRC meant they had access to policy knowledge and expertise. It’s about knowing what you know and what you don’t know.
  6. Be flexibleLarissa from Youth for Change reflected on how her campaigning had worked because they’d be flexible at adapting to where they were being successful, and look to go where people are to have the conversations. That could be a Whats App group, a Slack channel or something. Being too prescriptive can easily take valuable energy away.
  7. Get out and about – So Ben + Jerry’s have an advantage here as they have an Ice Cream Van, but Rebecca shared how important getting out and about to go to where people gather to have conversations about our issues. The Homecoming Tour, for example, was about going to communities and having conversations about welcoming refugees, and it was a great chance to have deeper conversations. Going offline helped to ground the campaign in realities that couldn’t be understood in a London planning meeting.
  8. Live your values – If as, Sum of Us is, you are asking your targets to live up to higher practices and values, you need to live those out. We had an important discussion about how we make sure that more diverse voices are heard in our campaigning. If our values don’t align with the work we’re doing we’re always going to be drawing energy away from our mission.
  9. Eat together – Perhaps an unintended theme throughout the presentations was the role of food at the heart of campaigning, from campaign planning over a cup of tea, to bring snacks to a meeting, to ice cream, everyone seemed to agree on the importance of food!
  10. Don’t forget the ‘why’ – a powerful reminder from Larissa that we all come into the work of campaigning because we want to change things, and if we’re feeling like our campaigns are lacking the energy they need, sometimes we need to go back to the ‘why’ we do this work and rediscover the passion that brought us to it.

If you joined the session at #BondConf I’d love to know what you’re reflections from the conversation was. 


7 campaigns that have impressed me in 2017

Christmas is a time for lists, so over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a few of mine as another year of campaigning comes to a conclusion. To kick off I wanted to share a few of the campaigns that have caught my eye in 2017.
This isn’t an awards list (there are other places you can go to recognise award-winning campaigning) and the criteria for inclusion is just that I’ve spotted (or someone else did) and I think they’ve got some interesting learning for all campaigners behind them;
1. Momentum – Whatever your views on the movement that has been the engine behind Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party, and then his almost election as Prime Minister back in June, the way the campaign has harnessed the energy behind Corbyn and deployed it effectively are outstanding.
Their lean approach, embracing initiatives like Grime for Corbyn, working with developers, activists and designers to apps like ‘Carpool’ and push out some of the most creative content on social media around the election has helped to transform UK politics. Even Conservative politicians have written admiringly about what Momentum is able to deliver.
2. Greenpeace – as the nation has been gripped by Blue Planet 2, Greenpeace has once again been able to deliver another brilliant campaign that’s got people talking about the amount of plastic we’re dumping into our oceans and creating space for a wider conversation about we can all be doing to reduce our waste. The focus on Coca-Cola, a well-known brand which is sensitive to criticism, has once again worked captured the imagination, alongside brilliant content like this film. And while Coke might still be holding out – although experience will suggest that Greenpeace rarely fail when they have a target in their sights – the wider conversation is already shifting with Government on the introduction of a bottle deposit return scheme and other companies looking to take a step to reduce the amount of plastic waste they’re producing.
3. Stop Funding Hate – While this campaign might have started in 2006, is consistent drip feed of wins has ensured it’s stayed in the public consciousness throughout the year, able to respond to continued stories of hate and division. The campaign approach is simple, focus on those companies who advertise in the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express, and get them to agree to stop paying for adverts. With companies like Lego, Body Shop, Paperchase and others agreeing to stop placing adverts in the papers the campaign effectively uses social media to create a storm that appears to shift opinion. And you know that you’re having an impact when the papers you’re targetting start to use column inches to attack you.
4. Indivisible – the election of Donald Trump has, perhaps unsurprisingly, led to the proliferation of campaigns to resist his agenda. Foremost amongst these has been Indivisible which started as a Google Doc guide about what those who resisted Donald Trumps agenda could do, but has quickly turned into a whole movement of individuals across the US, inspired to recreate the influence of the Tea Party, and rooted in what Congressional staffers know works, contacts from local electors.
A year later over 2 million people have downloaded the guide, over 5,000 groups have formed and they held tens of thousands of events. Quite a success, but another dividend of the continued campaigning to protect Obamacare, challenge the Muslim Ban, stop the tax cut, and beyond has led to a proliferation in cool tech that helps activist, like ResistBot which faxes your Congressperson from a text or 5Calls which  provides you with the 5 most important phone calls you can make from the comfort of your laptop.
5. Amnesty Football Welcome – there are a couple of campaigns that I’ve spotted this year that have looked to use the power of sport, and especially Football. Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign seems to go from the strength to strength, becoming a fixture on the agenda of all Premier League clubs each November. But it was Amnesty Football Welcomes campaign back in April that I really love. Recognising the national passion for football, and the long history many clubs have in involving refugees in their team, the campaign aimed to make that link as part of Amnesty’s wider ‘I Welcome’ campaign. Really smart approach to a sometimes challenging topic.
6. Stop Adani – I have to be honest I wasn’t aware of this campaign until I asked others for recommendations, but as Jason Mogus says few campaigns have gone from ‘almost completely losing, to almost completely winning, in just under a year’. The campaign which is about stopping a huge open coal mine in Queensland, Australia, was credited by the Economist as almost certainly swinging the result of the recent state elections, and as Jason writes in this excellent post the approach was tight theory of change – build a movement, stop the money then shift the politics. A reminder at the end of an exhausting year of campaigning that anything is possible if you have a strong, clear and effective theory of change.
7. Scrap the Cap – It’s been a year of change in UK politics, but with Brexit dominating the discussion it’s been hard to see many campaigns on other issues cut through. But one that has clearly been successful is the Royal College of Nursing Scrap the Cap campaign was one that’s managed to shift the current government agenda, with a commitment in October by the government to remove the 1% pay cap on NHS workers. The campaign has looked to harness a really nice mix of tactics all involving NHS workers, using social media and focusing on local meeting with MPs of all parties.

