Monitoring our campaigns in real time…

This post has an excellent description about how one think tank, the Overseas Development Institute, constructed a dashboard to better monitor and evaluate how it’s outputs were being shared through its main communication channels.

Reading it got me thinking about what an equivalent campaign dashboard would look like.

I’m not aware of any campaigning organisation that uses such a dashboard, so I’ve put together my ‘wish list’. I’ll leave it to the IT experts to let me know what’s possible.

1 – Actions Taken – Most campaigning organisations have a bar which indicates the number of actions that have been taken, often in the context of a target that’s been set, but I’d want to the tool to go a step further and tell me about the trends. How many actions have been taken in the last hour or day and how this compares to other actions and trends across the sector. If I was focusing my campaigning on MPs I’d like to have some indication of the number of MPs my campaign had reached.

2 – Social Media – I’d want to know figures about how my campaign was being talked about on Twitter, statistics about Facebook interactions, number of views of relevant YouTube clips, etc.

3 – What people are saying – Pulling in relevant hashtags from twitter, plus blog and media mentions using Google Alerts, along with mentions in Parliament (if relevant) using TheWorkForYou. If possible, I’d try to draw this into a ‘favorability’ rating to indicate if people were positive about the campaign.

4 – What supporters are saying – Depending on if it would work organisationally I’d want to have a stream that was telling me about what our supporters were saying about the campaign through their interaction with our supporter enquiries team. Perhaps in a Wordle like that used by the DCMS in their reporting to Ministers.

5 – Open Rates for emails – Drawing in the information on the latest e-actions that I’ve sent out. Using dashboard information like that presented in MailChimp.

In addition, I’d like the dashboard to be able to record, when appropriate, the number of supporters who’d signed up to come along to a mass-lobby or demonstration that I was organising, but recognise that ‘s harder to capture in a dashboard.

Does anyone know of an organisation using a dashboard like this? Would it be possible to develop something like this? 

‘Things Online Organizers Say’ Bingo

Some fun for Friday…..introducing ‘Things Online Organisers Say’ Bingo, inspired by this video from the wonderful people at the New Organizing Institute.

The US Presidential election and the future of campaigning?

It’s the US election season, and suddenly anyone who’s watched an episode or two of the West Wing will become an expert on the best approach to win the 270 Electoral College seats needed, the opportunities presented by the Michigan Primary and the role of Super Delegates in a tight convention.

While predicting the result of the Primary and Presidential race, and while we’re at it I think we’re going to see Santorum push Romney all the way to the convention and Obama will win a second term, is a great conversation starter amongst the political engaged, it’s also a good time to start paying attention if you want to see the future of campaigning.


1. The election campaign is has a bigger budget than any other. This year President Obama is expected to fundraise over $1 billion and I’d expect the eventual Republican frontrunner won’t be far behind, which means it can develop some of the most powerful tools and employ the best and brightest staff.

2. It’s the most ‘important’ single political campaign in the world to win. The President of the United States is still the world’s most powerful elected official.

3. It’s got huge numbers of people involved. The Obama team already has over 200 staff working full-time in its head office in Chicago, a figure that is likely to increase rapidly in the next month, plus hundreds of thousands of volunteers on the ground ready to be engaged and resourced.

While I accept that election campaigning is different to campaigning to change public policy, and that the campaigns will make use of many of more traditional techniques like TV adverts, that are perhaps less available to public policy campaigns. I believe it’s still interesting to see how the tools used in previous campaigns have often tracked closely to the tools that are now common place in most campaigning organisations.

As Slate notes;

1996 saw the debut of candidate Web pages

2000 was the first time website were used for fundraising.

2004 saw Howard Dean pioneer the use of online tools (like MeetUp) to organise campaign events to link supporters together.

2008 led by the inspiring Obama campaign saw the emergence of socia media as a mass-communication tool, and the most sophisticated use of sites like which turned online interest into offline activism.

Add to that the resurgence of the concept of Community Organising fueled in part by the background of the current President but also the way that it was put to work to increase registration and turnout of previous under represented groups. (If you’re interested in learning more about the 2008 campaign I’d highly recommend that you read ‘Race of a Lifetime’ and the ‘Audacity to Win‘.)

So what are the early trends for 2012? Well the overriding one seems to be the most sophisticated use of data.

Slate suggest;

‘From a technological perspective, the 2012 campaign will look to many voters much the same as 2008 did…..this year’s looming innovations in campaign mechanics will be imperceptible to the electorate, and the engineers at Obama’s Chicago headquarters racing to complete Narwhal in time for the fall election season may be at work at one of the most important. If successful, Narwhal would fuse the multiple identities of the engaged citizen—the online activist, the offline voter, the donor, the volunteer—into a single, unified political profile’.

