Author Archives: Jonathan Dearth

  1. Campaigns and Communications sector overwhelmingly backs Greenpeace but

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    Our survey on the incident last Thursday with Mark Field and a Greenpeace activist has not surprisingly shown overpowering support of Greenpeace.

    72% of the responder “strongly agreed” or “agreed” with the statement “Greenpeace should be congratulated on their bravery and continue to take action in this fashion”

    The actions of Mark Field MP were significantly condemned – 75% against and 88% saying this response was too strong. What’s is most surprising is that 17.5% actually agreed that Mark Field was right to stop the activist.

    Although some in the media have tried to say that the actions would have been proportionate if the protester had been a man, over 82% of those who responded to the survey said that this would make no difference.


    The Right Ethos responded to this topical and sector relevant issue on Friday with this survey. And we tried to present the questions in as neutral a way as possible so to try and get a true sense of the views of those potentially being affected going forward – the campaigns, policy, public affairs and communications audience in the not-for-profit sector.

    Now that the survey is complete, we now feel we can express our views.

    What Mark Field did was an assault in every way. A direct physical assault on Janet Barker.

    An assault on Greenpeace and their strong and proud tradition of peaceful, creative and highly effective protest, particularly at this time of a climate emergency.

    And an assault on the campaigning sector as a whole. 13 years ago, after working for campaigning organisations such as Liberty, Amnesty International and World Development Movement (now Global Justice Now), I set up The Right Ethos for the sector. And what I find most disappointing about this survey is that 8.9% – around 1 in 11 of the responders did not feel that Mark Field’s response was too strong. The campaigning sector has changed. When I started out in the mid-1990s, at Shelter this figure would have been negligible. The sector is getting broader, perhaps some may say reflecting society more.

    But, surely one of the fundamentals of campaigning for justice – whichever cause, be it environmental, international development, health, disability or whatever – is to fully challenge the power of the privileged, the decision makers over our lives. Perhaps we need to challenge those in our sector who don’t have this view and perhaps restraining the ability of others to campaign with full effect.



    The full survey results


    How do you feel about the Mark Field and Greenpeace incident. He was right to stop the activist?


    Strongly agree                                  3.5%

    Agree                                                    14.%

    Neither agree nor disagree         7%

    Disagree                                              21%

    Strongly disagree                            54.4%


    His response was too strong


    Strongly agree                                   84.2%

    Agree                                                    3.5%

    Somewhat agree                              3.5%

    Neither agree nor disagree          0%

    Somewhat disagree                        5.3%

    Disagree                                              1.8%

    Strongly disagree                             1.8%

    The response would have been fine if the protestor was a man


    Strongly agree                                   1.8%

    Agree                                                    7%

    Neither agree nor disagree          8.8%

    Disagree                                              36.8%

    Strongly disagree                             45.6%


    Mark Field was right to do what he did with the attack of Jo Cox MP, 3 years ago in mind


    Strongly agree                                   5.3%

    Agree                                                    5.3%

    Neither agree nor disagree          10.5%

    Disagree                                              28.1%

    Strongly disagree                             50.9%


    Greenpeace should be congratulated on their bravery and continue to take action in this fashion


    Strongly agree            38.6%

    Agree                           34.3%

    Neither agree nor disagree 11.3%

    Disagree                            8.8%

    Strongly disagree        7%






  2. Not in front of the children: Asylum Aid’s childcare campaign in theory and practice

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    On International Women’s Day, Debora Singer MBE, shares her experience of running a campaign that benefits women seeking asylum from human rights abuses abroad.


    Since July 2018 single parents can leave their children to play safely whilst they attend their asylum interviews.

    I led Asylum Aid’s campaign to persuade the Home Office to provide such childcare.  It took 11 years.

    So how does this campaign reflect the theory of campaigning which I learnt courtesy of NCVO’s certificate in campaigning?

    The problem/solution

    Campaigners are always taught that they need to start by identifying a solution as well as a problem.

    In our case, the problem was women having their children with them at their asylum interviews.  This meant they had to choose between disclosing all the abuses they had experienced or traumatising their children.  But women didn’t have friends or family they could leave their children with and couldn’t afford childcare.

    The solution identified was for the Home Office to provide an on-site crèche at the eight asylum interview centres around the UK.

    Theory of change

    Although we did not write it down formally, we had a clear theory of change.


    Our objective was written into the title of our campaign document:

    For the Home Office to provide childcare for women asylum seekers during asylum claim interviews.  

    Was this a SMART objective?

    Our objective was clearly specific and measurable.  Our analysis was that it was also realistic and achievable.

    But timed?

    We never discussed a timeframe.  In retrospect this was an advantage as the campaign was continued until the objective was achieved.


    Who was the target of this campaign?

    If the power to make the change had been held centrally we would have had a straightforward theory of change.

    But the Head of Asylum at the Home Office told me that those with the power to bring in childcare were the regional asylum directors, located in the interviewing centres.  The regional directors were clearly our targets at the start of our campaign.

    Seven years into the campaign the Home Office brought everything back under central control.  We shifted our target to this central focus.

    Influencing tree

    As a London based charity, it was very clear that we did not have access to the regional directors around the UK.  We would need to engage others to reach the regional directors.

    The people who could reach the regional directors were the 50 members of the Refugee Women’s Stakeholder Group (RWStG).  Asylum Aid was a founder member.

    This resulted in a classic influencing tree.


    Unlike campaigns that are plotted in huge detail in advance, this campaign was very organic.  We didn’t target specific stakeholders to take it forward.  We simply shared resources.  We set up a google group allowing campaigners to connect.

    The resource we shared in April 2007 was a campaign document written by one of the RWStG members.  It was entitled Why the Home Office should provide childcare: Campaign for the provision of childcare for women asylum seekers during asylum claim interviews.

    We focused on an insider campaign as the stakeholders had access to the people with the power to bring in childcare.


    The campaign resulted in two types of campaign activities.  Local stakeholders directly lobbied regional directors in their area.  National NGOs produced letters and reports and raised parliamentary questions.

    These activities happened spontaneously as a result of the campaign, demonstrating the sense of ownership attached to it.


    Our first campaign success came very quickly when pressure by the Welsh Strategic Migration Partnership resulted in childcare being set up at the interviewing centre in Cardiff.

    Within two years the Home Office were calling the childcare provision in Cardiff a pilot and proposing national roll out within a year.  It seemed the campaign might succeed very swiftly.

    By 2009 campaigners in Glasgow, Leeds and Solihull had persuaded their local interview offices to provide childcare.

    However London and Liverpool remained elusive.  And by 2015 Leeds and Glasgow’s childcare provision had been discontinued.

    With no framework or national policy to ensure its continuation regional childcare provision was vulnerable.


    I remember Mark Lattimer, author of The Campaigning Handbook talking of boosting campaigns to overcome the bell curve trajectory.  We boosted the demand for childcare through two subsequent campaigns.

    The Charter of rights of women seeking asylum was launched in 2008.  Shared “Women’s Asylum Charter” branding helped the sense of ownership of the campaign.

    But despite early success, it would be a decade before there was national provision of childcare during asylum interviews and we didn’t let the matter drop.

    We included the demand in the Protection Gap campaign in 2014.  The Protection Gap campaign focused on the revised target, the Home Office at a national level.


    In response, in 2015, a proactive Home Office civil servant with an interest in gender issues and access to senior management and resources took up the demand.  She developed a national operational strategy and a business plan and obtained funding.

    This resulted in a consistent model of childcare provision being consolidated across the UK.

    In July 2018 the Home Office announced that childcare was available at all eight asylum interviewing centres.

    Monitoring and evaluation

    At Asylum Aid I monitored the campaign through a simple narrative table showing progress in each region and national activity by NGOs.

    Two evaluations were initiated by different stakeholders during the campaign.  These are further examples of the sense of ownership of the campaign.


    There was no budget.

    The childcare campaign was part of my workplan as Women’s Project Manager at Asylum Aid.  Staffing and activities costs were absorbed by each stakeholder involved.  Costings were reduced by the development of shared materials and shared branding.  As a result, the campaign was not restricted to time-limited funding.

    Celebrating success

    As well as celebrating success with the many people who had contributed to the campaign, we wanted an opportunity to congratulate our target, the Home Office, for their achievement.  We invited everybody to a celebration.  Our theme was a children’s party complete with cake, competitions and a magician, creating a really positive atmosphere.

    By asking them to speak at this event, we got the Home Office to demonstrate their commitment to childcare in public.  This means we are in a stronger position for childcare to be maintained in the future when funding arrangements change.


    As a result of this campaign, no woman needs to be faced with choosing between telling her whole story at her asylum interview and traumatising her children.

    The UK appears to be the only country in Europe that provides childcare during asylum interviews.


    So how does this campaign fare in relation to the theory of campaigning?

    It demonstrates a clear influencing tree in its methodology of changing national policy and provision by focusing on the regional level.

    Enabling organic growth replaced meticulous planning.  This allowed stakeholders to take ownership of the campaign.

    In conclusion I identified three critical elements as leading to the childcare campaign’s success:
    a clear theory of change, ownership and persistence.


  3. Tribute to Paul Flynn MP

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    Just to join the praise for this committed and principled MP who died this week.

    Paul Flynn became my MP in Newport West in 1987. I didn’t vote for him. I would never vote Labour and certainly less likely to given the events of this week.
    Paul was a campaigner. He had intellectually robust views and then devoted his time and energy in campaigning for them.

    I agreed with him on his campaigning to abolish the monarchy. And on his anti-Brexit stance calling for a second referendum saying:

    second thoughts are always superior to first thoughts”

    I was fortunate to meet Paul twice. In Islington, on March 1st 2016 for a St. David’s Day dinner, when I was the Liberal Democrat Mayor of the Borough. And a few months later, back in Newport when I attended an event at the Mansion House. He remembered me, or at least politely gave the impression of remembering me. He was a charming, warm and caring man. Motivated by doing good, independent thinking and a campaigner for real change.

    I’d join in with the description from the late political sketch-writer Simon Hoggart, who had said he was “the thinking man’s Dennis Skinner”


  4. Presentation speech at Scope for The World Cup of Charities to Work For!

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    I am delighted to be here today to acknowledge that Scope are the 2018 winners of #wcoctwf. The World Cup of Charities to Work For! – a Twitter poll of 32 major charities in the UK.

    It was a tremendously exciting competition, even though it was basically just touching a screen to vote.
    The final – Scope versus Islamic Relief Worldwide – captured the imagination of its staff, past and present, and this turned into a great competition. In the final, Scope won with an impressive 2125 votes, beating Islamic Relief Worldwide 78%-22%.

    I am pleased that Scope won for a few reasons: professionally, personally and also ethically.

    I was professionally pleased as Scope has been a regular client of The Right Ethos over the years, and the other finalist had not.

    I was also personally pleased because of the connection of two births. In 2006, I worked at Scope in Market Road for three months on a short-term contract. It was during my time here that I started planning The Right Ethos. I left Scope in 2007, the same month that I registered my company and so The Right Ethos was born. My wife, Catherine, was already working at Scope as a full-time employee when I arrived and it was across the desks at the offices that she gave me a nod of her head to confirm that she was pregnant with our daughter.

    But I am also really pleased that Scope has won from an ethos perspective. From my understanding of the recent changes of Scope, it is now focussing on its core activity of gaining long-term and real change for disabled people. While other charities empire build and measure success in terms of size, Scope appears to be focussed on success in terms of improving the lives of disabled people by concentrating on a quality of opportunity. For me, this shows that Scope has The Right Ethos.

    And I am sure this is a major reason why Scope has won the World Cup of Charities to Vote For!

  5. Frank Smith

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    Frank Smith has over 18 years experience working in international advocacy, leading global advocacy campaigns on a range of issues and in a range of different organisations and contexts. Over the last year he has been working as a consultant, supporting organisations develop their advocacy capacity and their advocacy strategies so as to improve their overall influence.

    His advocacy work in the humanitarian, human rights and international development fields has given me a deep understanding of the international landscape. He has worked closely with different UN organisations, most recently the UNHCR, working as a consultant.