What campaigns have inspired or impressed you in 2017? Comment below to join the conversation.

What happened when I said 'YES' to every email from an online campaign platform?

What would happen if I just said YES. Inspired by Glyn Thomas who signed up to 100 charity emails and finishing reading Analytical Activism by David Karfp, which looks at the approaches online platforms use, I set myself a little experiment.
What would happen If I signed up to the email lists of some of the biggest campaign platforms and just said ‘Yes’ to whatever landed in my inbox?
I’m doing this because I want to learn from the best. My hypothesis – getting very scientific here – is that because the online platforms have the most resource and they rely most on emails to mobilise their supporters that they’ll be at the cutting edge of how to get me to take action again and again!
But I’m also interested in how quickly could I ascend to a super user status, who is making the user experience the easiest, what would I be asked to take action on, what’s the welcome journey like (as Glyn points out ‘The first 8 weeks are crucial to building a relationship with a new supporter, even someone who has just signed up to receive emails’) and what else I’ll discover.
The rules I’ve set myself are simple. Sign up to join the campaign via their website not via a specific action, say yes to anything that comes into my inbox that I can do, donate the smallest amount when asked, don’t do the share asks following taking action, but do everything else.
So 3 weeks ago I signed up for Sum of Us, Avaaz, 38 Degrees and WeMove.EU – the four big online platforms if you’re based here in the U.K.
So what have I found in the first few week?
1. Signing up – Really easy to do for Avaaz, Sum of Us and WeMove. Boxes on the homepage just needing key information (name, email, country) from me. 38 Degrees was more difficult – actually really difficult. The homepage had a video about Bees it wanted me to watch. Fine. I did but at the end no ask to join or take action. In the end, I found the first petition being promoted on the site (to George Osborne to only have one job!) and signed that.
2. Welcome journey – I got instant automated welcome emails from all the platforms. All with a variety of request to share via social media.
But Sum of Us was the only platform that felt like I was taking me on a ‘welcome journey’, and it was super smart. An email welcoming me and asking me to hit reply so their emails would always come into my priority inbox (see below) arrived about 2 hours later – sensible because as Glyn found that ‘there was a roughly 50/50 split between emails ending up in the priority inbox and ending up in promotions’, then another about 12 hours later welcoming me to be part of the movement.

