Every campaign starts with a strong vision of where we want to go. Exceptional campaigns do more than tell a compelling story. They value every individual’s unique potential to achieve something greater than they ever could on their own, and they build collective power in the process. These campaigns give people the information they need to inspire others and react quickly to changing times, to avoid obstacles and seize opportunities.
Campaigners need a mix of these four ingredients to build successful people-powered campaigns:
Supporters are the heroes of our campaigns, embarking on journeys that truly impact issues over time. Organisations play a strategic role in defining challenges and presenting clear theories of change, but the story of our campaigns is ultimately created and told by individuals—through the words, pictures, videos, and actions that they share with their networks and the world to influence targets and grow campaigns. Therefore, our communications should consistently reflect our role as mentor, enabler and aggregator of supporter action.
Effective narratives are built to travel and are carried by people who validate our message using their own words and take them to places we could not reach directly or on our own.
People-powered campaigns can only succeed with strategic contributions by individuals, activists, and volunteers—online and offline—that shift the balance of power in our favor. These campaigns would literally be impossible to win with staff efforts alone. We embrace the notion that while staff contribute unique and essential expertise to our campaigns, the collective skills and talents among millions of volunteers and supporters can be far greater. One of the most valuable roles staff can play is enabling and empowering activists and volunteers to contribute their greatest talents to create change.
Wide Eyes, Open Ears
We use all available data to make our campaigns smarter and to build better relationships with supporters, activists, and new audiences. We determine what data we’d need to make decisions, and if it’s not being captured yet, we figure out how to get it. We analyse data in order to understand the best points of entry and trends for an online/public dialogue, to engage with supporters based on their complete histories and influence, to test our hypotheses, and to evaluate our performance.
We run our campaigns at the speed of the internet—responding to real world events as they occur, and adapting to changing times to meet people where they’re at. To do this, we embrace nimble, lightweight, and low-friction structures and processes that enable talented staff to seize opportunities as they arise (and more quickly than our targets), supported by responsive, accountable management.
Successful people-powered campaigns emulating these four principles above are typically achieved through “integrated” mobilisation teams or efforts—individuals coming together from a cross-section of skills, expertise, or departments to plan and execute campaigns that put people at the center. For more, see the Mobilisation Integration Toolkit.