    Previous employment include:

    Director – No More Epidemics campaign – Management Sciences for Health, USA

    Head of Policy – Plan International,

    Head of Department – Middle East, Europe, Caucasus, Asia (MEECA) – Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), Geneva

    Director of Global Campaigns – World Vision International

  6. Laura Osborne

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    Former Communications Director, Which?

    Why do you do your job?

    A passion for story-telling really. I love running a comms team; it’s hard work, but it’s worth it, particularly as reputation and stakeholder management have never been more important. It’s making the complex understandable, relatable and relevant – so people are interesting in knowing what your organisation or cause is about. Importantly, its also how you do that visually and digitally, as well as through more traditional channels.

    What job did you want or think you would be doing when you were younger?

    I’ve always loved to write – and I read everything and anything I could get my hands on when I was young, a bit like Matilda without the magic powers… So a journalist or a novelist perhaps, but I can’t say I really knew what that was at the time. As I got a bit older, I increasingly wanted to be in or around politics. I did work experience with my MP before interning at a think tank, as I wanted to be part of that world. That’s what took me into public affairs and communications.

    Who in the sector do you admire the most?

    I admire what Digital Mums does, upskilling women who’ve had a break, and helping them use their newly-gained social media talents in a flexible way. More generally, I admire people who do things differently and who aren’t constrained by what’s been done before. I love Selfish Mother and how she’s using Instagram to refresh a magazine format. I also value intellect: I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of smart people, and that’s a joy of the job.

    What are the three most important attributes needed to do your job?

    Energy, curiosity and attention to detail. You have to be able span working a 20 hour day when the job demands it, so it helps to have natural energy, drive and resilience. As well as knowing your organisation inside out, you need to be able to spot opportunities and spaces where your comms can have a big impact, which is where the curiosity comes in! Attention to detail is up there because precision matters in good communications; you need a reputation as a trustworthy source to secure genuine media and political impact.

    What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

    A great story that flies across channels is still one of my biggest highs. So much work goes into having all your ducks in a row, usually all invisible to the naked eye, but it’s worth it when it works and especially when it’s seamless across them all. Increasingly, it is also about spotting, nurturing and developing talent. I’m a mentor and a member of industry groups, and helping others make leaps forward and avoid pitfalls is rewarding – I wish I’d sought that out more when I was younger, especially when I returned to work after my first baby.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in a role similar to yours?

    I’d encourage them to take all the opportunities that come their way – never count yourself out – and also to be active in the sector. It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s happening in your role, in your organisation. But it’s important to look around, see what others are doing, what you could learn from, who you could learn from. People need you to bring the outside in, it’s part of the job.

    What is the best thing that you’ve been a part of during your career?

    That’s a hard one – as there were great moments in consultancy, the civil service and in not-for-profit – all different! But I loved being part of the work Which? did on social care – pushing for action to help to tackle an emerging crisis. For maximum impact, we aligned a research-based Channel 4 exclusive with the health secretary’s party conference speech, setting out a clear set of actions needed for change and forcing a response. Being the spokesperson that day was a real high. A close second is being part of the team that shifted the early debate on payday loans and the need for stronger regulation, something that’s since become a reality. I’m at my happiest when communications and influencing drive a change for the better.

    What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by organisations like yours in the present day?

    The hardest thing today is securing attention for the issues that matter to your organisation or cause when the political and news agendas are a) Brexit-heavy and b) far less predictable than they were. Cutting through requires a different approach: a real focus on your organisation’s true priorities and proper insight into your audience.

    If you weren’t doing the job that you are doing currently, what do you think you would be doing instead?

    If I wasn’t a comms or corporate affairs director (and if I’d actually done a masters instead of taking my first public affairs job), perhaps I’d be teaching philosophy to undergraduates somewhere. I’d still be trying to the make the complex relatable!

    To follow Laura on Twitter click here. Listen to the full interview below.


  7. “There’s no point advertising yet – no one’s looking for jobs in the run up to Christmas”

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    That’s true, but don’t start the great seasonal tidy up just yet. Candidates do have other things on their minds but they aren’t looking because they think you aren’t recruiting!

    However, it’s the most wonderful time of the year to work with The Right Ethos. He would say that wouldn’t he, I hear you say.  But let me explain why. Advertising doesn’t work at this time of the year (although you’ve probably also heard recruitment advertising doesn’t work anymore either and there’s also an argument for that)

    But, candidates are keen to hear about jobs and we contact them right up to a few days before Christmas. They pick up their phones or meet with us because they’re keen to advance their career. If you think about it, you would too if you were about to find out about a great job from an agency which always gets it right for you.

    Sourcing candidates is particularly good for us at this time of year as we cream off the best candidates before the mad rush of adverts which inevitably hit the job boards in January.

    We have the largest database in the UK of external affairs, communications and campaigns staff. That, together with our extensive networks built through my 24 years employed in External Affairs for organisations including Shelter, Amnesty International and Save the Children allows us to identify and contact candidates quickly and efficiently, whether they’re actively looking at job adverts or not.

    We have a range of successful recruitment methods and prices, including a reduced service at only 7.5% of salary, and collaborative working which comes with a 12 month guarantee on our candidates.

    If you want to talk about how we can help, please give me a call 07726 562716 or drop me an email –

  8. Seeing Job Shares as a positive, not a problem

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    I set up The Right Ethos recruitment consultants in 2007 after 13 years working for organisations including Shelter, Save the Children and PLAN International. I was invited to speak at the Jobsharing Network Meeting on 26th April 2017 by Katherine Nightingale and Alice Allan, who Jobshare the Head of Advocacy and Policy at CARE International. The audience was a mix of Job Sharers and HR managers from leading international NGOs in the UK.

    In an increasingly competitive market for top talent, charities and campaigning organisations need to be more creative with their hiring strategies. Quite often recruiting managers and human resource teams see anything non-conventional as a problem, rather than seeing and understanding that it can be a real positive.

    It is not only an issue for Job Share applications, but it also covers other non-conventional issues in recruiting. This includes older candidates, candidates moving from other sectors, and candidates with experience from other countries.

    This reaction against non-conventional candidates creates conservatism, with a small “c” in the sector. Quite often this means that the candidates selected for interviews are just junior versions of the recruiting manager. Therefore, the sector generally ends up with Individual, rather than job share candidates; 2-5 years younger than the recruiting manager, with similar (but less) UK based experience.

    All these restrictions act as negative filters that reduce the field of potential candidates whilst also damaging the opportunities for such applicants. However, what I really care about is that it damages the organisation as it reduces the chance of appointing the best people for the job. But to reduce this conservatism it needs to come from the top.

    So it is truly great that the Chief Executive of CARE International, Laurie Lee is involved with this project. It says a lot to Laurie’s and CARE International’s progressive understanding of the issue that he is involved.

    The conservatism in charity recruitment will be reduced if staff are positively encouraged by charity leaders to not discount non-conventional candidates too quickly.

    In terms of Job Share candidates, positive policy statements need to be made. Then they need to be shared, by discussing them and regularly reinforced to get a common understanding of the benefits that a Job Share can offer.

    Also externally, particularly for hard to recruit jobs, adverts could state that Job Share applications would be welcome.

    Only 6.2% of quality job vacancies are advertised with options to work flexibly. This compares poorly with the high demand for flexible work – 47% of the workforce want to work flexibly in some way.

    Additionally, there could be versions for job shares on application forms. Job Sharers could be rejected at application stage purely because an application form cannot accommodate the prospect of two people applying for one job.

    The issue for Job Shares is not just in recruitment – but this is where the biggest challenge lies. There also needs to be a progressive approach to allow Job Shares to happen for an organisation’s existing staff.

    The best route to working part-time in a job share is to go from full-time to part-time or to be in the right place for recruiting candidates for the other part of the job share. However, charity leaders need to be more open to this and appreciate the benefits.

    Charities wanting to maintain their leadership pipeline can’t afford to lose strong talent, especially their women, who generally make up the majority of their workforce. But job shares are not exclusively women – they are also parents, carers and disabled people.

    My main concern and the reason behind why I want to see change is that not maximising job sharing is bad for the organisations. But, having worked for Liberty and Amnesty International before starting The Right Ethos, I care about the rights of the individual too.

    Lack of job shares is unfair on the individual. Part-time workers earn less per hour than their full-time counterparts at every level of qualification. Highly talented people who need to work flexibly cannot do so at their level so are taking jobs below their level in order to find work that matches their needs. Even worse there are highly talented people who are not working but seeking part-time work.

    A progressive approach led by trustees and senior management is required – based on the primary, self-interested, motivation being the best talent available for the charity or campaigning organisation is maximised.

    This proactive approach will make HR and recruiting managers feel comfortable about promoting Job Shares. And not feeling that Job Shares applications are causing problems for their bosses and colleagues.

    And as you may be able to tell, I have my own personal agenda around Job Sharing. Most notably, with regards to the unfair treatment of highly talented individuals and the wasted opportunities that the campaigns I care about, don’t take in not being open to Job Shares.

    However, as a recruitment consultant, I have to work to my client’s agendas, not my own. So The Right Ethos ends up having a more conservative attitude to recruitment than we would wish to have. We do try and slip in unconventional highly talented candidates – but more often than not they get caught in the net of conformity.

    But there is some legislation that will hopefully focus the mind of senior management when it comes to flexible working.  From 6th April 2017, all businesses and charities with more than 250 employees are now legally required to collect data on the gap between the average hourly pay of the men and women who work there.

    Closing the gender pay gap will have a positive effect on the workplace as a whole in many ways, from basic issues of fairness and the benefits of a diverse workforce to the importance of having pathways that support women into senior roles.

    Here is an excerpt from the House of Common’s   Women and Equalities Committee’s 2016 report:

    “Flexible working for all lies at the heart of addressing the gender pay gap… A large part of the gender pay gap is down to women’s concentration in part-time work that doesn’t make use of their skill…. Old-fashioned approaches to flexibility in the workplace and a lack of support for those wishing to re-enter the labour market are also stopping employers from making the most of women’s talent and experience.”

    So for employers who are keen to address their gender pay gap, taking action to improve their flexible credentials is an excellent place to start.

    People who work in a flexible way tend to outperform from a productivity point of view and tend to stay longer and are more loyal. It’s not just about attracting talent but retaining it.

    It’s 2017 and things have got to change. Thus, I hope this group can play a major part in helping change things for fairness to individuals and for the good of the charity and campaigning sector.

  9. Sarah Corbett

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    Sarah Corbett

    Founding Director, Craftivist Collective

    What do you do?

    Everything! But I do also have wonderful volunteers who help at craftivism workshops and events. Plus, when I can, I subcontract photographers, filmmakers and designers to help me turn my visions into the best reality possible.

    What job did you want or think you would be doing when you were younger?

    I wanted to be an artist, carpenter and run ‘Corbett’s Cosy Café’ on the weekends.

    Who in the sector do you admire the most?

    So many! The Godfather of the UK charity sector Duncan Green obvs. The fearless Control Arms Director Anna Macdonald. The ‘Thoughtful Campaigner’ Tom Baker. My Scouse Shero Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group. The mighty Micah M. White who is a pioneer and critical friend to campaigners globally. If I had to pick one person it would be Ann Roach (IDAT) – she is everyone’s “nin” (i.e. grandmother) in West Everton where I was born and grew up – she continues to campaigns tirelessly for justice where structures and systems are stopping people fulfill their potential in our patch and I often ask myself “What would Ann do?” when I get stuck.

    What are the three most important attributes needed to do your job?

    I call my approach to activism ‘gentle protest’. It’s not weak and passive but about loving and encouraging activism. I would say to be a Gentle Protester you need: 1) To be mindful of the baggage you bring to your activism (whether that’s preconceived views on those directly effected by injustice or those in power) so you don’t let your baggage fog your strategy or cause barriers with those you are trying to engage. 2) Eye for detail – remember that language can be just as violent as physical actions, colour effects our emotions, even fonts can sway people. Be intentional in every element of your campaign from the way you greet people to sending them a follow up thank you letter for their time. Detail matters. 3) Act out your vision – if you want a more beautiful, kind and just world then make sure your activism is beautiful, kind and fair otherwise your campaign is offering opportunity for people to discredit your campaign and cause.

