Getting your campaign started

What is campaigning? You might call it influencing, voice, advocacy or campaigning, but all these activities are about creating change. NCVO usex the word campaigning and define this as the mobilising of forces by organisations or individuals to influence others in order to effect an identified and desired social, economic, environmental or political change. Whatever you call it and whether you are trying to save a local community centre from closing or lobbying government, campaigning and influencing policy is about creating a change. The impact is the real change created by a campaign – the difference it makes to people’s lives. Describe the context of the campaign This will help you focus your thinking, your planning and your campaign: What is the issue? Why is it a problem?What will you do to address it?What is the timescale?How will you measure success? Define the problem and the solution You need to be able to define the problem if you want people to care about it: Who is affected?Tell people’s stories if you canWhy should it be resolved? Explain the benefits What evidence do you have?Why is your organisation the one to solve it?How will you solve it?­List the actions you’ll take. Explain what you want to achieve You need to define exactly what you want from the campaign. With fundraising this is easy: ‘we want to raise £10,000’. It is measurable and you know when your campaign has succeeded. When you are campaigning to change the law, this can be a complex process, but the outcome has to be clear. In other areas of campaigning it is more difficult. You may want to change behaviour or the way people feel about an issue. Define your outcome in a way which you can measure.  You may want to assess the current situation (for example 10 per cent of residents agree healthy eating is important) then measure movement from there towards your campaign objective (for example 80 per cent agree). That way you can tell how well your campaign is progressing – and when it has succeeded! This can be difficult. People sometimes resist being measured. You may have to take this into account. Just remember, if you’re going to change the world, you need to be able to tell when you have done it. Know your audience Try to gather all the information you can about the target audience(s). Think about their level of awareness, their attitudes, their demographics etc. What arguments, messages and images will work best for them? You might be tempted to be vague (‘the general public’) or to guess (‘people think…’). You may guess right, but you may not. Be practical and find out everything you can about the people you need to reach. What are their values? Even simple research is better than just guessing. Ask members of your target audience about the issue and the solutions. The better you know your audience, the better you can persuade them. Choose your actions Campaign actions could include: public meetingsadvocacylobbyingpetitioningmedia activity (including advertising)demonstrations and more… Choose actions which help you reach your audience. Make sure your actions fit your purpose. Don’t produce thousands of paper flyers for an anti-littering campaign. If you want to empower young people, get them to join in and drive the campaign. Source: Published with permission from the Directory of Social Change. Have your say Does your organisation run campaigns on a regular basis? Which have been the most succesful and why did they work so well.  Where have you had problems? Have your say on the Campaigning and lobbying forum.

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