Campaign Totals 2012 – HM Treasury

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012:

Number of postcards/letters: 51,068
Number of emails: 34,485
Number of signatures on a petition: 517,617

Biggest campaign: National Association of Master Bakers (with The Sun) – VAT on savoury products – 500,720 signatures

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2011 and 2012;


Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here.

Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 8 June 2012 and is adapted from a list of information provided by HM Treasury.

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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Why reporting back matters….

A couple of timely reminders about why feeding back on the success (or otherwise) of our campaigns is so important.

Firstly, the findings of a substantive piece of research on ‘Understanding public attitudes to aid and development’ from the thinktanks ODI and IPPR.

As the Campaigns Totals work that I’ve carried out over the last few years shows, the development sector in the UK has some of the most active campaigning departments generated hundreds of thousands of actions every year. In light of that, the findings from a number of focus groups across the country on what people thought about development and aid are important.

While the report is reflecting on all the communications that have come from the sector of which campaigning is only part, the researchers found a new trend that highlights the importance of sharing stories of success, including in our campaigning is as important in helping to demonstrate that we are making a difference, even if the direct causality is hard to show.

But something polling and surveys have not highlighted to date is the extent to which some of the communications and fundraising images NGOs and governments use may have contributed to public scepticism – the repeated use of images that show people living in desperate need has created an impression that very little has changed over the past few decades.

The researchers goes onto suggest that;

The dissatisfaction expressed with the more simple narratives often communicated today – and the relatively undeveloped understanding they have fostered – should provide food for thought for policymakers and those engaged in advocacy on these issues

While the challenges from the report need to be taken on by more than just those involved in advocacy campaigning within the development sector, I think it presents a clear challenge for any sector of the danger of repeatedly asking people to take action without actively feeding back on the impact that their actions have had can have.

Secondly, was anoter great email from the team at SumOfUs.org.

Sadly I can’t find a copy of the email on the web anywhere, but the message which was entitled ‘OFFICIAL REPORT-BACK: April-June‘ was an excellent example, taking me through the 6 or so key campaigns that SumOfUs.org had been behind over the last few months and summarising the impact that the movement has had.

It was an impressive and empowering read, honest as to the reasons why some of the campaigns hadn’t succeeded but also clear about the difference action had made. I’ve pasted the first few paragraphs below;

Our tiny team (just 5 people!) can’t take on these corporations on our own. But when the whole SumOfUs.org community — over 680,000 conscientious consumers around the world — comes together, corporations sit up and take notice, and magical things can happen.

All told, we’ve taken an astounding 2,655,793 actions since our inception just six months ago. And lately we’ve won some big campaigns — like driving out more than half of all corporate funding for the climate-denying Heartland Institute.

So, read on below and see more of what we’ve accomplished together!

It’s a great example of how to do feedback well, and given the findings of the IPPR/ODI report a timely reminder of the importance of doing it.

Campaign Totals 2012 – DECC

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 158,484

Biggest campaign: Friends of the Earth – Stop the Big Energy Companies Taking us for a Ride – 37,578 postcards

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2011 and 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

To view the breakdown spreadsheet in google docs click here.

Information taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 8 June 2012 and is adapted from a list of information provided by Department of Energy and Climate Change.

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)

Getting the most from your time as a volunteer

School’s out for the summer for university students, and some will be heading into volunteering roles and internships with campaigning organisations across the UK and beyond.

Doing a number of short-term internships or volunteering roles is one of the most common routes for getting a permanent job in campaigning, it’s also a good way of finding out that this perhaps isn’t the career for you.

I’ve been fortunate to have hosted lots of great volunteers in the organisation I work for over the years, and as such come up with my 8 top tips for getting the most out of your time as a volunteer with a campaigns team.

1. Be honest – Find out why you’re being asked to do the tasks your being asked to do. Some of them won’t be glamorous, but there should be a good reason for everything you’re being asked to do. Asking lots of questions is one of the best ways of understanding how different tactics and approaches come together to make a campaign.

2. Be clear – Make sure you get the time you need at the start of your time with an organisation to understand what they want you to achieve from your time, and for you to explain what you hope to achieve. If there are certain areas that you’re interested in finding out about more, ask at the start as it’s often possible to arrange something. Be clear what your objectives from the time you’ll be volunteering are.

3. Be in the room – I always try to make an effort to invite volunteers and interns to different meetings that are going on. Some of them are directly related to a project they may be involved with, but often I see them as a good opportunity to learn. If you’re invited to these meeting, GO. You’ll almost certainly get an insight that you wouldn’t have done if you’d just stayed at your desk.

4. Be Bold – It can be intimidating being a volunteer or intern, but be bold and if you think that somethings been overlooked in a meeting or if you have a good idea to contribute speak up. Chances are those involved will welcome the new insight that you’re able to bring.