    What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

    I’m going to be cheeky and say two ‘rewards’: 1) Knowing that I helped challenge and change systems of injustice and oppression sometimes in a big way and sometimes small way alongside others. 2) Receiving messages online or in handwritten letters from people who say that they didn’t think they “fitted into activism” as shy, burnout, introverted or differently-abled people until they saw from my work that they could also do activism in a quiet, gentle, slow or introverted way that is just as valued and useful as other forms of activism.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in a role similar to yours?

    I don’t know any other full time craftivists and I had no idea I would be in this role so that’s a difficult one. But to anyone who wants to be a full time activist I would say do the tough, unglamorous work you won’t get any praise for at the beginning (and throughout your career if/when you can) but lays strong foundations for your future work. e.g. find a way to mobilise people to be at Parliament in Robin Hood Tax outfits giving out fake newspapers to politicians going into work 7am, go to meetings of those directly affected by injustices if you can (or read their stories), listen at the back and ask how you can help them not stand at the front and talk at people. Do everything you are asking supporters to do from meeting your MP to engaging with drunk people at festivals in your muddy wellies. Be mindful of slipping into the obvious campaign formulas without questioning them but also be aware of doing ‘wacky’ things for their own sake that don’t actually help your campaign.

    What is the best thing that you’ve been a part of during your career?

    I loved helping to shape and deliver the DFID-funded Platform2 programme, which engaged 18-25 year olds from ‘disadvantaged’ (I hate that term!) backgrounds in global poverty and campaigning. As a craftivist I feel privileged to lovingly challenge the charity sector (and the charity sector graciously listening) to offer more ‘gentle protest’ approaches within the activism toolkit to supporters and helping many organisations do just that in the charity sector and the arts sector. Such as offering slower forms of activism actions to engage more deeply and critically in the complexities of social justice, creating objects to provoke not preach at people on and offline about injustice, framing campaign asks using positive psychology elements and even offering gifts to power holders to encourage them to use their power for good rather than annoying them where possible. I am very grateful to still work with the charity sector: It’s a safe space to question and challenge each other in a respectful way because we are all part of a common cause.

    What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by organisations like yours in the present day?

    Boring answer but money: My work is about helping people transform into effective activists & campaigners not just to support Craftivist Collective campaigns but also other issues they care about locally and globally and help them think holistically about their impact as a global citizen. I purposefully don’t offer quick transactional actions that are easier to measure quantitative data because I think as a sector we are missing out on deep and critical engagement with people because it’s harder to measure that qualitative data. But grant-givers and individual donors often want evidence of quick and media-worthy wins which stunts the potential impact campaign organisations like mine can have that are less tangible but just as important. (IMHO)

    Aside from your current organisation, which other organisations do you admire and why?

    Greenpeace for always being a catalyst for conversation on issues that are often not in the news until Greenpeace shine a creative spotlight on them, ShareAction for their quieter activism that is often behind the scenes but has had life-saving results. Fashion Revolution for their what I call their ‘intriguing activism’ model that engages fashion-lovers to ask #whomademyclothes directly to brands via social media – their positive, non-judgemental and curios approach to activism attracts the audience the fashion industry is highly influenced by – the fashionistas!

    If you weren’t doing the job that you are doing currently, what do you think you would be doing instead?

    I’ve been an activist since I was 3 (squatting with my parents and community to save local social housing in Everton – which we won), my degree focused on social change through religions and theology and I’ve only ever worked in campaigning and public engagement so no one would employ me! I was a shop girl from the age of 13 years until my first proper salaried job in the charity sector so maybe I could go back into that? In the near future I would maybe like to teach creative campaigning at universities (I do that ad hoc at different uni’s around the world) but only if I could continue to be a practicing campaigner too. Activist for life for sure!

    To learn more about Craftivist Collective, visit the website or follow their campaign on Twitter & Instagram.

  10. Lisa Nathan

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     Lisa Nathan

    Programme Manager – Good Work, ShareAction

    Why do you do your job?

    I am passionate about making sure people have the best possible lives at work, but too often big companies aren’t held accountable for creating quality jobs. I’m drawn to the approach of ShareAction in focusing on the investment system because investors, like our pension funds, have an important role to play to help tackle that challenge. Through their influence over the companies they invest in, they have the power to encourage companies to create quality jobs. After all, money talks!

    What job did you want or think you would be doing when you were younger?

    When I was younger, I was more interested in the role of governments than the private sector, so was interested in roles within politics or policy advocacy.

    Who in the sector do you admire the most?

    I’m a huge fan of the work of Sarah Corbett at the Craftivist Collective – she’s a delight to work with and her approach is really moving campaigning forward by thoughtfully and artistically engaging with decision-makers as people!

    What are the three most important attributes needed to do your job?

    For my role, the three most important attributes are: 1) Being able to build strong relationships with a wide variety of people, 2) Being up for constant learning and 3) Being happy with and able to manage a variety of tasks and projects!

    What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

    In the big picture, I find the impact this work the most rewarding – it’s amazing how powerful working with investors can be. On the day to day, I find nothing more rewarding than being able to introduce brilliant people who might work in very different roles but could really benefit from being in touch.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in a role similar to yours?

    Nothing has helped me learn more than being open to feedback and asking for it! I find just talking to people the most valuable way of learning about new perspectives and approaches, and to digging into the details of why and how you could have approached something differently.

    What is the best thing that you’ve been a part of during your career?

    Getting investors behind the Living Wage campaign has been incredibly exciting – I never would have imagined it would get the traction it eventually did. It was so cool to see what a powerful alliance built up, and filled with lovely and passionate people.

    What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by organisations like yours in the present day?

    I think there is a big challenge in the grant funding model for charities. Short grants for new work make it difficult to stick with campaigns long enough to see them through!

    Aside from your current organisation, which other organisations do you admire and why?

    I’m so inspired by the work of Global Witness and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. For me, they both embody the spirit of doing great work in research and building up expertise, and working through a combination of strategies to make sure this research and expertise go to practical use to make change happen.

    If you weren’t doing the job that you are doing currently, what do you think you would be doing instead?

    A psychotherapist or counsellor.

  11. SMK 2017 Campaigner Awards Speech

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    On Thursday 23rd March, The Right Ethos sponsored the Economic Justice Award at the Sheila McKechnie Campaigners Awards.

    “I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to present this award tonight. Sheila McKechnie was someone who I admired for a number of years, before I started to working at Shelter whilst she was their Director.I was drawn to Shelter because it was a Campaign – the National Campaign for Homeless people – Not just a charity. I wanted to be part of gaining justice and righting wrongs. And SMK was for me the embodiment of this with her passion and commitment to counter homelessness.

    In the 1990s – generally charities did not campaign – they didn’t think they were allowed to or that donors would approve. Thankfully, for me and The Right Ethos – this changed and in the new millennium the SMK Foundation and The Right Ethos was formed and we’ve grown up alongside each other over the last decade.

    The Economic Justice Award  is a very appropriate award for The Right Ethos to sponsor. Since 2007, we have been supporting organisations to find the best possible campaigns and communications staff for their organisation. And helping these candidates to develop their career and find a workplace that suits their ethos and values.

    The Economic Justice Award recognises campaigners that have brought about lasting positive change relating in the workplace e.g. tackling exploitation and discrimination in the workplace, and improving workers’ rights and benefits.

    Runners up of this Award are:

    – Heather Kennedy and the Fair Funerals campaign which aims to seek an end to the underlying causes of funeral poverty.

    – Danielle Tiplady for the Bursary or Bust campaign who has campaigned to protect the bursary funding available for nursing and midwifery students.

    This is a joint Award and the winners are Lisa Nathan and Sarah Corbett, who have both campaigned for the uptake of the Living Wage.

     When Lisa Nathan became project lead of the Share Action campaign to increase the uptake of Living Wage accreditation am
    ong companies in the FTSE100, only six companies in the FTSE100 were accredited Living Wage employers. This number now stands at 30 and as a result of Lisa’s work, at least 12,000 workers now earn the Living Wage.

    –  Sarah Corbett and the Craftivist Collective joined forces with ShareAction to call on Marks and Spencer’s to pay the Living Wage. After coordinating a series of ‘stitch-ins’ at branches of Marks & Spencer across the UK, the company announced its plan to increase staff pay to £8.50 per hour in UK stores and £9.65 per hour in greater London from April 2017

    So, I’m delighted to present this award to Lisa Nathan and Sarah Corbett.”

    Find out more about all the winners at the SMK Awards 2017.

  12. Sheila Take a Bow

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    Sheila McKechnie – A tribute

    The first time I saw Sheila McKechnie it was on TV. In 1988, I was at university in Exeter hoping to become a primary school teacher. Sheila was this powerful force on BBC’s Question Time – determined, committed and principled. Sir Robin Day chairing the panel, attempting to contain her, but not always succeeding.

    I had just started getting involved with my student union and my world was opening up for the first time. And I began to wonder if there was something other than teaching that I could do.

    5 years passed, I finished my degree. I had completed a year as a Student Union sabbatical and I had gone around the world.

    Now, I was in London, and I started volunteering in the Public Affairs team at Shelter. I was a purist back then. I wouldn’t have volunteered for a charity. Back then, charities largely didn’t campaign. No, I would only volunteer for a campaign. And Shelter was the National Campaign for Homeless People.

    I met Sheila first in an induction meeting with two other newcomers to Shelter. It was an rousing 15 minutes, where she told us what she wanted to achieve to improve the homelessness situation and how our roles, and how we could play a part in this.

    My desk at Shelter was situated nearest to Sheila’s PA – and though too junior for her to need to interact with me regularly, I got a strong flavour of her work, her interactions and her passion for her campaigning.

    The world of campaigning has ballooned in the last 20 years – and setting up The Right Ethos 10 years ago was part of it.

    We need more like Sheila McKechnie – more leaders from the charity sector, who have an impact publically on the national agenda. Particularly now in this febrile political climate.

    It seems that the personalities and leaders that are being followed are not promoting the social agenda that many of us entered the campaigning and charity sector in the first place.

  13. Journey into campaigning

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    by Amina Khatan

    Choosing a degree in politics naturally meant I was inclined towards the world of activism and campaigns. My first biggest opportunity struck with an internship at the Institute of Public Policy Research, where I was based for five months, researching major social issues. My experience there was fantastic; an excellent platform for those interested in connecting rigorous academic research to policy solutions.

    I was keen to make my next career move a ‘campaign-based’ one and so then came; UNISON, the public service union. My move into trade unions was totally new! I knew little about them, but quickly picked things up through a supportive network of colleagues. I am till today involved in the movement – that fights for such an important cause of employment rights and protections.

    My next step at Bliss, the special care baby charity, was a great insight into NGO’s and the healthcare sector. Following this, I gained a further promotion as a Senior in the voluntary and community sector, in Kensington and Chelsea, working on a major housing campaign and elections work. I have been fortunate to have had such a diverse breadth of experiences in the world of campaigns, locally and nationally working to champion major social justice issues.

    My recommendations to those entering the campaigns scene or moving up the chain are below:

    • Brainstorm the type of causes you care about – and what type of organisations excite you.
    • Work with a mentor or career coach for guidance throughout.
    • Benefit from getting involved in voluntary campaign schemes: such as UpRising or Aspire.
    • Take opportunities to always develop your learning and skills.
    • Share and celebrate your successes and achievements at work and beyond.

    Good luck!

  14. Campaigning, Lobbying & Brexit – our analysis for the next 4 years

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    The Right Ethos’ recent survey responding to Brexit was understandably one of doom and gloom. Threats to funding and uncertainty about the status of staff from within the EU being able to work in the UK in the future are real concerns for the charity and non-profit sector.

    But it could be a hectic and remarkable time ahead for campaigners and charity lobbyists. With threats to be countered and opportunities to be taken.

