Campaign Totals – Department of Communities and Local Government

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2010 and May 1st 2011: 6,670

Number of letters: 4,196
Number of postcards: 1,786
Number of emails: 688
Biggest campaign: Planning application 10/000032/LM (Waste plant application in Hartlebury, near Kidderminster) – 2,121 actions

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 7 June 2011 and is taken from a list of information provided by Department of Communities and Local Government.

More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project here. Be first to get the information from other departments by subscribing to the site using the box on the right, adding https://thoughtfulcampaigner.wordpress.com/ to your RSS feed or following me on twitter (@mrtombaker)

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Campaign Totals – Department for Business Innovation and Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have provided information about the actions that they’ve received in the last 12 months in a slightly different format.

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2010 and May 1st 2011: 4,136

Ministerial Correspondence consists of MPs’ letters to Ministers on behalf of their constituents or about a matter in which they have a direct interest or concern.

Treat Official correspondence is when members of the public write directly to Ministers or the Prime Minister.

Breakdown by topic:

View the spreadsheet in google docs here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 2 June 2011 and has been presented as it was received from BIS. More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project here.

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May the Force be with Greenpeace

Greenpeace have launched a fantastic new campaign today (Tuesday) – ‘Volkswagen. The Dark Side’ targeting car manufacture VW to ‘turn away from the Dark Side and give our planet a chance’.

It’s been going less than 12 hours, but already they’ve had over 38,000 people send a message to VW bosses, over 10,000 likes on their Facebook page, #vwdarkside has been trending in London for much of the days and thousands have viewed their excellent video spoof of hugely popular VW Star Wars film.

Here are the five reasons why I think it’s been a fantastic campaign launch.

1 – An inspired location – Old Street has also been trending all day as well. Why? It was the location that Greenpeace chose to launch the campaign. No VW garage in sight just the home of Silicon Roundabout and undoubtably more tweeters than any part of London. Dot a few Stormtroopers around the place and you’ve got lots of digitally connected people talking about your campaign on twitter.

2 – A competitive edge – The campaign doesn’t simply want you to send a message to the VW CEO, it wants you to recruit more friends (or Jedi’s) to join the campaign. You’re given your own training page and the more friends who join, take action on your recommendation or view your special page the more points you get, which helps you unlock new characters from Star Wars. The element of competition is inspired, and has meant that its been passed on a huge number of times.

3 – A everyday brand – No doubt a multitude of other targets who could leverage the changes that Greenpeace would like to see, but VW are a globally recognisable brand and one who have tried to build a green image. Thus they make ideal targets. Moreover the launch is showing that the decisions that need to be made to stop climate change are, in part in the hands of companies like VW. The campaign also makes a direct pitch to those who drive VWs in the sign-up page, a really nice touch.

4 – A great message – This isn’t simply a ‘aren’t VW really horrible and nasty’ campaign, rather a campaign to persuade VW to play its part in helping to save the world. The language that the website uses it’s all about encouraging VW to stop ‘using its influence to prevent us getting the laws we need to protect our planet and boost our economy’.

5 – Everyone loves Star Wars – With over 40 million views, the original VW advert has been hugely popular so by basing a campaign on this Greenpeace is already tapping into popular culture. It’s also a huge amount of fun and its impressive how Greenpeace have carried the Star Wars theme through every element of the launch (for example their policy report is entitled ‘The Dark Side of Volkswagen’ and is introduced by R2D2!).

What do you think? Are you as enthused about the campaign launch as I am? Have you seen it all before? 

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Five for Friday 24th June….

It’s Friday, so here are five great articles I’ve read in the last few weeks that are worth reading in your lunch break…..

1. Research from the US suggested that ‘LinkedIn Is An Untapped Treasure Trove For Political Campaigns‘ because it draws older, more educated citizens–voters who are far more reliable when it come to casting ballots than those on Facebook. (h/t @rechord)

2. The Guardian reports on a new report from the Constitution Unit that suggests most decisions in the government are reached through informal channels rather than formal coalition machinery. Alison Goldsworthy has some useful advice on the NCVO Forum about influencing the coalition.

3. Casper ter Kuile points to a great article on the New Organising Institute that reminds us of ‘What We Can’t Teach: Courage and Commitment in Campaigns‘.

4. A new e-book reviews the last 10 years of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. (h/t @sullyserena)

5. Charles Secrett causes a stir by arguing that ‘Environmental activism needs its own revolution to regain its teeth‘ promoting a strong rebuttal from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and a further response from Secrett. My own thoughts on the original article are here.

What else have you read that you’d add?

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Campaigns Totals – DFID breakdown by action

DFID have provided more information about the actions that they’ve recieved in the last 12 months.

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2010 and May 1st 2011: 142,636

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

View the spreadsheet in google docs here. Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 15 June 2011 and has been sorted by number of actions received and is presented as it was received from DFID.

More about the ‘Campaigns Total’ project here. A number of readers have asked about campaign totals from the FCO, Treasury and other departments. I’ve now had initial responses from most departments but in some incidences I’ve had to go back for further clarification. I hope to post the totals from Treasury, Department of Business and Department of Communities and Local Government in the next week. Other departments might take longer.

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From Across the Pond – Observations from my visit to DC and NYC

I really enjoyed my time in the US last week, it was great to spend time with some inspiring advocates and get an insight into the campaigning landscape in the US. Clearly the US is a very big country and I was only able to visit Washington and New York (a little like just spending time in London and Brussels if you visited Europe) so these are just a few advocacy related observations from my time in those cities.