3. Frequency of Emails – It took a couple of days for the first emails to come into my inbox but 3 weeks later I’ve received the following;

# of email Frequency
Sum of Us 20 almost daily
We Move 4 every 5 days
Avaaz 3 every 7 days
38 Degrees 2 every 10 days

Since starting the experiment we’ve had a General Election called in the UK, but Sum of Us and 38 Degrees have been the only platforms to mention that.
My sole emails from 38 Degrees they asked me to complete a survey about my priorities for the election. It’ll be interesting to see if that affects the future emails I get from them. As an aside despite ‘winning’ the campaign on George Osborne and his jobs I’ve not had any feedback that my action helped.
Avaaz went hard early on with 2 emails in 3 days, both on animal welfare campaigns, but then went dark for 2 weeks before asking me to donate.
WeMove haven’t actually asked me to take an online action yet – and to be fair to WeMove they are a whole lot smaller than the others in the test – but sent me a neat report back email, a donation request to support a day of action in May, and then invited me to get involved in that day of action in my community.
Sum of Us has definitely sent me the most emails, almost one every day of the experiment. Most have been linked to their campaign against Bayer and its merger with Monsanto – a bunch have had a focus on bees again linked to the merger. They also invited me to a webinar on the Snoopers Charter, and encourage me to register to vote (an action I didn’t take as I’m already registered to vote).
4. Types of Action – Online platforms are often criticised for focusing too much on getting people to sign petitions, but I’ve been surprised at the breadth of actions I’ve been asked to take over the last 3 weeks.
The breakdown looks like this;

Action Sign a petition, etc 12
Community Join a community event or feedback on activities 7
Donate Give money 6
Share Amplify via social media 1
Survey Share my views 2
Welcome journey Introducing me to the platform 1

Sum of Us have definitely been the most active at asking me to be a donor – within 2 days I got my first ask, then after my third action I got asked to consider becoming a regular donor – which suggest some impressive database automation. Although there was also a time when I got two donation emails within 15 minutes of each other, but they’ve also made it really easy to keep donating now I’ve signed up with 1-click giving.
We Move are the only platform to have provided feedback to me via email, and as I mentioned above they’ve been most active in getting me involved in offline activities pushing a day of action.
Sum of Us offered this really nice page telling me how my action is part of the wider campaign after I took one of the bees actions;

Sum of Us have also repeadetly asked me if I’ve got any more connection with the corporate targets I’ve been taking action towards;

While I’m intrigued by the share numbers that Avaaz throw up after an action. I’ve no idea if they are real or randomly generated;

What next? I’m planning to keep the experiment going for the next few months, I’m interested to see if I get to a point when I get an action a day from every platform. I might also throw in a few other organisations – feel free to make suggestions of who – but I really recommend anyone signs up to a few email lists. I’ve definitely seen a few things I’d like to borrow for my own campaigning.