    In the short term, there is new Prime Minister, a raft of new cabinet ministers and a different government agenda. Together with a potential change in the Labour leadership – which could even lead to a total re-alignment in non-Conservative politics in the UK – this could be a momentous opportunity for many charities looking to affect public policy. And being able to develop relationships with the new leaders and decision makers in government and opposition will be crucial.

    In the medium term, with Brexit, a whole multitude of laws made in Brussels will now need to be supplanted by Westminster, and this could mean substantial opportunities for charities to form future public policy.

    For example, a massive amount of environmental policies come from the EU, so it could be a busy time for Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and others.

    But, it isn’t just the environmental and conservation organisations that it will effect. We can debate how many millions of pounds are actually going to the EU each week. But, with Brexit, there will be a large proportion of this money will in the future be spent by the UK government. And getting your voice heard to ensure that your organisation is going to receive some of this funding or that the government spends it in favour of your beneficiaries will be essential. It could be that you are just defending your current funding level or fighting to keep any of it. But in some cases it could mean actually advancing your position from extra funding as it’s more in line with the UK government’s priorities than it was with those of the EU.

    I, like 89% of the campaigns and communications sector, according to our survey, voted to Remain. And I campaigned for it, but sadly wished I had done more.

    However, because of Brexit and its effects, The Right Ethos – with our focus on recruitment for roles in campaigns, policy, public affairs and communications staff – expects to be particularly busy over the remaining years of this decade, as the investment and demand for campaigns and public affairs staff will inevitably increase.

  15. How does your salary & CV compare?

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    We’ve been doing some analysis of the figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The latest figures on the graduate labour market were released this week.

    From this we’ve found that the average salary for a graduate at:

    26 years old is £24,000
    43 years old is £31,500

    The average salary of all 43 year olds in full-time paid employment would be significantly higher. As you need to take into account what many 43 years olds are up to at this stage of life. Many are parents and not in work. This is also an age where people are beginning to leave London and so earn less. If you want to find out what your value is in the UK market place – not just in the charity sector, then this website may be a bit of fun. Upload your CV and they will assess your skills.

    If you do so, please send me your figures – the difference between your current salary in the not-for-profit sector and what the website thinks. Value your CV:

    If I get enough feedback, then I will provide some information on the difference. All feedback will be in strict confidence and I will not use the figures individually, just collectively to see what averages are.

    Please email it to

  16. Merged breast cancer charity unveils name, Breast Cancer Now

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    Governance | Hugh Radojev | 15th June 2015

    Breast Cancer Now, which was formed by the merger of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Campaign, has launched today with a new ad campaign and the ambition to “stop breast cancer deaths by 2050”.

    The new organisation, which will have an income of around £27m, according to the latest accounts filed with the Charity Commission, has unveiled its logo and branding today.

    According to a statement, the new name and brand: “conveys the urgency required to stop women in the UK dying from breast cancer. Its mark representing the endeavour, dedication and hearts of the supporters and researchers behind the charity’s life-saving work.”
    The brand was created by London-based creative consultancy The Clearing.

    Fiona Hazell, director of communications and engagement at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s great finally to share our new name and identity; today marks the start of a new era.

    “We have the brightest scientific minds across the UK already working hard behind the scenes to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to stop it taking lives. We want everybody who’s been touched by breast cancer to join us, to stop lives being lost to this terrible disease for good.”

    The charity wouldn’t say how much the new branding cost to create, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now told Civil Society News: “The Clearing tendered for the work as part of a four-way pitch process, and we therefore secured their time and expertise at a very competitive rate – they significantly discounted their usual fee for this project.”

    Breast Cancer Now’s first television advert (embedded below) portrays real breast cancer sufferers and outlines the charity’s aim to end breast cancer by 2050.

    Breast Cancer Now would not disclose the cost of the ad, but Morgan said: “The brand launch campaign will generate significant income for the charity, and we have also been able to maximise our spend across the campaign – which runs from June until November – by working with some agencies and media owners through discounted rates, or even completely pro-bono. We’ve also used our in-house expertise wherever possible to minimise costs even further.”

    When asked about the organisation’s plans for the rest of the year, Morgan said: “This year, we’ll be focusing on secondary breast cancer – where breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body – which is currently incurable. It kills nearly 12,000 women a year and there is so much in research, treatment and care that we need to improve.

    “We’ll be looking to build on existing collaborations with corporate partners and other charities and institutions, as well as developing new ones, to make this happen.”

  17. Breast cancer charity merger is right – but it’s hard to lose good colleagues

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    Baroness Delyth Morgan | Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now | Friday 26 June 2015

    Because of the research progress that’s been made on breast cancer in the last 25 years, the disease is now far better understood and the ongoing challenge to overcome it has become much more clearly defined.

    That is why in 2013, when Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer published five-year strategies, we had very similar aims. Both organisations committed to putting an end to breast cancer deaths in the UK, and it became apparent that our strategies around how to do that were complementary.

    We were both working to prevent breast cancer, improve early diagnosis and develop new treatments for all subtypes of the disease. We also shared a determination to boost research efforts into secondary breast cancer, where the disease spreads to another part of the body and which is currently incurable.

    It had become possible to plot the course of the future for breast cancer research and, with such similar strategic aims, it became clear that merging would lead to faster progress in research and a stronger voice for breast cancer patients. It made sense to unite our ambition, as Breast Cancer Now.

    How we made it work

    This was a merger motivated by scientific strategy rather than by financial necessity, although one of the benefits of uniting will be the opportunity to use our supporters’ money more efficiently. And it was also crucial to deliver the merger at pace; announcing in mid-November and launching Breast Cancer Now by mid-June was a very deliberate decision.

    We wanted to create a breast cancer research charity of scale, but where there was duplication, we have had to reduce our headcount. There has been a total reduction of approximately 25% in posts. While building a structure that would enable us to realise our strategic vision was crucial, saying goodbye to close colleagues – some of whom had been with our legacy organisations for over a decade – was really hard.

    Our staff needed little persuading of the rationale, but effective internal communication around the process has been very important. Our approach, at each stage, has been to tell our “nearest and dearest” first, holding monthly briefings from the chief executives, circulating weekly email updates, and using regular staff surveys to gather feedback and help us understand areas of concern. We are also undertaking a culture audit to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each legacy charity’s environments.

    Throughout, we tried to remain both driven and reassured by the fact that we knew it was the right thing to do for women with breast cancer. Our beneficiaries, supporters and partners have been at the heart of the decisions we’ve made. They’ve informed key decisions, in the run-up to merger through to our brand development and launch, and this is something we’ll certainly be continuing with as part of an ongoing stakeholder engagement programme.

    Other charities should consider it too

    Since we first announced our intention to merge, I have been asked frequently for my opinion on duplication and competition in the sector. Every situation is different of course, and our two charities found themselves in a very specific moment of resonance, but what I would say is that merging within the sector should be talked about more positively. It should be seen as a real opportunity, enabling organisations to reach common goals faster together, rather than a sign of weakness.

    More could certainly be done to help charities who would like to investigate merging; there needs to be better guidance available, as well as more open and positive dialogue on the subject within the sector. For those charities considering merging, I would simply urge they ensure that uniting is unquestionably the right thing for themselves and their beneficiaries. For us, it absolutely was.

    Our future as one charity

    In terms of the kind of organisation we want to be, collaboration will be the key to everything Breast Cancer Now does, from our approach to research to our campaigning and fundraising. Continuing to connect our staff to the purpose of our charity will also be vital. It is so important to me that they have a real sense of ownership and are able to talk about breast cancer in their terms – particularly as many already have a close personal connection to the cause.

    The beating heart of Breast Cancer Now will always be our wonderful supporters, from our regional fundraising groups to our strategic partners. We are delighted that the two sets of passionate supporters we brought together have responded so positively to our new identity and vision. And, that they no longer have to decide which breast cancer research charity to support.

    Together, we are now defined by a bold and united cause. As portrayed in our launch campaign, The Last One, we believe that if we act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live. But we simply cannot do this alone. If we are to finally stop women dying from breast cancer, we will need everyone involved in and affected by the disease to stand with us, now.


  18. How to build a cancer charity brand from scratch

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    Shona Ghosh | 11th February 2015

    Two major breast cancer charities, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Campaign, have merged, with a new entity set to launch in May.

    Both charities focus on research, with Breakthrough Breast Cancer running its own research centre, and Breast Cancer Campaign funding scientists through grants.

    The new, merged charity has yet to be named, but will face a challenge differentiating itself from rivals such as the Pink Ribbon Foundation and Breast Cancer Care.

    There’s also competition from bigger players such as Cancer Research UK and Macmillan, though neither specialise in breast cancer.

    Standing out:

    Fiona Hazell, director of communications for Breast Cancer Campaign, told Marketing one of the most important goals was to eradicate “confusion” about how the public can support breast cancer research.

    She said: “The biggest challenge facing us is creating a single-minded proposition that affects all those affected by breast cancer, which works across multi-channels and sits at the heart of our fundraising.”

    “We are targeting everybody in the UK who is, or has been, affected by breast cancer, as well as researchers looking for funding and supporters helping us to spread the word and raise funds.”

    Hazell name-checked Macmillan as a particularly strong player in an already crowded market. A key difference, however, is that Macmillan provides support to existing cancer sufferers, rather than focusing on prevention.

    She said: “All charities face differentiation challenges, of course, and the cancer charity market in particular has a number of very high profile, very strong players.”

    Currently, a team comprising employees of both charities has been tasked with building the new brand with the help of agency The Clearing. It isn’t clear how the marketing team at the new brand will look.

    Hazell said: “The intention behind the merger is not to reduce headcount but we are, of course, duty bound to ensure we’re making the most of supporters’ money.”

    “Where we find that there’s duplication, unfortunately we will have to make redundancies to ensure that we are using supporters’ money as efficiently as possible.”

    She said the team had drawn inspiration from existing brands, such as Prostate Cancer UK, whose nimble, “single-minded” marketing efforts have successfully boosted public interest in men’s health.

    Emotive messaging:

    Jonathan Hubbard, creative director at The Clearing, said the new charity would likely rely heavily on emotive messaging.
    He said the charity would prioritise disabusing the public of the notion that breast cancer research was “a done deal”.
    He said: “Breast cancer is still out there, and it’s devastating, and that’s what this charity needs to stand for.”
    Budget limitations means the charity will prioritise digital channels and its existing communities, rather than traditional media, Hubbard added.

  19. Burma – Campaign Success! A “true benefit”

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    As a recruiter, one of the key questions that I ask a campaigner is “tell me about your main success in this role?”

    Sometimes they are significant and impressive. Often, even for campaigners with over 5 years experience they are not substantial. Such as “we set up a meeting with this key MP” or “we got access to this funding to allow us to campaign more”

    When you’re selling anything, and in this case these campaigners are selling themselves onto a future employer, then you need to focus on the “benefits” not the “features”. And many mid-range campaigners have careers which are full of “features”. Only the best campaigners have a good number of successes which are real “benefits”. This can mean changing laws or attitudes that changes beneficiary’s lives.

    But as we speak, two campaigners, who you probably haven’t heard of, based in a small office in Shoreditch, have played a crucial part in potentially providing history-changing and fundamental benefits to millions of people’s lives in Burma.

    Anna Roberts and Mark Farmaner – who are the Executive Director and Director, respectively, of the Burma Campaign UK have devoted the last 14 years of their lives to gaining democracy in Burma.

    For just over a year, as I set up The Right Ethos, I worked a day a week at the Burma Campaign UK and saw their commitment and determination to win the campaign.

    They ensured that Burmese people living in the UK were at the heart of their campaigning – people like Zoya Phan and Wai Hnin Pwint Thon – whose personal stories of how they ended up in the UK and are fighting for freedom for Burma are beyond inspiring.

    I’m absolutely certain that Anna and Mark are not celebrating at the moment – although the TV news shows thousands celebrating on the streets of Rangoon and elsewhere in Burma. They are focussed on gaining a sustainable freedom and a strong democracy, which does not include the military having any power and instead answering to the people.

