Over 120 campaigners from 43 countries came together at CampaignCon in 2016 to share expertise, build network strength and grow the capacity of campaigns at all levels – local to global – to take on the big complex problems we’re facing in fast-changing world.

The gathering provided a unique opportunity to talk to diverse campaigners from every continent (sans Antarctica) about the needs, ideas and opportunities they’re facing. We gathered over 400 statements on post-it notes spread across dozens of categories.

The full list is too long to share, but we want to give you an idea of what we heard. Many campaigner questions turned into full sessions during the event.

Shrinking civil space

  • Which tactics work best where civic space is restricted?
  • Campaigning in difficult environments i.e. repressive regimes.
  • How can we counter shrinking civil society space and attacks without endangering activists?
  • How could we develop campaign plans for people in refugee camps?
  • How can we join forces to stop extrajudicial executions by security forces in Kenya?

Innovative tech tools and ideas

Participants in a session on creating and using innovative digital tools talked about a range of ideas to support people and engage them in campaigns:

  • Digital money: Donors give money in digital way to support campaigns.
  • Legal tools to provide legal assistance to people (like a lawyer).
  • Skill share platform between CSOs
  • A pollution app that can inform of the level of pollution in one place.
  • A tool to visualise what your signature, actions, and money will initiate.
  • Involve students in Central Asia with students around the world (no civic society space in central Asia so students can learn from others).
  • Media – community radio.
  • An open app to identify a demonstration and engage with people who will and want to take part.
  • App to link staff working in the field with supports

Digital tools and tech

  • What are the most effective new campaigning tools?
  • Can we find + develop new forms of mass digital mobilisation as opposed to petitions?
  • Discuss sharing online campaigning learning tools with people in shrinking political spaces as a way to share knowledge and skills in a secure way.
  • How to ‘hack’ digital tools for campaigning purposes?
  • How do we work with tracking devices to win campaigns?

Innovative tactics

  • Can we explore gamified, interactive or immersive forms of tactics and content?
  • How do we use virtual reality to seek supporters?
  • What are some crazy digital engagement tactics that worked?
  • Persuasion design using behaviour change techniques to influence action + giving.
  • How could we involve digital in non-violent direct action tactics?
  • How to make our tactics independent of digital majors (FB / Google).

Security of campaigners

  • Safety of human rights defenders
  • How should we be protecting our campaign data?
  • How can we create more responsive and accessible digital and physical security support for activists?

Community organising and leadership

  • How to support sustainable grassroots campaigning balancing structural advocacy with basic needs.
  • What can we all do together to get more people to take change making into their own hands.
  • How community data can become the core of campaigning.
  • Activism and organising are western concepts.
  • How we can build stronger self-organising volunteers structures that help develop stronger leaders.
  • Targeting big corporations with local structures (e.g. supermarkets).
  • How to combine digital and offline campaigning in the global south.
  • Taking supporters from online to offline activity at scale + Creating supporter journeys that bring people from online to offline

Campaigning in the Global South

  • Digital campaigning tools + techniques in the global south. How is it different from the north?
  • How do we support + provide solidarity to more campaigns in the south?
  • How do we reach + engage people in regions where internet access is limited?
  • What campaigning tools (beyond emails social media, etc.) have been most effective for campaigners in the global south?

Behaviour change

  • How do you run successful attitudinal change campaigns?
  • How do I campaign to end female genital mutilation in Somalia where traditional campaigns are limited by insecurity, cultural beliefs, conflict?
  • What are success stories in shifting cultural mindsets? Are there lessons we can apply?

Collecting campaigning knowledge

  • What knowledge + skills do people need to be better in their campaigning and how can we create online learning components to help them?
  • Is there a broad knowledge database of all useful online informational learning tools for campaigners + activists?
  • How can we share skills, challenges and learnings across organisations when we are not together?

Women’s rights and campaigning

  • How do we use tech to promote gender equality?
  • How do we make a bigger + stronger + more feminist movement to stop climate change?
  • How do we promote women leadership in campaigning?

System change

  • How do we use failure of capitalism more effectively to change the system?
  • We need to talk about the money crisis.
  • Does creating a fair and just world require a radical change to existing systems or can we create just solutions within them?
  • How campaigning now can support transition into a new economy?

Post-petition era

  • How do we make online petitions effective again?
  • Having the space and the organisational audacity to produce truly creative and engaging campaign content that speaks to non traditional audiences
  • How do we bring experience into campaigning? How do we be experimental?
  • Engagement beyond the signature – how to make petitions more engaging and impactful.


  • What’s the best way to strategically and consistently support national level campaigns and activism on a global scale?
  • How can local campaigns contribute to system change?
  • Discuss other ways of planning projects – do we need to plan at all?
  • How can we put people-powered strategies into the heart of campaign planning?

Open campaigns

  • How to empower people to run their own campaigns?
  • How to create campaigns together with people?
  • Is there more from the open source approach that campaigners need?


  • Is mass mobilisation for global goals still needed?
  • Examples of successful online and offline mobilisation on a national and global scale.

Social movements

  • To what extent should INGOs get involved in campaigns led by social movements?
  • How do we better work with marginalised communities?
  • Is there a difference between a campaign and a movement?
  • Are movements the only way to create change ?
  • How can movements sustain without donors?
  • What role do INGOs have with social movements and the grassroots? How to support?
  • How to control the funders that try control us
  • How do we navigate fighting for justice and equality when the will of the public is against us?
  • How can we embed rapid response campaigning processes into organisations?
  • Having the space and organisational audacity to produce truly creative and engaging content that speaks to non traditional audiences?

About the author

Ted Fickes

Editor, writer and strategist