Six campaigns that I learnt from in 2016

Let’s be honest. 2016 hasn’t been a great year, and soon it’ll be over! Much of the talk I’ve seen has been dominated by learning from the big political campaigns of the year (which I’ve also written about here)
But a few others campaigns have caught my eye – some because they’ve made the most of the political environment that we’re in here in the UK. Others because I like the tactics or approaches they’re used.
Here are a few that I’d encourage you to check out and learn from;
1. Ratifying the Istanbul Convention – getting a Private Members Bill to pass through Parliament isn’t simple – even when we had the whole of the international development community pushing to enshrine an existing manifesto commitment winning the Turn Up Save Lives campaign wasn’t easy. So IC Change, a volunteer group pushing for the government to adopt the Istanbul Convention, which is the most comprehensive legal framework that exists to tackle violence against women and girls, has done something amazing.
They got their issue on the agenda and through building a coalition, and then working to effectively mobilise SNP MPs to drive support for the Bill, with support from Labour and Conservative MP. Thanks to their efforts they’ve got the Private Members Bill through it’s second reading in the House of Commons. They’ve still got more to do, but it’s inspiring nevertheless, and a example loads of ‘professional’ campaigners could learn from.
2. Ban Microbeads – These small plastic beads commonly found in toothpaste and exfoliating body scrubs which damage the environment. Organisations like Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, Greenpeace UK, and the Marine Conservation Society have pushed the government to introduce a ban that comes into force at the start of 2017.
By working with MPs on key Parliamentary committees to come out in support (in this campaigns the Environmental Audit Committee) that alongside demonstrating significant public support, meant that it was early announcement under the new Government to introduce a ban. It shows that although the official opposition might not be as functional as many would like to see it, working with effective backbench MPs, who know how to make thing happen, can alongside public pressure can yield results.
3. Child Refugees full disclosure here, some of those I work with at Save the Children won an award for this campaign a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think the campaign to get the Dubs Amendment, to bring  unaccompanied minors to the UK, adopted can’t feature in my list.
Anyone campaigning on refugees in 2016 has been doing so in a headwind of negative media, but this a mix of savvy parliamentary engagement – in this case using the small majority the government has by finding Conservative MPs who opposed the governments position, engaging the House of Lords, working with unusual media allies (in this case the Daily Mail) and targeted campaigning actions delivered results.
If those 3 campaigns have demonstrated how to make change in the current political environment, the next 2 have demonstrated some smart use of tactics;
4. Spendrise – I’ve written about this site before, and while it’s only got going this year, I really like the simple concept which gets those who want to see change to pledge to spend money with a particular retailer if they take action – check out to see how it works for getting Starbucks to ensure it’s famous red cups are recyclable. During a time when people are increasingly asking questions about the role of clicktivism I think the concept potentially has millage.
5. – I’ve not seen a better website this year which allows you to look at the impact of the current governments cuts on a particular subject. Developed by the NUT and ATL, the site lets you look at how the reduction in education spending will impact your local schools, and then has a really nice user experience to get you to take action. The campaign might not have (yet) succeeded but the personalisation could help to unleash an army of parental activist.
Finally, a campaign that has inspired from afar;
6. #NoDAPL #StandingRock #WaterProtectors – led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, thousands gathered in North Dakota in an unprecedented action, communicating using Facebook Live, building support and winning (for now). It builds on the success of the Stop Keystone XL campaign which I wrote about here. Both reminders that even when it seems unlikely we can win.

