How Oxfam let key activists know about its new campaign first

Oxfam are due to launch a new global campaign tomorrow (June 1st – although it seems that the BBC have jumped the gun by reporting on it a day early), and we’re promised that we should be prepared for a ‘impending wonk, campaign, celeb and media fest around Oxfam’s campaign launch tomorrow. Biggest thing ever; simultaneous launches in 45 countries; bigger (at least in ambition) than Make Poverty History or Make Trade Fair’

While it’ll be interesting to watch how the campaign develops and the tactics they use, especially with so many countries involved, as a campaigner I’ve also been interested in following the way that Oxfam GB have already soft launched the campaign to key activists around the country.

For example a colleague forwarded me an invite to a supporter phone briefing the activism team hosted on May 17th. It’s the first time I’ve come across the idea of such a call, but it seems like a really inspired and practical idea. The call involved speakers from the Oxfam GB’s Campaigns and Policy team, alongside representatives from the Events team with practical suggestions about what people could do.

Looking at the Cover It Live conversation from the call it looks like those who participated had a really lively conversation. For me, using such an innovative tool has a number of advantages;

  • It builds a sense of ownership – For those invited to be part of the call to allows them to feel that they’re the first to know, that they’ve got a responsibility to promote the campaigns to their own networks when it goes live.
  • It equips people and provides a space to ask the difficult questions – It’s easy to launch a new campaign with the accompanying policy report, but the reality is that most activists don’t have time to sit down immediately to read and digest it. A call like this allows the opportunity for supporters to feel like they’ve had the opportunity to ask before they’re hearing about it on the news.
  • It builds loyalty – by breaking down the divide between staff and supporters, especially by actively asking for suggestions and ideas, it makes Team Oxfam bigger. They also actively encouraged those on the call to join a group on their ‘enabler‘ site to keep the conversation going.
In the past, the cost of hosting such a call would have been prohibitive but here are a few ways that other campaigns looking to try the idea could do it for almost nothing;
  • PowWowNow is a free conference call service, which can facilitate ‘event calls’ for up to 300 people.
  • Cover It Live is an excellent interface for facilitating live discussion between a group. It’s free and you can use it to display images, carry out polls and can even include live video from a webcam if you’re prepared to pay a little extra.
What other free technology exists that could enhance a call like this? Have you seen other organisations use similar tools to keep key supporters informed? 
Advertisements

Three questions ahead of @fairsay’s clicktivism debate

Fairsay are holding what looks like it’ll be a fascinating debate on Monday night in Oxford around the issue of Activism vs. Slacktivism, with a great line up of speakers.

I can’t join in, but here are the three questions, that I’d be looking for answers to if I could make it along.

1 – What are the best examples of coordinating on and off line activism? I think most agree that ‘on-line’ activism alone won’t always lead to change and that it needs to be a key tool which is deployed as part of a wider strategy. If this is the case, what are the best examples of linking this together, and what do organisations need to be doing to harness the benefits of both?

2 – Have we convinced decision makers about the power of e-actions? I’ve written about this before but I worry that some decision makers see e-actions as a nuisance, rather than a legitimate campaign tool that allow large numbers of constituents to register their views. Is this the case and if so what more do we need to do to challenge this understanding?

3 – Have we convinced the public about the power of digital campaigning? Should the figures in recent surveys from organisations such as Theos, which show relatively low numbers of people think that e-campaign is actual likely to lead to change be a cause of concern? What do we need to do to address this?

If you’re new to the ‘clicktivism’ debate, do have a look at this comprehensive list of article’s that Jess Day has put together. Some good articles to start with would be;

Clicktivism is ruining leftist activism by Micah White, which kicked off much of the recent debate.
Small Change – Why the revolution will not be tweeted by Malcolm Gladwell
The case for online organising by Ben Brandzel
Exactly what role did social media play in the Egyptian revolution? on Social Media Today which looks at a very contemporary case study.
Finally, Study Finds the Internet Makes Youth More Engaged Citizens which injects some much needed academic rigour into the debate.
Clicktivism – will we acknowledge its impact by Brie Rogers Lowery reports on a similar discussion at the recent 6 billion ways conference.