Five thoughts for those campaigning in smaller organisations

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?

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3 Responses

  1. Interesting that you `shamefully always have`worked for a larger NGO. I think that is something to be proud of, since though larger NGOs do have the beaurocratic aspects that can be negative, they also have a lot more power to catalyse change.

  2. Thanks….I’ve taken out the word ‘shameful’. The article is not meant to be about my career so I don’t want it to distract.

  3. […] campaigns are run by a small staff teams who are juggling multiple priorities (and I’ve made suggestions before about how that shouldn’t hold you back and that lots of campaigners would love to help out) […]

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