1. Advertising everywhere. On the Metro (see photo below supporting Corn Growers), in front yards and in the papers I was amazed at the amount of advertising in support of different public policy positions. It seems that a combinations of campaigns with deep financial pockets and media laws that make it easier for campaigning organisations to advertise have made this an attractive tactic to use. I’d be interested to see some figures on the effectiveness of this as a tactic, my concern would be that it risks becoming ‘background noise’ because it’s used so much.

2. The strength of community organising. I got to learn about some amazing examples of community organising on the issue of Environmental Justice at a conference in New York. Organisations like New York Faith and Justice or UPROSE are doing some amazing grassroots work, mobilising communities often in economically disadvantaged areas and seeing campaign success with local government, for example getting the City Council in New York to clean up disused industrial areas. It felt to me that their was a far more vibrant community of grassroots organisations than we have here making use of all the layers of government (city, district, state and federal level) that exist in the US in a far more effective way than I’ve observed in the UK.

3. QR Codes While you occasionally see these funny black and white patterns, which can be used in conjunction with a smart-phone to send you to a website for more information, in magazines in the UK they were a lot more prevalent in the US. With the growing use of smart-phones I can see how they could be used as an excellent tool in campaign literature to help bridge the digital/paper divide. I suspect we’ll see campaigning organisations use them soon.

4. How healthy are the grasstops?  I heard this phrase the ‘Grasstops’ used on a number of occasions, it’s used to describe those organisations that are just involved in lobbying and influencing in DC or towards other legislators but don’t have any support from a membership base (the grassroots). It appears to be a fastly with hundred of organisations with names that include ‘Institute‘, ‘Centres for….‘ or ‘Association of‘ in them.

Walking around DC you quickly spot people with badges representing them of to meet with politicians and officials, but my question is where these groups draw their legitimacy from, even when they’re advocating for more ‘progressive’ causes. It appears to me that some of the most  exciting advocacy networks are those that have been able to combine effective ‘grasstops’ engagement with support from an active ‘grassroots’. One that impressed me considerably was Bread for the World, a faith-based movement to end hunger.

5. The influence of Foundations. I’ve blogged on a number of papers on various topics coming out of various US Foundations in the last week. It’s very evident that they’re powerful financial backers of many of the campaigns and from that they are producing lots of interesting and exciting research on issues such as M+E and assessing impact (this is an interesting study on just that). I need to do more research to find the key foundations and networks, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the website of organisations like New Organising Institute,  Institute for Sustainable Communities and others who are putting out some great materials.

Have you been to the US recently or are you based in the US? What are your observations on the advocacy scene in the States? 

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From Across the Pond – Leadership within an Advocacy Movement

American’s love the concept of leadership. Go into any bookshop and you’ll find shelves dedicated to the subject, attend a conference and you can guarantee that the word ‘leader’ will have been used a dozen times before the lunch break.

So perhaps it’s no surprise to find that it’s our colleagues in the US who have been thinking about leadership models and advocacy.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities – Advocacy and Leadership Centre has produced ‘Leadership Roles within an Advocacy Movement’, a short and readable paper in which they identify 11 different types of leadership needed within a movement arguing that ‘a movement must have a plurality of leaders, filling a cabinet of distinct, yet complementary, leadership roles.  By utilizing a diverse cabinet of leaders, a movement develops a powerful dynamic that strengthens and emboldens, bringing the movement closer to optimum gains and successes’.

The list looks like this;

  • Visionaries who raise the view of the possible
  • Strategists who chart the vision and achieve what’s attainable
  • Statespersons who elevate the cause in the minds of both the public and decision-makers
  • Experts who wield knowledge to back up the movement’s positions
  • Outside Sparkplugs who goad and energize, fiercely holding those in power to account
  • Inside Advocates who understand how to turn power structures and established rules and procedures to advantage
  • Strategic Communicators who deploy the rhetoric to intensify and direct public passion toward the movement’s objectives
  • Movement Builders who generate optimism and good will, infecting others with dedication to the common good
  • Generalists who anchor a movement, grounded in years of experience
  • Historians who uphold a movement’s memory, collecting and conveying its stories
  • Cultural Activists who pair movements with powerful cultural forces

I don’t disagree with any of these but wonder if they’ve missed out a couple of key leadership approaches;

Pioneer – Someone who pushes the movement to make use of new tools and tactics. Most recently they would have been engaged with making the most of digital tools to further our campaigning, but throughout the history of campaigning we’ve had individual leaders who have been prepared to push into making use of new tools and tactics. This is different from the ‘visionary’ because they’re defined by the tactics they use.

Administrator – Too often forgotten but every campaign needs a solid and dependable administrator. This is not simply a service function, but a leadership function, someone who is their to ensure that the organisation of the campaign keeps pace with the growth of the energy behind a campaign issue. Too often campaigns fail because they don’t have the material resources or the structure to sustain them.

I was also thinking about the idea of adding in a ‘visualiser/designer‘. Someone who use creative tools to help communicate the essence of the campaign. Someone who harness the notion that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, but I’m not sure if this is more a branch off from the ‘strategic communicator’ role than a stand alone approach.

What do you think? What else has been missed out? Are my additions justified?