    The Burma Campaign website gives only messages of caution rather than celebration. Perhaps a bit harsh on its supporters who have perhaps deserve to start feeling good about these positive steps forward in Burma.

    It’s been quoted that the Burma Campaign UK is the world’s leading organisation dedicated to campaigning for freedom and democracy in Burma.

    And latterly this is down to Anna Roberts and Mark Farmaner. What’s happening in Burma are real campaign successes for Anna and Mark personally – perhaps not the ultimate success

    I sincerely hope one day that they will do themselves out of their own jobs – this is the ultimate success for any campaign.

    Other campaigning organisations should have them on their radar for the future – they’d be lucky to have them within their ranks.

  20. Michelle Soan

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    Michelle Soan

    Whilst Head of Mobilisation at MacMillan Cancer Support

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
    Alzheimer’s charities – they have executed impressive campaigns for access to treatments targeted at NICE, at the same time as raising the profile of a devastating condition.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?
    It’s hard to pick one person, but Marjorie Wallace, SANE’s chief executive has done a huge amount for mental health, which is sadly still seen as a taboo, despite how common it is. Going back in history I have huge admiration and respect for the Suffragettes, namely Emily Davidson who threw herself under the Kings horse in the name of votes for women.

    Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?
    Not that I’d admit to in public. However, even organisations for issues I disagree with add something to the debate, so I wouldn’t like to see the back of any of them as I believe in freedom of speech.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Try new things and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also, look at what other organisations are doing and learn what works and what doesn’t. I have always found it very useful to join the campaign networks of other organisations as a great way to benchmark our activity.

    What three things make a good campaigner?
    Good communication skills, desire to try new ideas, and flexibility – willing to change strategy and tactics to react to the changing environment

    Which of these three do you have most of?
    I would say communication skills. In order to run successful campaigns it’s essential to engage and motivate a team that you don’t line manage. I believe the key to that is building good relationships and communicating effectively with the team and all stakeholders (internally and externally).

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?
    I think generally there can be a reluctance to trying new ideas and taking risks, but this may not be about the individual and more about organisations not being open to new ideas in case they don’t succeed. New ways to campaign are constantly evolving, particularly with the rapid growth of online social media opportunities. I think you need to be bold and take risks to keep campaigns fresh. I’ve been fortunate that I have been able to, but it requires you to be very persuasive.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career?If so, what’s changed?
    I’d like to think so. There are still some out there who think it’s just down to PR stunts, but there is so much expertise out there and new technology that it’s exciting to see what organisations are doing.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    Working in the media – I love the buzz and unpredictable nature of it.

  21. Senegal 15

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    I recently helped to run an advocacy workshop on migration in Dakar, Senegal. It was a great event with representatives from African, European and Middle Eastern countries.

    Unlike many events that I’ve been involved in running advocacy training this event seemed really special because the vast majority had little or no prior experience of advocacy. So therefore the initial focus was a lot about de-mystifying the concept of advocacy.

    This involved trying simply to define advocacy in terms of problem, solution, target and then seeking to influence that target. We then introduced some basic advocacy tools such as the influence tree and the theory of change, and then we supported delegates to begin to develop their own country specific advocacy strategy.

    I was really struck by a woman from one North African country, who said to me that all of these ideas had been in her head and that she had wanted to do things in the past, but a framework approach to advocacy had helped structure her thinking to move things forward.

    As these advocacy strategies began to develop, a colleague came up to me concerned about the development of one particular country specific advocacy strategy. This country’s representatives were focusing on the need to develop a migrant reception centre, and my colleague was concerned that this was not an appropriate response to the advocacy question.

    I was interested nonetheless that this was their initial humanitarian concern and their preferred response to this particular crisis. I suggested that this was an appropriate response, but having developed a reception centre and having begun to provide support in the reception centre that such an operational service could then provide the essential ingredients and evidence for advocacy on this issue.

    So that a theory of change could initially include their aspirations to get support for a reception centre and then to begin to run a reception centre, but I would then like to think that the theory of change would include the opportunities for advocacy based on the operational experience of running that reception centre.

    I am continually interested at the overlap and interplay between delivering direct operational services and the need for advocacy. I often talk about them being two sides of the same coin. This is hardly a unique insight, but it is really important to see them as being and having a very close relationship. At the Red Cross we talk about our preferred instinct to respond to an operational crisis is to get directly involved and to deliver direct humanitarian support; however when those services alone are not enough to deal with the problem that is when we will advocate and push for policy and practice change.

    I was really interested to see at such an advocacy workshop on migration how many people’s understandable first preference was to deliver direct services to help people in crisis; however the challenge has to be that very often direct services are not enough to deal with the problem, certainly when they are as big as the current global migration issue, and that is why advocacy campaigning is so, so important.

  22. Claire Bass

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    Claire Bass

    Whilst Head of Wildlife Campaigns at the World Society for the Protection of Animals


    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    I admire the Environmental Investigation Agency a great deal, they punch way above their weight as a small organisation. They strike a good balance between work on long-term strategies and objectives while retaining the flexibility to act quickly in response to reactive opportunities.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    In the animal protection NGO movement I think yes, we are getting a lot more professional. Ten or more years ago the animal protection movement’s activities were often driven by righteous indignation, and an expectation that simply exposing problems in a report or a video on a website would stop cruelty. I think there’s a greater focus by many groups now on strategy, identifying and communicating effectively with key audiences, and on measuring impacts for animals, rather than volume of protest.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group made a huge impression on me when I saw her speak at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s People Power event earlier this year. Her tenacity and unerring conviction that they would achieve justice, even in the face of such formidable and unyielding opposition and countless roadblocks, was truly inspiring.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    Focus, empathy, tenacity.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    A few years ago we co-ordinated a very complex global public action to get people to ask their governments to vote against a proposal to partially lift the international ban on commercial whaling. Enabling multi-lingual protest, and working with more than forty other NGOs to ensure maximum public and media outreach in their respective countries, was challenging but ultimately extremely rewarding. Countries who had been considering the proposal ultimately rejected it in response to the public opposition; one Commissioner publicly cited our action as a clear indication from home that his ‘room to negotiate was not large’.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    I would hope to see more campaigns creating market incentives for positive action – campaigns which equip consumers and investors to make ethical choices with their money. If campaigners can continue to extract greater transparency in supply chains, exposing the impacts of certain products and practices on people, animals and the environment, I think there exists an opportunity to make that information easily available to consumers.
    If the way that people’s buying or investing choices are affected – either negatively or positively – is then clearly and quantitatively fed back to companies, this could help create more market imperatives for positive policy changes. It would be great to see more alliances developing between different NGO sectors to pool this sort of information, so that a consumer could have easy access to a company or product’s overall ‘ethical footprint’.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    There’s a lot of good literature on theories of campaigning, behaviour change etc now, many advocating very different approaches based on whether your end goal is to change hearts, minds, or actions, or a combination of the three. I’d say read up and talk to your new colleagues about which philosophies and tactics they favour and why.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    Maybe an investigative journalist.

  23. Should all charities merge their communication and fundraising teams?

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    There has long been an issue, and even on occasions minor conflict, between Communications/Campaigning departments and Fundraising departments. Over the 22 years that I’ve worked inside organisations like Shelter, Save the Children and Amnesty, I’ve seen this happen.

    However, the teams or departments shouldn’t be merged. The motivations and the skillsets of the leaders of the two teams are often different. The skills crossover, but fundamentally a fundraiser needs to push the boundaries in order to maximise income and will feel the pressure to do so. A communications/campaigns leader may be able to focus more on long term objectives about change.
    Also, what we see at our recruitment consultancy, The Right Ethos, is that when it comes down to employing staff, people like to specialise still. As a CEO, people are happy to oversee specialist people leading Fundraising or Communications. But, if they are a Communications practioner for example, then they would prefer not to be responsible for the fundraising side.

    Hence The Right Ethos specialises on recruiting for roles in Communications & Campaigning.
    What is important is that the two Directors or Heads of the respective departments work well together and share objectives – and are supported and lead properly by their line manager/CEO.
    This blog was in response to an article in the Guardian ‘Should all charities merge their communication and fundraising teams?’ Wednesday 24 June 2015. Click Here for full article

  24. Great question

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    I was asked a great question the other day: who needs to know about the impact of your advocacy campaigns?

    It stopped me in my tracks, and did give me food for thought. When I started my campaigning work at Oxfam, I remember being keen for public recognition of the role that Oxfam was playing in any campaign. I was involved in the campaign to abolish supermarket vouchers for asylum seekers almost 15 years ago now, and while it was a successful campaign involving many organisations, I still wanted some public recognition along side others of the role that Oxfam was playing.

    I wasn’t that obsessed by the need for profile, but I did want some degree of external recognition for Oxfam. Although I remember some of my colleagues wanting more profile for the organisation. I will never forget the degree of concern there was when I arranged a press conference on the issue, which included the British Medical Association and the Transport and General Workers’ Union – but without Oxfam. I do think that there will be stages of a campaign where you will make judgments that your organisation is not needed. But not withstanding that point, I still wanted recognition for Oxfam.

    Now at the Red Cross, I am interested to observe how, with the benefit of age perhaps, I have changed my thinking. We are seeking to influence government policy on the section 4 azure payment card for asylum seekers – a sad carry-over from the former vouchers scheme.

    I now find myself less concerned about public recognition of the role played by my organisation. My increasing focus is on the humanitarian suffering caused by this payment card and pushing for a return to cash payments for this group of people.

    Yet I do realise that there are important audiences from whom I do still want some recognition for the role of the Red Cross. Chief amongst that audience are our staff and volunteers – and indeed our wider supporter base. I would also be keen for the key Parliamentarians to know about our work to help us build credibility for future engagement.

    The information that I would like to convey is less about our impact but more about our progress with our theory of change. By this piece of jargon I basically mean telling the story of the campaign. The more I do this work the more I see successful campaigning is about being able to tell the story of your campaign. Such a story will include both the past and the future.

    So I hope to convey to my key audience the journey that we have covered to date and then the future direction we plan for our campaign. And with any such story there will be breakthroughs and set-backs – the campaign story needs to include both but always with a focus on the new future direction.

    For me now in my campaigning, recognition is less important, but the significance of telling the campaign story is even more needed that ever. Do you involve story telling in your campaigning?

  25. Sarah Williams

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    Campaigns Manager, Living Streets

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?

    There are many but Shelter often stand out for me. Their approach is extremely focused and strategic. They’ve done a fantastic job at getting housing the political prominence it needs.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?

    Mark Thomas. He has a great mix of humour, tenacity, fantastic ideas and a novel way of sharing news of his campaigns beyond a traditional audience.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I don’t know if they’re better, but I think they’re adapting well to a changing landscape. If I think about the history of campaigning organisations I’ve been involved with, they have always successfully fought for things that matter.
    What is exciting is the speed at which some campaigns can take off, and the ease that digital platforms can offer for engagement. I think organisations are getting better at using these. Rethink’s Find Mike campaign was a great example of a compelling story, a simple message and an easy action.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    Probably similar to those that Mark Thomas has; Tenacity, a sense of humour and an ability to target and focus well.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    There are so many! Just before I left Parkinson’s UK I worked with local campaigners to successfully campaign for a Parkinson’s nurse. They had been trying for over two years and there was no specialist care in place when they asked me to help.
    I came in to help them think a bit differently, but made sure that the local campaigners were still at the forefront. Within three months they had an agreement to get a new Parkinson’s nurse in place. I love knowing that the people I worked with will see things improve for them and the ones they love.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    I think we’ll see a lot more high profile individual campaigns because of social media and platforms like The personal stories will be the ones that get attention and are widely shared.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Get involved and make mistakes. Don’t worry about trying things out, sometimes the things you’re sure are going to work well don’t – and vice versa. Find other people and organisations that you admire and talk to them to find out what they do and how they do it.
    I think that’s the same advice for people at any stage of their campaigning career.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    Probably working in Corporate Social Responsibility for businesses helping them to change from the inside.

