Regular readers of the blog will have noticed that in the last month I’ve broken the golden rule of blogging, that you must write something at least once a week. The main reason for this is because I’ve been contributing over on the NCVO website as they’ve launched the Campaigning and Influencing Forum.
I’ve written about the legacy of the debt campaign, sharing what I learnt from organising a successful event with MPs and asking if we can use visualisation to make data more interesting.
I’ll be reposting my contributions on this blog in the coming weeks, but if you haven’t visited the Forum, I’d encourage you to pay it a visit. It’s turning into a really lively forum covering lots of critical issues for those involved in campaigning.
If you want to be the first to know about new posts on this blog, you can sign up to the e-alerts in the top corner of the site or follow me on twitter. I’m @mrtombaker.
NCVO have just launched a new set of discussion groups about campaigning over at www.ncvo-vol.org.uk. I posted on the ‘Campaigning Landscape’ board last week about recent research into public attitudes to different campaigning tactics carried out by the think-tank Theos.
Do visit the discussion group to read the full post, including some reflections on the implications for campaigners.
Some of the headlines from the research include;
- 36% of those asked had ‘signed a petition’ in the last 12 months, while another 15% have ‘contacted a politician’ or ‘started, followed or supported a campaign using social media’ in the same period. Only 2% have ‘taken part in a public demonstration’.
- 72% of people would be willing to ‘sign a petition’, 50% would consider ‘contacting a politician’ and another 29% would consider ‘going on a public demonstration’.
- Scepticism exists about the effectiveness of many of the most popular tactics. Only 44% thinking that ‘signing a petition is likely to change rules, law or policies’ while 37% thinking ‘a public demonstration’ is likely to be effective. ‘Contacting politicians’ (46%) or ‘the media’ (45%) are believed to be the most effective but are actions taken by much smaller numbers.
- Domestic issues like fuel prices (52%), public service cuts (47%) and tax rises (41%) are the issues that the public are most likely to take action on, with climate change (17%) and global poverty (19%) some of the least likely.
I work for a large NGO (and always have) so I’m not permitted to attend the ‘Campaigning in a small organisation‘ session that NCVO are running tomorrow (although I might follow it via #F4CCSO), but here are few thoughts that I might pass on if I had the opportunity to do so. What would you add?
1. Don’t skip the planning – It might sound boring/time-consuming/hard to do (*delete as appropriate) but it’s worth the investment of time and energy, and I promise you it’ll mean you’ll have a better campaign at the end of it (I’ve learnt the hard way). Bad campaigning comes from rushing in without pausing to consider what you want to change, who can change it and how you can influence them, so make use of the advocacy cycle as you set out. There are excellent tools available, start here at the NCVO website & don’t be afraid to ask campaigners from other organisations to advise and help you. Campaigning for most is more than a job, it’s a vocation and most campaigners are only too pleased to help (look for example at this example from the Digital Charity group).
2. Capture the stories of success and failure – Become meticulous about recording what’s working and what’s not working so well. Use the stories of success, for example a comment from a local decision maker, feedback from a beneficiary, a campaign victory, etc, to build a case to invest more resources in campaigning. Use the not so good to learn for next time.
3. Small should mean agile – Agility is becoming a precious commodity in campaigning. The power of the internet means that you don’t have to have a massive print budget or a network of thousands of supporters to get notice. As a small organisation, you have an inherent advantage when it comes to making quick decisions, so make the most of it.
4. Don’t under-estimate the power of a coalition – Every organisation, no matter what it’s size, has something to contribute to a coalition. It could be the ability to connect with a specific audience, expertise and insight or links with a specific beneficiary group. Whatever it is, find others working on your issue, diverse groups often get noticed by decision makers.
5. Never stop believing that you can change the world! It’s quoted too often but Margaret Mead was onto something when she said “Never underestimate the power of a small but committed group of people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’
What other thoughts would you share with those attending tomorrow?