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COVID-19 and Campaigning – a summary

Like everyone else, the last couple of weeks have been very different to what I expected or imagined, and blogging hasn’t been a priority.

But one of the things that I’ve found myself continually grateful for is how so many individuals and organisations have been so generous in sharing their thoughts, ideas, advice, and help as we try to make sense of what’s happening – and that meant my inbox has been bursting with unread emails.

It’s taken a couple of weeks to stop and look through them all, so if you’re feeling the same I thought it might be useful to do a summary – a summary of summaries if you like – and I’ll try not to use the word ‘pivot’ once!

1. We need campaigning more than ever during the coronavirus crisis – The team at Mobilisation Lab have, as always, been super attentive to how they can help campaigners, convening community conversations to dig into the issues – I’m looking forward to seeing more of their thinking. This is a really good summary of their thinking, with the advice that every campaigner and social change organisation needs to reassess its existing analyses, strategies, and tactics, and the suggestion that means;

  1. Walk away from last month’s theory of change.
  2. Thinking outside of the (digital) box.
  3. Changemakers can do more with less—through people-centered design.
  4. The impact of the digital divide is greater than ever.

2. An abundance of tactics Beautiful Trouble’s irreverent guide to activism in the time of pandemic makes a great read, and as you’d expect from a collective that is known for helping to highlight new tactics and approaches, the article is full of ideas of just – as well as sage advice about how to use timeless campaign theories.

If you’re looking for inspiration then the Climate Strikers are one of the campaigns who’ve adapted quickly, for example in South Asia they’re switching to focusing on lawsuits and to target companies and banks or you can watch this livestream to get more of a sense of their thinking in Europe. 

3. The impact on organising – many of us have been looking at focusing more on relational organising, and when we’re in lockdown it’s hard, but this helpful and practical piece from the team at M+R and 360 Campaigns, both agencies in the US have some practical advice – the recommendations to build community and curate a digital “speaker series seem sage to me at the moment, before looking to move towards taking in-person tactics online in the future, like digital lobby days. 

4. Digital organising when we are physically isolating – Rachel Phan and the team at New/Mode have shared ideas for those looking to do digital organising, much of it has similarities with M+R’s advice, with a big focus on listening to and keeping connected with your community, and getting creative and try different tools and ways to engage – a 

5. Proven tactics and approaches for fundraising – the superstar team at Forward Action have also been super generous, sharing loads of their accumulated knowledge into this 3 part series on digital mobilisation – with ideas for all organisations to look into whatever your size. At times when fundraising budgets are undoubtedly tight, it’s a really helpful read. 

6. Can you mute your microphones – We’ve all been adjusting to moving meetings, workshops and training online (this is fun bingo to play) and the team at Blueprints for Change have produced a really top set of guides full of advice from across their community to help you do that well. 

I’d also recommend this from Gastivists Network, suggest you look into the facilitating online sessions training that Training for Change run (I’ve been using this set of Google Slides which are perfect for online campaign facilitation), while the team at Campaign Bootcamp have shared this with a focus on training. I’m keeping a bit of a thread going on Twitter for useful guides I’ve found. 

7. The story to tell – Lots of useful content on messaging and framing, but I’d especially recommend what the team at Frameworks, with their 20+ years of experience have launched in a special series which aims to help advocates and experts be heard and understood in a time of global crisis, and in the UK, this is an excellent round-up from Alice Sachrajda on the story to tell and how to shape the narrative, with a long summary at the end of many other framing and narrative efforts. 

8. Remembering a larger us – the response that has seen in the UK, hundreds of mutual aid groups set up (a perfect example of a distributed networked campaign) is evidence as Alex Evans writes that ‘coronavirus asks us: do we see ourselves as part of a Larger Us, a them-and-us, or an atomised “I”?’. So with that in mind, I’ll finish with this;


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