  26. Barbara Crowther

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    Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Fairtrade Foundation

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    So many! Greenpeace continues to be both brave and innovative – not least the Russian illegal detention of the Arctic Sunrise 30, but also their ability to drive serious issues with a sense of fun – I loved their Star Wars campaign to turn Volkswagen from the ‘dark side’ and the Chainsaw Barbie campaign to Mattel. I’m impressed how38 Degrees has woken everyone up to the power of online in driving nimbleness and democratisation of mass-scale campaigning that every organisation can learn from, and springboarding from online to focussed local organisation and direct action. Traidcraft did an awesome job as part of the successful campaign to win the establishment of a Grocery Code Adjudicator – a supermarket watchdog with teeth – and continues to plug away solidly on trade justice issues where many other NGOs have flagged!

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I think campaigns have got smarter in terms of pushing for specific policy or public goals, and in being creative in how they seek to reach the public and their targets. I do think we’ve lost ground a little on local and grassroots organisation – traditional NGO campaigning has become much more individual action oriented, but at Fairtrade, we have great experience of the power of local mobilisation. Fairtrade towns campaigns have been the backbone of building public awareness and applying change and pressure on companies and public authorities, and we’re proud of that!

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    It’s probably clichéd right now to say it, but Malala is pretty awesome – such bravery and such maturity at such a young age. She never asked to be in a global spotlight, and I have occasionally worried about Western media or political manipulation. But you only have to listen to one interview with her to know that she has all the great qualities of a legendary social justice campaigner. Loved her response to the Nobel Peace Prize outcome – that winning peace is more important than winning prizes!

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    Firstly vision – a clear sense of the change you seek – vision requires you also to understand the world and power dynamics you’re dealing with. Second, dogged perseverance – very few campaigns are won overnight and most get knockbacks, so refusing to give up, and looking for new ways around obstacles is critical. Thirdly, creative flexibility – being able to react and adjust plans if they’re not working, or find a new creative way of bringing the campaign alive again if it’s flagging, or seizing quickly on a new opportunity you hadn’t seen at the outset.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    The massive mobilisation for Jubilee 2000/Drop the Debt Campaign from 1997-2002 was a pretty exciting time for international development and economic justice campaigning. With hindsight, we didn’t always get it right, and of course it’s still not been won, but it was an amazing global effort, especially in the global South, and delivered some good progress in writing down some of the excessive debt burdens and challenging the nature of conditions being imposed. Our campaign for Fairtrade bananas since 2000 has been pretty successful – around 1 in 3 bananas sold today are Fairtrade – and we’ve had great fun with it, but more to the point, I’ve had the privilege of seeing its positive impact for banana farmers and workers. Again we’ve not yet reached our goal and need to turn the tables now – campaign for there to be no unfair bananas left in the UK, until the industry as a whole is delivering living wages and sustainable livelihoods for banana workers and farmers. If we can do that on bananas, it could be an iconic victory that could spill over to other global supply chains and business practices.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    There’s going to be a push for even greater transparency of information and decision making, at local, national and international level – whether it’s campaigning health or child welfare, or private sector responsibility and corporate accountability or local and national government policy. People will take more matters into their own hands as we go further into an open access era of campaigning – technology is putting more power to campaign in the hands of many more people, by making information more accessible, creating new networks that transcend local or national boundaries, but also potentially to find their own solutions through peer-to-peer or shared economy, as we’re seeing in lending, community energy generation, car sharing etc. In Fairtrade we’re calling it ‘Unlocking the Power of the Many’!

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Get stuck in with both your heart and your head – focus on something you really believe in and care about, but also make sure you do the hard graft study of the politics and the gritty details, so you know your stuff and can apply political intelligence alongside your passion for change. If you’re just setting out and seeking a first step on the ladder, consider volunteering or an internship with a campaigning organisation or team – I know many people who gave their time in the first instance, built up their skills, knowledge and experience, started at the bottom but went on to paid campaigning roles in organisations they have really wanted to work for.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?


  27. Patrick Olszowski

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    Patrick Olszowski

    Whilst Head of Campaigns and Policy, Stroke Association


    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?

    Global Witness have brought significant change to the international trade in diamonds and are currently involved in an important case around NGO investigations and data protection.
    While they appear fearless in the face of challenge, I am sure there must be moments of abject fear when they are engaging with powerful interests. This is common for all of us who campaign and the key is to use anxiety as a way of learning.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?

    The campaigners I most admire are the Greenpeace team who scaled the Shard in London. This bold action helped draw attention to drilling in the Arctic and was a brilliant example of individual bravery sparking storytelling, leading to public mobilisation, brand building and donation.

    Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?

    Speaking personally, I am not a fan of the record industry lobby. They helped bring in the Digital Economy Act and as someone who firmly believes in the right to a fair trial (this law was proposing to disconnect people from the internet), they would have to be my choice.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Before you take action, think about how you want the world to be different and then work backwards from there.
    Most campaigning is about relationships, understanding who people are, what motivates them, the constraints they operate under and then (and only then) working out how to shift them from one place to another.

    What three things make a good campaigner?

    1) Being able to craft compelling stories.
    2) Being able to separate people from the power. This is about a cold headed and rational power analysis. Where is the decision made, who makes it, who influences these people, who do I know, who am I going to speak to first?
    3) Recognising that changing the world is just as much about fundraising, service delivery and service improvement as it is about public affairs and mobilisation.

    Which of these three do you have most of?

    My mission in life is to tell compelling stories that create real change. At the Stroke Association my colleagues in the Media and Campaigns teams have been working hard to tell a different story about stroke, to bust the myths:
    1) That stroke only happens to older people. Nope, it can happen at any age.
    2) That stroke leads to the end of life. Again wrong. With the right support, people can and do go on to recover and make very significant contributions.
    3) That stroke is inevitable. Again, if you do just one thing post reading this article, get your blood pressure checked. It might just save your life!
    I developed and launched the Life after Stroke campaign, (an integrated public affairs and media campaign) which has led to real world policy wins, changes in the law, a continued priority for stroke, huge media coverage, new supporters and funds.
    The really exciting thing is that now this story is starting to gain real momentum, other opportunities are appearing. Stroke has just been featured on Eastenders (one of the characters has had a stroke), we’ve been picked to be the Royal Mail’s charity for the next two years and are finding new supporters all the time.

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?

    As campaigners our instinct is for action. We all need to remember to stop, think and analyse where power lies before leaping to action, hopefully, though, without losing our zeal!

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I think that charity campaigning is going to change significantly. Some charities will be put off by the Lobbying Act, others will see diminishing returns from tired “contact your MP” actions and others will not do enough to tie their work in closely with the wider work of their charity and so lose impact.
    I believe the most successful campaigning organisations are already highlighting problems and coming up with answers that are both desirable and financially sustainable. This is often not easy but is essential as campaigning is about DELIVERING improvements in people’s lives.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    Even if I wasn’t lucky enough to be paid to campaign, I’d still be a campaigner.

  28. Penelope Gibbs

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    Penelope Gibbs

    Director of Transform Justice


    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    Policy Exchange – because whatever one thinks of their views, they have succeeded in getting the ear of this government and have influenced policy profoundly. They have championed police and crime commissioners and the breaking of the public sector “monopoly” over probation services. Without them these things might not have happened. I admire them because they are effective, though they probably wouldn’t describe themselves as campaigners.
    Citizens UK for campaigning for the Living Wage. They have argued well, got good evidence and successfully used community organisers as advocates. A worthy cause slowly and steadily won, mainly through face to face contacts and meetings.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    Organisations are getting better but the political space is getting more difficult to influence. MPs and Peers are efficiently whipped and few will defy their party.
    E-campaigning has revolutionised campaigning through helping charities to harness the passion of thousands of supporters. It’s a double edged sword though, because the more mass e-mail campaigns there are, the more difficult it is to break through.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    Ray and Vi Donovan’s son Chris was killed by a group of boys in horrible circumstances. Ray and Vi met their son’s killers in a restorative justice conference and felt “free” for the first time in years. They have set up a trust in memory of Chris and tour the country talking about their experience and the power of restorative justice. Ray and Vi truly have created good out of bad.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    The ability to understand other points of view

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    The Out of Trouble campaign I led for the Prison Reform Trust was very rewarding. The aim was to reduce the number of children and young people imprisoned in the UK. During the course of the five year campaign, the number of under 18 year olds imprisoned in England and Wales reduced by a third. A sign of true success is that the campaign ended in September 2012 but the numbers have continued to fall ever since.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    I hope campaigns will focus less on changing the law. Legislation is very powerful but changing legislation does not necessarily produce social change and vice versa.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Be incredibly focussed. Campaigns with vague, amorphous aims tend not to work. Remember achieving your aim is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter if no-one knows who or what organisation was behind a positive social change, as long as it happens.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    A civil servant. Civil servants have more power to influence positive social change than anyone else in government. But I would need to be able to conform and I’m not convinced I could.

  29. Monitoring and Evaluating Advocacy

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    Whenever I have run a training session on advocacy campaigning, I have felt a loss of energy and momentum when I have turned to the subject of monitoring and evaluation.

    As an activist, very often training a room full of fellow activists, I am most interested in sharing the tools that will encourage people to tackle injustice and develop campaigns. But I also know that campaigning is not just about doing stuff, but it is about making a difference.

    So I was really interested at the British Red Cross, when we started to discuss as a new advocacy team how we would want to approach the monitoring and evaluating of our own advocacy. I have written before about the power of using a theory of change approach – a simple chain of events connected by the words ‘so that’ – and then regularly reviewing progress against this theory of change.

    But I was challenged by one of my research colleagues to take a look at the UNICEF monitoring and evaluating advocacy guide – see here.

    I began reading it with a feeling of ‘I’ve seen all of this before’, but the more that I read, the more interested I became – in particular I was interested in their development of a log frame for advocacy. Part of me rebels against a chart with a series of boxes – advocacy cannot be tied down to just one page, surely?

    But the more I looked at their log frame and began to apply it to one of our own advocacy issues, I was surprised at how easy it was to complete and that it was actually a very useful exercise. I liked the structure of goals, interim targets and activities, and I liked how the log frame made you think about how you wanted to move your issue on. I found that the answers to all of these questions were in my head anyway, so it wasn’t too hard to put it all into the log frame.

    But above all I felt that this log frame structure fitted with my own approach to advocacy – it didn’t feel contrived or an add-on. We are going to use this approach more at the British Red Cross – do take a look yourself at the log frame approach – and I’d be interested in what you think.

  30. Letter published in Third Sector 17th January 2012

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    To hear it click:

    To read it….. here it is:

    Cathy Pharoah is correct in noting in her article “Charities can make a difference…” when she says that “…there are signs that the sector is increasingly rediscovering the power of advocacy”

    Charities despite smaller budgets are realising they can get a better return on their investment to reach their aims and goals by turning to advocacy and campaigning tactics. The change has been happening for a few years – began slowly in the late 1990’s then really took off around 2005 – Make Poverty History played an important role in this.

    We see new campaigns and charities investing in policy analysis and development then using it to make change by using campaigning, public affairs and parliamentary tactics. As a result, we’ve increased our staffing to cope with this by over 70% and moved into larger premises.

    It is a real shame that at a time where this expansion in campaigning is occurring that the NCVO’s Campaigning Effectiveness team which supported the sectors work no longer exists. There is a gap that needs filling if anyone is up for taking on the challenge.

  31. It’s a 5 horse race – 4 months to go to the General Election

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    As a former local Councillor, I’m used to regularly delivering leaflets saying “It’s a Two Horse Race” with a cheesy pencil drawing of racehorses and claims that it’s between our party and the main other party. Making out it’s going to be close, even if the end result is a 20-30% difference in the votes. All with the aim of getting your vote out on the day and to stave off complacency.

    Well no-one is going to be complacent about the result of the polling on May 7th. It’s looking like a 5 horse race – the usual 3 equines, plus UKIP and the SNP. Only the Tories or Labour can win it. But the other 3 parties will play a major role in who will get past the finishing line and actually into government.