To petition or not to petition

One of the fun parts of my job is that occasionally people come to me to ask for advice about the best campaigning tactic to use. (Let me know if I can bring my campaign advice clinic to you – I’m serious).
A few months ago, an organisation approached me asking if they should launch a petition for their latest campaign. Its a good question, in the days when petitions with 200,000 names in hours feels like a regular occurrence, where to start can appear daunting.
Here are a few thoughts that I shared.
1. It’s not simply about the numbers – Over the last few years we’ve been experience an petition arms race. Some groups are able to rapidly mobilise 100,000s of people to sign a petition. Looking at those numbers it can feel intimidating to start a petition, but when it comes to petitions, size doesn’t always matter.
Instead its about being clear about what your looking to demonstrate with the petition, a well targeted petition with a few thousand names can also be effective, or adopting a more creative approach which Scope have used brilliantly. Having said that, petitions that linger on a few thousand names probably aren’t the most effective way of influencing change.
2. Remember a petition is just a tactic – campaigning isn’t just about getting more names on a petition, its about change and other tactics are available. Identify and be clear what role your petition is going to have in delivering your change outcome. Saying, we’re doing it because we’ve always done it, isn’t an especially good reason.
Be clear are you looking for your petition to put the issue on the agenda by showing public support, or providing a target with a public mandate to do something (‘over 20,000 people have called on me to’) or demonstrate solidarity with those impacted by a policy change, or something else.
Remember opportunity cost, I’m yet to find a campaign that isn’t resource constrained. So if you decide to do a petition then you need to consider what tactic or tactics you can’t deploy as a result. Check you can’t achieve your outcome through other means.
3. Be clear on how long you want to run the petition for – I think you get two types of petitions at the moment, the ‘short-term and focused’ petition which is linked to a specific moment or policy change that your looking for (this is the bread and butter of platforms like and will be most effective if it can highlight a particular individual your looking to target, or the ‘long term and broad’ petition which can run over several months, which can have a wider policy ask, the One Campaign use these really well.
Both can have a role, the later can be repackaged to respond to different opportunities, while the former probably has a much tighter shelf life but can help to provide a opportunity for people to respond to something in the news.
4. If you do it, do it well – There is a not-so-secret source behind the formula that 38 Degrees, Avaaz and use. They show a clear link between the petition and the result your looking for.
So be specific and realistic in what your asking for, make the most of an crisistunity (that might mean holding back launching your petition until a moment when the media is interested in your issue), and have a compelling reader focused theory of change (if you do this, then we can do this, which means this will happen). The model of ensuring a strong personal narrative from the petition starter is also a brilliant approach.
5. Make it easy to sign – remember not everyone is going to sign on to your petition from a desktop computer. Make sure your petition is mobile friendly, or go old school and have it available as a paper petition as well. Check that you’ve thought about the supporter journey after they’ve signed your petition. Can you use the signer to be a multiplier? When will you feedback to them about the impact it’s having? Can you invite them to take another action on your behalf? But please, and I’m a purest on this, don’t just run the petition to collect names for your next fundraising push.
6. It’s what you do with it that matters – Think about how you use the petition to leverage more profile for your campaign. The approach ensure that the petition has at least 3 media moments, the launch, when it hits a significant number and then the handover. Make sure your plan a handover that will lead to a great photo which you can use in the media or with supporters, or use hitting a sigificant number to launch a policy briefing off the back of it.

Here's "cow" you do it. Learning from #MilkPrice campaign

Growing up watching the Tour de France I learnt from an early age that farmers, well French farmers, are good campaigners. Your average Tour in the 1990s wasn’t compete with farmers and tractors delaying a stage.
There British brethren haven’t been as visible, but over the last few weeks the success of dairy farmers in getting supermarkets to increase the price the pay for milk has been a summer campaign success, and from what I can tell all without the need for an email petition.
It’s been an interesting campaign to follow and I’ve been struck by a few lessons for all campaigners from it.
1 – Pick the right target – the farmers haven’t focused on all supermarkets but a handful (Morrissons and Asda) that aren’t paying a fair price. It’s a smart approach focusing on brands that are in a very competitive market and don’t want to be seen to lose the favour of customers. By playing the supermarkets off against each other they’ve created a virtuous cycle where no retailer wants to be caught out. Interesting now they’ve won the first round, all the supermarkets have agreed to pay more, the asks and target of the campaign aren’t nearly as clear but they’ve got the momentum of a quick win.
2. Think about the values behind your messages – listen to any of the protesting farmer and, yes there are messages about the importance of preserving our rural way of life and protecting our national food security, but it’s also about fairness and hard working farmers being bullied by the profit driven supermarkets. They’re powerful messages that will resonate with many whatever their political persuasion. It’s a smart communications strategy.
3. Produce a great image – Who can’t fail to find both the images of farmers buying up all the milk in a store with the #milktrolleychallenge or even better taking a cow into a supermarket an intriguing and powerful image. Firstly through social media and then through broadcast media it’s a great image to fill the media in the traditionally quiet ‘silly season’.
4. Find authentic spokespeople – I’ve actually no idea if any specific organisation is behind the campaign (I’m assuming it’s the NFU or similar) but that’s in part because everyone I’ve heard interviewed for the campaign is a farmer, so the message is direct from the (ahem) horses mouth. What the campaign has lost in professional polish it’s gained from an authentic and directly affected voice.

What happens when you handover a campaign postcard?