5. Be a networker – Make time to try to get to know others around the organisation, approach people from different teams and ask if you might be able to meet them for lunch to find out more about their work. They’ll probably be happy to share more about it, go with some good question and you’ll come back an hour later with a better picture of how the work you’re doing links with the work of the rest of the organisation.

6. Be a learner – Ask those you’re working with for suggestions of good books, websites, reports and resources. It’s a good way to learn more about the campaigning craft and find out how others do it. Many organisations also have lunchtime sessions with internal/external speakers, go along to these as well.

7. Be cheerful – it sounds so obvious, but bring energy into the office you work in. There is little worse that a volunteer who appears uninterested. Get involved in making the tea or partaking in whatever other office routines you encounter.

8. Give feedback – At the end of your time let those you’ve been working with know what you’ve enjoyed doing, and what you found could do with some more consideration. You’ll be helping out future volunteers/interns.

What advice would you give to those coming to volunteer or intern for you this summer?

Update – The team at Bright One have also come up with an excellent list of Do’s and Don’ts for an intern.

Campaign Totals 2012 – DEFRA

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 123,220 (down 40%)

Number of postcards/letters: 35,196 (down 62% from 92,310 in 2011)
Number of emails: 88,024 (down 19% from 109,495 in 2011)
Biggest campaign: AVAAZ – Fishing Opportunities – Submission to public consultation on fishing opportunities –  30,975 (all via email)

Breakdown by campaign:

Scorecard based on figures from 2011 and 2012;

Par score based on number of actions at 75th percentile, birdie score on the 85th percentile, and eagle score based on the 95th percentile

View the spreadsheet in google docs here. Information from Freedom of Information requested received on 31 May 2012, and is presented as received from DEFRA. 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)

Looking beyond the usual corporate suspects

I was struck by this comment in a great post by David Ritter on campaigning trends that corporates need to be ready to respond to in the coming year;

NGOs are increasingly looking beyond the usual corporate suspects for campaign targets.

Ritter goes on to cite the example of ‘the global management consultancy McKinsey has been targeted by Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation for its ‘bad influence’ on deforestation. In McKinsey’s case – and to be brutally frank – for a global management consultancy that makes its living telling other people what to do, they’ve made a real mess out of how they have responded to being a campaign target.

Another great example of this approach, has been the campaigning that Sum Of Us have been doing toward the corporates that support the work of the Heartland Institute, a US think tank that has spent millions promoting climate scepticism.

The online movement has  focused on those corporates that fund the foundation and seen a number respond as a result putting real pressure on the ongoing funding of the Institute. It’s a great campaign, using an innovative approach which exposing the large sums that corporates spend rather than simply opposing the activities of the Institute, which would likely be futile.

I think campaigners could learn from both examples. What other examples of  campaigning beyond the usual corporate suspects have impressed you?

Campaign Totals 2012

On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing the first results this years campaigns totals survey.  Like last year I’ve been using Freedom of Information to find out how many campaign actions different government departments receive each year.

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhitehallI was amazed by the response that I got last year, with the results covered in Third Sector magazine and numerous campaigners getting in touch to say how helpful they’d found the information in their own internal benchmarking. I hope that this year results will prove helpful for campaigner from across the UK.

As in 2011, this year I’ve requested the information from all Whitehall departments covering the period 1st May 2011 to 1st May 2012. I’ve asked each department to provide the following;

  • The total number of campaign letters, postcards and emails that appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign you received from 1st May 2011 to 1st May 2012.
  • The breakdown of these numbers by delivery method (letter, postcard and email).
  • A breakdown by topic and/or organisation(s) where you received more than 500 items of correspondence (through any delivery method) that appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign in the period defined above.

At the end of the process, when I’ve got results from the majority of the 20+ government departments I’ve approached I should be in a position to share a total number of actions generated to Whitehall in the last 12 months and the split between e-actions and offline actions.

This year I’m also going to be able to try to define a ‘par’ score for each government department – based on the information over the last 2 years I want to find out what like in golf, the number of actions that a department my expect to receive and therefore which campaigns are able to break through this to show real traction.

I’m also going to be interested to see what impact online campaign platforms have had in the campaign environment. Last year Avaaz showed up in the top 15, but 38 Degrees didn’t, I wonder if the focus on the NHS Bill has changed this, and what impact has the launch of change.org in the UK has had on the totals.

It’ll also be fascinating if the launch of the No10 petition site has had an impact on the number of actions. Is it a site that’s bringing more organisations and individuals into taking campaigning action, or is it displacing actions from more traditional methods. My sense is that most campaigning organisations haven’t really embraced this tool, so perhaps this has increased the overall total.