    Some relevant pieces to read on how to deal with this year from a campaigning perspective. Tom Baker, the self-styled “Thoughtful Campaigner” who The Right Ethos helped place last year at BOND as their Head of Campaigns and Engagement has written this piece: 7 things you need to know about election campaigning.
    Also, worth reading: Three Predictions for Charity Campaigns in 2014 by Claremont Communications: Predications for charity campaigns in 2015.

    And worth knowing about Oxfam wrap on the knuckles before Christmas for being – though I hope it won’t rein any campaigns in too much as a result Oxfam criticised by charity commission.

    Pollsters are being cagey about the outcome, they remember 1992 too well, when most predicted a Labour majority. Sometimes it’s worth looking at what the bookies think as they can’t afford to be wrong.

    The current odds of 25 to 1 on a Labour/SNP/Liberal Democrat coalition looks quite an attractive price to me.
    Looking beyond the election, what if the Liberal Democrats got back into government with 6 times the number of seats of UKIP but only around half the votes. A massive campaign for a fairer voting system from the right wing?
    2015 – It’s going to be very interesting.

  32. Supporting Advocacy in East Africa

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    I am just back from a week in Dar es Salaam, where I was running an advocacy workshop for an INGO and its partners across East Africa.  We had eight nations represented from across the region. This workshop was following on a year after a similar workshop I had run for their Asian region in Bangladesh. The training had worked in Asia but would an advocacy campaigns framework also resonate in East Africa?

    What was really impressive about this workshop was the degree of preparation that delegates had to do prior to coming to Tanzania. I have run some courses where people have given little thought to the issue that they might want to use for advocacy. This workshop had case studies from each delegate submitted before the event. So we had an impressive course reader detailing each person’s advocacy issue against a suggested framework. We had issues such as trail bridges, self-help groups, disaster risk reduction schemes and much, much more. What did interest me was that in the main they were projects where an idea had been made to work on a pilot basis. At the end of each case study was a short section entitled next steps. Generally this section was very brief. The purpose of our workshop was to help people to develop their next steps and therefore have more impact.

    We spent a lot of time in the first couple of days getting participants to describe the realities of their external enabling environment for advocacy: the environment in Kenya, being different to Mozambique, being different to Ethiopia. We were massively helped in this exercise by the presence for a while of Maina Kiai – the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He is an inspirational speaker with an amazing global perspective. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, you must do so!

    As with our workshop in Bangladesh, I was interested to see how the country groups of participants struggled initially to agree how to explain their external environment. There were some very robust discussions. I know that I have written before about how important it is to have these explicit conversations because the danger is that you all assume that you share the same understanding. Having secured agreement in each country group, delegates were encouraged to move around the groups and hear about the external environment in the other countries. This was a great exercise and ensured that we had a common understanding of the external environment in all of the eight countries.

    Having got this understanding, we then went through defining the problem, being clear on the solution and who the target might be with the power to make this change, looking at the different routes to influence this target, assessing the degree and the nature of the opposition, before finally beginning to sketch out what a theory of change on each issue might look like.

    At the end of the week, I was interested to see that energy levels were still running high. It was also interesting to see that while they were keen to take their initial theories of change back home to discuss with their colleagues, there was also a strong desire to keep the peer group from the eight nations together.  There is a group Skype conversation planned for later next month. Yet what really excited me was a group of passionate individuals from across East Africa with their burning desire for change on their issue fired up with some practical tools to help energise their advocacy campaigns.


    In my last blog I highlighted the plight of Sombath Somphone, the community leader from Laos who disappeared in highly suspicious circumstances in 2012. I did, as I implored you to do, and I wrote to my MP about this case. I received a very detailed answer from the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not only did he know about this case, he had raised it on several occasions and was continuing to do so. This was really encouraging – but let’s keep the pressure up. If you haven’t contacted your MP about this case please do so. We should be prepared to stand up for community leaders who stand up for their community and then suffer the consequences.

  33. Mariam Kemple

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    Mariam Kemple

    Whilst Campaigns and Advocacy Manager at Crisis Action


    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    I’ve recently been inspired by the entire campaigning sector following the collective work we’ve all been doing in response to the ‘Gagging Law’. As someone who has a lot of experience in coalition campaigning, it’s been wonderful to see so many different voices from the UK charity sector speaking as one in a targeted and effective way to push for change.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    Absolutely – it’s been very exciting to see this development over the years. Campaigning has become much more professionalised and, with that, we’re seeing a stronger focus on monitoring and evaluation. As a result, the sector is becoming much better at identifying and achieving impact. We’ve also become better at learning from our colleagues in fundraising – building campaigner journeys that ensure supporters around the country can be turned into activists. Finally, the eventual embrace of new technologies – particularly social media – is having a fascinating effect on the responsive capacity of organisations.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    I regularly work with Sudanese or Syrian activists who put themselves at serious risk by speaking out on abuses taking place in their country. I am awed by the dedication and bravery they show in doing so – it is a privilege to work with them.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    First and foremost, any campaigner needs to be passionate about their work. This is what you need to influence others, to push on through the long hours and to keep going in the face of disappointment after disappointment. Second, you need to be strategic – able to work out the most effective, efficient route to influencing your target. And, finally, you need to be flexible in order to adapt your strategy to the myriad of unexpected changes that any campaign will encounter.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    In March 2012 I ran a social media campaign for the first anniversary of the Syrian conflict – Unite for Syria. We had no budget and no time but through sheer hard work were able to convince activists and celebrities the world over to support a multimedia campaign. On the day, we reached millions upon millions of people and the campaign itself became the story. It was wonderful to create something from literally nothing and to create a global community of activists all working together – from Brazil to Indonesia, India to South Africa, Egypt to the US.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    I hope that campaigners will continue to be more and more driven by monitoring and evaluation. I also expect that the medium for our tactics will change as the sector catches up with all that the internet has to offer. That said, I still believe that the core components of campaigning will remain resolutely the same and that the strength of a constituent’s handwritten letter to an MP will always be one of the most powerful tactics we can deploy.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Immerse yourself in the campaigns of the whole sector – sign up to every newsletter and campaign bulletin! Get a feeling for how different organisations engage their supporters, the ambitions they set for themselves and the success they obtain. Make sure you have experience of local campaigning – volunteer in your community and experience the day to day of influencing local institutions and decision-makers. Finally, I would encourage anyone to work in Westminster for even just a short period of time in order to understand the ‘other side’ of campaigning, so that as a campaigner you appreciate the environment your targets will be working in.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    A legal barrister – I’d still have to be arguing for a living!

  34. Head of Resources and Enterprises – Full-Time, permanent £40k – Margate, East Kent

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    Turner Contemporary Website

    Since 2011, the Turner Contemporary has been one of Kent’s, the south-east’s and Britain’s most exciting assets in the visual arts scene.

    This role requires a driven person with passion and a commitment to contemporary arts. Also, the individual needs the skills and abilities to fully utilise the assets of the gallery – the spaces, the café, the shop – to maximise income in order to continue to provide free entry to anyone who wishes to enjoy the exhibitions.

    The individual must be entrepreneurial in their approach, but politically aware to the environment and sector that they are working in. As well as the commercial side, this role is responsible for overseeing the operational side of the organisation – its finances, human resources, IT and administration.

    The role:

    Lead the long term strategic business planning, income generation and policy development for Turner Contemporary.

    Ensure the effective, efficient and entrepreneurial operation of Turner Contemporary Enterprises and to review and improve our commercial strategy to maximise our ability to generate income.

    Responsible for the management of the financial, commercial, HR, administrative, and legal functions required to operate Turner Contemporary (charity) and Turner Contemporary Enterprises.

    Take strategic responsibility for the financial well-being of the organisation.

    Manage change within the organisation and support the development of the staff and Board.

    The candidate

    Entrepreneurial business skills applicable to an ambitious not-for-profit organisation with significant commercial activities.

    You will be a visionary, with strong creative ideas that translate into real achievable business plans.

    Good political nous and the ability to build credibility within the organisation and with senior stakeholders and partners.

    Will have significant relevant experience of strategic business planning and operational practices.

    Significant experience of finance, financial control setting, monitoring and managing budgets.

    Extensive experience of managing staff and associated employment issues.

    Deadline: Friday 21st November 2014

    To apply or for more information please contact Sonya Clampett at

  35. Where is Sombath?

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    Something a bit different for this blog…… I recently spent some time working in Bangladesh running an advocacy training course, and met some people from Laos. They informed me of the disappearance of Sombath Somphone back in 2012. Sombath is a respected community leader in Laos. He has not been heard from since his disappearance.

    I understand that his wife was shown video footage by the police of him being stopped by the police, and then being put into another vehicle before being driven away. The policemen who showed her this video have subsequently disappeared. The government in Laos has refused to engage on this issue, explain this video footage or take up international offers to analyse this video footage.

    This case of Sombath has really affected me. How can a citizen of a country just disappear and the government of that country show no interest in his return? I would really interested to know if our Foreign and Commonwealth Office is aware of this case, and what representations our government had made to the government in Laos and to the ASEAN nations. I have written to my MP to ask these questions – could you do the same and stand up for a community leader, who had the courage to stand up and represent his community at huge personal cost?

    For more information see or

  36. Building a movement

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    In recent years I have increasingly heard people talking about movements in the context of campaigning. Not content just with an organisation or individuals seeking to run a campaign, a wider more ambitious aspiration can emerge to build a movement pushing for change.

    Influenced no doubt by the experience across the Atlantic in the US where many funders have embraced the rhetoric of movement building, this language has crept into the UK. Although this may be an incorrect assessment – it may be better to say this language has re-emerged into the UK. What was the pressure to abolish slavery, form trade unions, get women the vote if they were not movements? Movements have surely played a crucial role in the history of the UK.

    In their article on How foundations can support movement building, Masters and Osborn look at social and political change and the role that movements can play in pushing for change. They argue that:

    “While there is no formula for a social movement, we know that successful ones share some things in common. First, people become mobilized around issues they hold dear; at some level they share a powerful vision about what is wrong with society and how it must be improved; and they engage in lots of diverse activities not under any one leader’s direct control resulting political motion and its effect lead to a change in attitudes, practices and public policy.”

    I am very attracted to this notion especially where you are looking for major political, social or economic change. A campaign can push for a specific policy or practice change, a movement, being more free flowing and diverse, can generate broader activity maybe harnessing different campaigns and approaches with the same over-arching goal.

    In the UK context I am struck by the number of people who have been talking about the need to build a movement in defence of asylum seekers and refugees. While there have been many campaigns run on specific issues, a feeling has developed, due to the prevailing political and media environment, that we need a broader movement to offer a positive counterpoint.

    For the past few years I have been involved in the City of Sanctuary movement. Starting in the great city of Sheffield in 2005, local people came together to provide welcome to asylum seekers arriving in their city. From this inspirational move, we now have over 40 cities and towns of sanctuary across the UK, we have schools and health services expressing support, more and more communities expressing solidarity and interest from across Europe.

    I have been fascinated by this development. In the face of such a negative political and media environment, the development of cities of sanctuary has been such a positive antidote. You just cannot ignore local people coming together motivated to do their bit to support asylum seekers and refugees.

    Yet this in itself is not enough to create a national environment for a culture of welcome across the UK. For this reason support has been building for a sanctuary summit from organisations like Refugee Council, Refugee Action, the Forum, Boaz Trust, STAR, Still Human and many more.

    On 15th November 2014 people will gather in Birmingham from across the UK for the first Sanctuary Summit. The criteria for attendance will be simple: the power to represent a community and/ or the energy to campaign. Grounded in eight policy concerns, we hope to bring a diverse collection of people together to encourage their own local expressions within a loose national movement. We aspire to offer the space and structure to inspire activity but for it all to be linked up.

    We got a taste of what is possible in Parliament earlier in September when local groups from across the UK came to Westminster to meet their MP and talk about how they welcome asylum seekers in their community. The Sanctuary in Parliament was a great success.

    These are lofty aspirations to build a movement for sure but also exciting – will this Sanctuary Summit succeed in bringing people together united by a common vision, encouraging local and national actions all pushing to achieve the change for a culture of welcome in the UK?