A while ago, one of my colleagues got to speak to a former ministerial Special Advisor (SPAD) to find out what really happens to all those campaign postcards we send to a government department.
My experience from running the Campaign Totals project over the last few years indicates that every department does things slightly differently, but here are five useful reflections from that conversation;
1. All correspondence goes to the correspondence unit. There’s no mechanism to make anyone outside the unit aware of it. However SPADs and Ministers can enquire about what the public’s writing in about, and SPADs in particular are likely to make sure they do as a good way to keep in touch.
2. Ministers will sign and read replies to letters or emails from MPs, and usually from directors of NGOs (sometimes from other senior staff) and will also read the incoming correspondence at the same time. That’s the only correspondence they’ll usually see.
3. The department may choose to post a reply to a public campaign on its website, usually if a SPAD says they should. That’s a good way to see what they think is worth taking notice of.
4. It works well for an NGO CEO to write to a minister to say how many campaign messages they’ve received and say what they’re asking the minister to do.
5. Hand-ins are a very good way to get a minister’s attention, if something is personally handed over to them. They’re more likely to agree if they think the photo will get good media coverage, and if there’s a celebrity involved, or someone who is seen as a celebrity by a particular audience. A hand-in with no minister present won’t come to a minister’s attention (unless you got media coverage for it).
What other insights do readers of the blog have about how to ensure your campaign postcards get noticed after a handover? 

Why reporting back matters….

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
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 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 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.

Looking beyond the usual corporate suspects

I was struck by this comment in a great post by David Ritter on campaigning trends that corporates need to be ready to respond to in the coming year;

NGOs are increasingly looking beyond the usual corporate suspects for campaign targets.

Ritter goes on to cite the example of ‘the global management consultancy McKinsey has been targeted by Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation for its ‘bad influence’ on deforestation. In McKinsey’s case – and to be brutally frank – for a global management consultancy that makes its living telling other people what to do, they’ve made a real mess out of how they have responded to being a campaign target.
Another great example of this approach, has been the campaigning that Sum Of Us have been doing toward the corporates that support the work of the Heartland Institute, a US think tank that has spent millions promoting climate scepticism.
The online movement has  focused on those corporates that fund the foundation and seen a number respond as a result putting real pressure on the ongoing funding of the Institute. It’s a great campaign, using an innovative approach which exposing the large sums that corporates spend rather than simply opposing the activities of the Institute, which would likely be futile.
I think campaigners could learn from both examples. What other examples of  campaigning beyond the usual corporate suspects have impressed you?

Campaign Totals 2012

On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing the first results this years campaigns totals survey.  Like last year I’ve been using Freedom of Information to find out how many campaign actions different government departments receive each year.
Taken from was amazed by the response that I got last year, with the results covered in Third Sector magazine and numerous campaigners getting in touch to say how helpful they’d found the information in their own internal benchmarking. I hope that this year results will prove helpful for campaigner from across the UK.
As in 2011, this year I’ve requested the information from all Whitehall departments covering the period 1st May 2011 to 1st May 2012. I’ve asked each department to provide the following;

  • The total number of campaign letters, postcards and emails that appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign you received from 1st May 2011 to 1st May 2012.
  • The breakdown of these numbers by delivery method (letter, postcard and email).
  • A breakdown by topic and/or organisation(s) where you received more than 500 items of correspondence (through any delivery method) that appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign in the period defined above.

At the end of the process, when I’ve got results from the majority of the 20+ government departments I’ve approached I should be in a position to share a total number of actions generated to Whitehall in the last 12 months and the split between e-actions and offline actions.
This year I’m also going to be able to try to define a ‘par’ score for each government department – based on the information over the last 2 years I want to find out what like in golf, the number of actions that a department my expect to receive and therefore which campaigns are able to break through this to show real traction.
I’m also going to be interested to see what impact online campaign platforms have had in the campaign environment. Last year Avaaz showed up in the top 15, but 38 Degrees didn’t, I wonder if the focus on the NHS Bill has changed this, and what impact has the launch of in the UK has had on the totals.
It’ll also be fascinating if the launch of the No10 petition site has had an impact on the number of actions. Is it a site that’s bringing more organisations and individuals into taking campaigning action, or is it displacing actions from more traditional methods. My sense is that most campaigning organisations haven’t really embraced this tool, so perhaps this has increased the overall total.