While the Guardian reported this weekend;

‘At the core is a single beating heart – a unified computer database that gathers and refines information on millions of committed and potential Obama voters. The database will allow staff and volunteers at all levels of the campaign – from the top strategists answering directly to Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina to the lowliest canvasser on the doorsteps of Ohio – to unlock knowledge about individual voters and use it to target personalised messages that they hope will mobilise voters where it counts most’

And this sophisticated use of data doesn’t seem to being the sole preserve of the Democratic Party, with Slate reporting in January about how Mitt Romney built a similar database to help him almost win the Iowa Caucus;

‘Romney’s previous Iowa campaign allowed him to stockpile voter data and develop sophisticated systems for interpreting it. It was that data and those interpretations that supported one of the riskiest strategic moves of the campaign thus far: Romney’s seemingly late decision to fight aggressively for his first-place finish in Iowa’

For more on the digital and data tactics that the campaigns are using take a look at this from the Washington Post and this from ABC News.

In the UK, we don’t have anything that comes close to the Presidential Elections. The nearest equivalent is the Mayor of London elections that are happening in May. It’s a highly personalised contest trying to reach one of the biggest single constituencies in the world, and certainly the Ken campaign is making use of some innovative tools;

1. Last week saw the launch of personalised Direct Mail which make of QR codes to invite a response.

2. The  Ken campaign has made a significant investment in using Nation Builder tools to launch ‘Your Ken’ – a community to resource and mobilise its activists which was received with acclaim when it was launched last year.

3. The heavy emphasise on the use of text and email to get the message out to potential voters across London.

I’ll be watching with interesting at how both these elections campaigns make use of new tools and tactics in the coming months, and reflecting on the opportunities they present for campaigning for social change. 

Five for Friday….17th February

Here we go with this weeks ‘Five for Friday’. These are 5 great articles on campaigning that you should be reading this week.

1 – Casper ter Kuile asks if the megaphone represents everything that’s wrong with campaigning.

2 – 17 pieces of good advice for anyone who writes email copy, and also a useful ‘Nonprofit Tech Checklist’.

3 – I’d really recommend Paul Mason’s new book, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere. If you don’t have time to read it, here is a 6 minute interview with The Guardian or the video from a longer talk at the LSE.

4 – It might sound dull, but the European Citizens Initiative will mean if you can get 1 million fellow European citizens to sign your petition then the European Commission will bring forward a proposal for a legal act. More on how it can work for your organisation here but the risks here.

5 – I think that this Amnesty campaign which uses the music identification app Shazam is brilliant.

And if you didn’t see it earlier in the week, have a look at my post on the importance of trust in campaigning.

What would you add to the list? 

A ‘cut out and keep’ guide to online campaign movements

It’s been a huge week of online campaign movements.

But with all these campaign movements doing amazing things, it’s easy to get confused about each of their USPs. So here is my handy ‘cut out and keep’ guide.

Avaaz –

Announced today that it has over 13 million members, who’ve taken over 68 million actions since its formation in 2007.

Has a global remit and a very broad focus, but increasing seems to be looking at issues around human rights and democratic space in countries like Syria, Tibet and Burma as well as building campaigning movement in emerging economies like India and Brazil.

Doing amazing work to make the most of the metrics to ensure their actions have the biggest impact, and also fundraising significant sums from its community for its work but also to respond to humanitarian situations.

The Economist called it ‘“a town crier in the global village, a cross-border fraternity that strives to be seen, heard and heeded.”

38 Degrees – (see also Move On in the US and Get Up in Australia).

UK-based, in the last year it’s focused on a range of issues from tax dodging to the NHS Bill, energy prices to saving our forests.

Has over 800,000 members who have taken 4 millions actions since its launch in 2009

Makes great use of  legal opinion and press adverts to support its online campaign.

Has started to build a grassroots movement, but is often criticised by MPs for causing deluges of emails.


Sum of Us –

Launched just a few weeks ago, but already generated an impressive 80,000 actions towards Apple and boast 200,000 members.

Sole focus on corporates, and sees itself as a ‘movement of consumers, workers and shareholders speaking with one voice to counterbalance the growing power of large corporations’

Trying to increase its impact by demonstrating those taking action are also consumers by asking people to indicate for example that they are ‘a iPhone user’ on their Apple ethical phone petition.


All Out –

A global movement to advance the interests and rights of LGBT people, its grown to be community of more than 800,000 people in 190 countries.

Significant focus of its mobilisation is on countries where being LGBT is still a crime, mobilised over half a million around the world to stop the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda in summer 2011.



Global movement on climate change. Name is linked to the need to reduce carbon emissions by under 350 parts per million to prevent catastrophic global warming.

Founded by Bill McKibben, a veteran environmental campaigner in 2007, committed to grassroots organizing as well as mass online action.

In October of 2009 they coordinated 5200 simultaneous rallies and demonstrations in 181 countries, which CNN called the ‘most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history’


A site for individuals to take action on whatever issues they choose, as well as providing a platform for organisations.

Over 5 millions people have taken action across 25,000 petitions. Rapidly growing worldwide.

Is able to provide advice to those individuals who set up online actions with dedicated support from a team of organisers to help with media, outreach and political engagement.

Structured as a for-profit but with the social mission of a nonprofit, expects to make $5 million in revenue in 2011.

I’d welcome suggestions of other movements that need to be added to the guide.