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Campaign Totals 2012 – DFID

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 172,207

Number of postcards/letters/petitions: 159,913
Number of emails: 12,294
Biggest campaign: CAFOD – Thirst for Change – 60,477 actions

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2010 to 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 taken from Freedom of Information request returned in July 2012 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.

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)

Making the most of Freedom of Information

I spent time on Friday sharing some of my experiences of using Freedom of Information with members of the Campaign Forum.

It’s a group of campaigners from across the sector that get together every quarter to share learning from their campaigns and hear from outside speakers.

I’ve always believed that it’s an under utilised tool for our campaigning, and if used well can help us to access invaluable information that allows our campaigns to be more effective.

It was encouraging to hear that many of the organisations present had made us of Freedom of Information in their campaigning work.

One good recent example of this approach was by Scope who worked with Demos to put together this interactive map of cuts to disability services across England and Wales.

As well as sharing a brief introduction to using Freedom of Information, drawing on the materials from the Campaign for Freedom of Information, I also shared a few top tips for making the most from it;

My tips were;

Be specific – That it’s very easy to have requests rejected because they’re asking for too much information, and as a result fall foul of the set limits that authorities have for ‘checking whether it holds the information, finding and extracting the information’. To avoid this, you need to be specific with what you’re requesting, and make use of time scales, titles of specific organisations/campaigns or locations to help to refine your asks.

I also shared the advice that Chris Coltrane had shared at the Netroots conference, that if you find that your request is rejected because they’ve calculated that it’ll cost too much to find, ask them how they’ve come to that calculation.

Be patient – Under law you’re meant to get a response within 20 working days, but it often seems that the deadline slips. Make sure you keep a good record of what you’ve requested and when, and follow-up once the 20 days have passed.

Ask for advice – That ‘ve found that Freedom of Information officers have often been very helpful it helping to access the information I’ve been looking for, and that you can make it easy for them to get in touch with you by providing a phone number with your request.

It takes time – If you’re an organisations planning to use the information in a media report or similar, don’t expect to have it all together in under a month. Plan well ahead and realise that the process of requesting the data itself is as time-consuming as processing the data afterwards! Campaigners present shared how they’d found it to be a really good project to involve interns in.

Request the data format – This is a lesson that I’m learning the hard way, from not doing so in my last round of request. I’ve got the information back in a whole range of formats, including pdfs which are incredibly hard to extract data from. You can specify the format that you want the information in, and the authority is required to comply with your preference so long as that is reasonably practicable.

You don’t have to justify why you want the information – But I suggested if you are worried about how requesting the information might impact a relationship with an official you can always do so in a personal capacity or work with a colleague to request it.

And the useful advice from the group;

Test out your request – A couple of campaigners spoke of how when they’ve been using Freedom of Information for large-scale requests they’ve tested out the request they’re making with a few friendly FoI Officers first to check that its understandable.

Get the Information Commissioner involved – One campaign spoke of how they’d still not heard back from some local authorities after a number of months and had as a result got the Information Commissioner involved. It’s a good reminder that there is recourse available if you’re not happy with the initial response.

I’ll keep an eye out for good uses of Freedom of Information by campaigns. What tips would you add, or what questions do you have? 

Five for Friday…13th July

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

1 – Not sure when to tweet? A useful visualisation of the best (and worst) times to do so.

2 – Grist asks Did 350.org’s Twitterstorm to stop fossil fuel subsidies work? 

3 – What Jamie Oliver can teach activists.

4 – Mobilisation Lab shares its top ten tips for writing emails to change the world (and if you haven’t signed up for their brilliant monthly emails I’d encourage you to do so.)

5 – Some good reflections from NCVO on the recent charity tax campaign they ran. I wish more campaigns would run this bite-sized learning with others.

What would you add to the list? 

Three great campaign innovations from ONE

Three really nice campaigning innovations from the ONE Campaign that I’ve come across in the last few weeks.

1 – The ONE Campaign App
Only available in the US, the iPhone app allows those who download it to stay in touch with the , access key information, connect with staff and take action. If anything it looks like the app is asking users to do much, but I love the feature that allows you to phone your Representative or Senator (complete with a script if you’re not so confident), as well as the integration that makes it easy to share the latest petition with their friends.

I’m sure the challenge of any app is to ensure that users go back to it regularly, but given the massive growth in the use of smartphones over the last few years I’m surprised that more organisations haven’t invested in similar technology.

2 – The DATA Report as an eBook
Another first? I’m not aware of other organisations that have made their flagship policy report available like this, but it makes so much sense to develop it given the environmental benefits and also the cost of sending hundreds of copies to policy makers. Be great to see more policy reports available like this.

3 – TweetNumber10
I’ve highlighted this before, but its such a great website and a really simple user experience. Just a few clicks and you’ve sent a tweet to Number 10. While its interesting that they ‘only’ persuaded 5,000 people to take action, compared to the tens of thousands that normally sign their online actions, I’m sure we’ll see lots more organisations using a similar approach.

Campaign Totals 2012 – Department of Education

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 3,957

Number of letters: 1,042
Number of emails: 2,915
Biggest campaign: People and Planet – Climate Change in the National Curriculum – 1,930 actions

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2010 to 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 taken from Freedom of Information request returned on 26 May 2011 and is presented as it was received from Department of Education.

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)

Campaign Totals 2012 – Home Office

Total number of actions received between May 1st 2011 and May 1st 2012: 33,465

Number of postcards: 12,892
Number of emails: 20,573
Biggest campaign:No weakening of Protection for Animals in UK Laboratories – 13,914 actions.

 

Breakdown by topic and organisation:

Scorecard based on figures from 2010 to 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 taken from Freedom of Information request returned in June 2012 and is presented as it was received from Home Office.

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)