  37. What MPs want?

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    I’ve just read a study on MPs’ views on charities’ actions by nfpSynergy.
    Given that it took 3 individuals to email 154 MPs how acceptable it was to for charities to undertake the 6 different activities listed below it left me a bit cold. Especially as the report was given such an ostentatious and grandiose title of “Charity Parliamentary Monitor” – phew, pretty impressive, eh?
    The 6 charity activities in the report that MPs had to say were acceptable or not were:

    1. “challenging government policy”
    2. “holding a parliamentary reception”
    3. “highlighting the effects of a policy on its beneficiaries”
    4. “challenging the policies of political parties”
    5. “a state-funded charity challenging government policy”

    A bit of analysis by one of the 3 “box-tick counters” or someone else from nfpSynergy would have been useful.

    I’m not sure what the point of the study is – what inference we’re supposed to take from these figures. Are charities supposed to turn around and say, “look only 42% of Tory MPs think its ok for us to challenge government policy -maybe we should think again about doing anything”

    Or 90% of MPs think it’s acceptable to hold a parliamentary reception so that perhaps charities should be holding one every fortnight.

    If someone is attacking you, your beneficiaries and what you believe is right and committed to campaigning about, shouldn’t you consider perhaps doing more of what they say they don’t like rather than trying to please them?

    And is it that important what MPs say on what’s acceptable? Isn’t it much more important to assess how MPs respond to the campaigning actions of charities, learn from this and adapt your actions for the future to gain more campaigning success?

  38. Political Education

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    Recently I ran Bond’s UK Corridors of Power course. I always enjoy this course as it combines a lot of theory around government and parliament in the UK with meetings with MPs, officials and NGO staff. At the end of the last course, one of the delegates said to me that even with a degree in politics that they had struggled to understand how the British UK system worked and that this practical course had helped.

    This comment made me reflect on the importance of political education for campaigners. This is an issue I know that Titus Alexander at Democracy Matters has been pushing for a long time – see

    Where do campaigners get their knowledge of politics from? In my younger days I was very involved in party politics and learnt a lot by doing roles such as a constituency chair, council candidate and parliamentary candidate. It was a great way to learn about the realities of British politics by actually getting involved myself.

    Yet from all of the training that I do across the UK on campaigning, I am struck at the degree of dislocation that there is between NGO people and party political people. Twenty or so years ago there was I think a stronger cross over between NGOs and different parties, which does not seem to be the case so much now.

    I sense a great dissatisfaction with party politics. And I can sympathise with this feeling. But if you are not involved where do you get your political education from?

    I was hearing about a colleague recently working for an NGO who had been encouraging the NGO to lobby government and parliament on an issue. The response to this pitch was a somewhat frosty – ‘we lobby government…. we don’t lobby parliament.’ I thought this was a great response revealing a lack of knowledge that the UK does not have a rigid separation of powers’ doctrine between the legislature and executive. In the UK government is drawn from parliament. You cannot talk to a government minister without talking to a parliamentarian.

    But with the huge array of fascinating political biographies and diaries available, you do not need to engage with party politics, you can read all about it. Just starting with the superb diaries from Chris Mullin should be enough to really get you going.

    So as campaigners all of us should be questioning how we are continuing our learning as part of our political education to make us more effective campaigners and to play a vibrant part in our democratic structures.

  39. Advocacy in Lithuania

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    Just back from Lithuania where I ran an advocacy and policy influencing workshop for a children’s charity and their partners. They were all focussed on challenging the existing policy of residential care for children and promoting the need for community based alternatives.

    Some were comfortable with advocacy, while for others it was something totally new. We started with seeking to define the external political environment by posing the question where does power lie in Lithuania?

    We divided up into small groups, and as ever, I was surprised when they reported back with their different assessments. It does show, I think, the importance of making your assumptions on the external environment explicit in any advocacy work and being open to be challenged on these assumptions.

    After some discussion, we got some degree of clarity that in seeking to promote policy or practice change we should look at three levels of power: the national, the municipal and families/ communities.

    Having established these three levels, we then set out to construct three influence trees to show the different routes to seek influence on these three targets.

    Having established our influence trees, we then began to debate how we might make progress in each of these three areas. To do so we used the theory of change approach. I have written about this many times in the past but the idea is so simple – you do something so that something else happens. We tried to set out our ‘so that’ chain for each area of focus.

    I was energised by this training as we were able to both convey the basics of advocacy but also to begin to develop an advocacy strategy. People learnt some new skills but also began to apply their new learning on their issue of concern. At the end of the course, people took down their flip charts with all of their work on them – they now seemed ready to begin their advocacy work.

  40. Enthusing me to vote

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    One of the drawbacks of having had a gap in my blogs is that I now find myself with a long list of things I have wanted to blog about – and this blog is one of them – maybe not too topical but just too interesting to ignore.

    Cast your mind back to 2012 and the elections for the police and crime commissioners. This was an initiative by the government to inject more democratic accountability into the strategic direction of local police services.

    What really got me going was the refusal by the government to allow a free delivery from the Royal Mail from each candidate to each address in the constituency. This was to be the first time that such posts had been elected, there was precious little media coverage, and all this made the refusal to grant a free delivery all the more hard to understand.

    I remember as a Parliamentary candidate, on the two occasions that I stood, that the free delivery from the Royal Mail was so important to allow candidates to make contact with every household in the constituency. Especially if you were operating on a tight budget, as I always seemed to be, this was such an important element in ensuring that voters knew about all of the candidates.

    But in this brand new election the government had refused to offer this to the candidates. How then were people going to make up their minds? Certainly in my local area, I received almost no information at all.

    So I decided for the first time, since I was able to vote, that I was going to abstain – this was a hard decision – I have always voted and think it is so important to do so. So many people have suffered and fought for us all to have the right to vote. Not only was I going to abstain, I was still going to the polling station to spoil my paper to show my disdain for this process. And I started agitating my friends and family to do likewise.

    Then on the eve of poll, I received an email from 38 Degrees. It was such a clever and well written email. Despite the late hour, it made me sit up and take notice.

    They focused on one issue: the privatisation of back-office police services. It highlighted that this was an issue (and had been earlier voted for by 38 Degrees supporters as a topic for action) but didn’t lecture me or tell what to do other than invite me to look at what the three candidates had said on this issue. I clicked through on the three links, was intrigued by their different opinions, and as I cared about this issue, I suddenly found myself motivated to vote in this election.

    Pretty impressive. Even now some 15 months on I am still impressed by this action. Despite my resolve to abstain, I was touched by this email, enthused by the need to vote and then I took action by voting. For me 38 Degrees were playing a vital part in re-energising democracy. They didn’t tell me how to vote but provided me with information that might encourage me to exercise my right to vote.

    As we enter the run-up to the European Parliament elections in May and then the General Election the year after, I am hopeful that we will see similar imaginative actions to energise people into casting their vote.

  41. Keeping the Passion Alive

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    At the end of last year I ran a day of campaign training for the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s residential weekend. In addition to their campaign award winners, there were also campaigners, who had applied to join this weekend training.

    What was remarkable about this group right from the outset, was their passion for change on their issue. They all had a story and were so clear on the change that they were seeking on their issue. And their hunger for learning was so strong. As a trainer it was superb to be in such an environment. As we covered each campaign tool, you could just sense them reviewing it, and seeing how they could use each tool to strengthen their campaign.

    I have written before about the danger, as campaigning becomes ever more professional, that the spark and passion for change is lost. There is a danger that campaigning just becomes another professional discipline.

    I have been reading the new book by Liam Barrington-Bush, Anarchists in the Boardroom – how social media and social movements can help your organisation to be more like people. See

    Very early on in his book, I was very taken by a compelling point he makes: he expresses his surprise on joining a NGO, which was set up to campaign, but by the time that he joined it, the passion and spark had been lost and it had become just another large bureaucratic organisation. How does this happen? Is it inevitable?

    I know when I have been recruiting campaigners, looking for professional competence and experience is really important. I look for a track record of making things happen. But I also look for that spark and passion on the issue.

    In the past I have been rung by head hunters promoting a senior and often very well paid campaigning post, but I have had to deflect their approach as it was just on the wrong issue for me.

    I do think that we should place importance on passion and enthusiasm in our campaigning. Don’t just take it as read. Let’s see commitment and passion for the cause valued highly when we recruit campaigners and then let’s nurture and encourage that passion – it’s a very special thing.

  42. Bangladesh

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    After a period away from blogging last year, I am keen to kick-start this occasional blog reflecting on the realities of advocacy campaigning based on my own current experiences at the British Red Cross and from the training that I am able to lead for NGOs across the world. All of these blogs are my own personal views…..

    Recently I had the good fortune to be in Bangladesh running an advocacy and policy influencing training session for an international NGO. We had representatives present from across the region including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Laos.

    The first day we covered the basics of advocacy and began to present a framework for advocacy. Right from the word go, whilst there was interest in this framework, there was a much stronger interest in asserting the differences in the external contexts for advocacy across the countries represented on the training course.

    This interest was really welcome as on the second day, we invested a lot of time in focussing on the realities of the external environment for advocacy. Initially there was some resistance when we asked them to get into their country groups to define their external environment. There was a common view that they had done this before. But we persisted in our request. To add a bit of extra spice to the exercise, we asked them to present their analysis of their external environment on a flip chart page.

    Then the discussions started. While they may have thought that they had done it all before, I was interested to note some of the robust discussions in some of the country groups. Maybe they didn’t all have the same understanding after all? After some time, they started to portray their external environments on a flip chart page.

    One person said to me that the exercise had been useful because in their country office they had all assumed that they had the same understanding, but that this exercise had made them see that maybe they didn’t, and that they needed time to come to a consensus.

    Having got the flip charts ready, we then encouraged one member of each country team to stay by their flip chart, and the others then to do a tour of the room and explore the other flip charts. It was great to see the country representative trying to explain the realities of their external environment to people from other countries.

    For me this experience showed how important it is to base advocacy campaigning on the realities of the world outside, and that assumptions on these realities should be tested and made explicit.

    There is such a danger with advocacy campaigning that we are enthused to campaign on an issue, develop a strategy and then launch with little or no reference to the outside world. I do think that curiosity about power and how change happens should be a vital part of any campaigner’s approach.

    So I would say be curious about power, make your assumptions explicit, challenge yourself and others to develop a robust view of the external environment – and then build your advocacy strategy on that understanding. I know that sometimes we are just too busy to do this – but we omit at our peril.

  43. Obstacles to effective campaigning with some answers

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    Last time I wrote about my new area of interest in campaigning – the internal obstacles to effective campaigning. I have been struck how over the past few months running training courses in Berlin and Dublin as well as here in London
    about how often this issue crops up.

    So what are those obstacles? Why don’t more people and NGOs run campaigns? What do you think? On a long journey recently I tried to list the obstacles that I had either experienced or heard of – and then I tried to sketch out a possible answer.

    I think that I could have stumbled upon a big issue here and what I offer now is just work in progress – but what do you think?

    Have I missed any obstacles? I will recap on the obstacles from last time and
    now also try to suggest some possible answers.

    Lack of research

    I have seen this happen so many times – people say we would love to campaign but we need more research. Yes, research is vital for effective campaigning but it is also a major delaying tactic. Be wary of the call for more research? It can just push your energy into the long grass. I have launched campaigns with precious little evidence, just moral outrage. We then went back and got the evidence but it did not stop us speaking out, seizing the moment and developing campaigning momentum.

    Nervous leadership

    Here the campaigners are ready, but the organisation’s leadership is nervous and the campaign stalls. An explicit risk assessment can be a great tool to confront this nervousness and show how you are going to minimise any risks. Also Brian Lamb’s
    excellent NCVO campaigns guide for trustees is another great tool to minimise
    campaigning nervousness.


    This is a classic. We would love to campaign but we need a full-time campaigns post. What rubbish! I say give me an hour a week and we can begin to make things happen. With a clear focus and plan, you can achieve so much with so little – if you have the will.

    Lack of shared values

    This is a sad one. The obstacle to campaigning comes down to a not having a shared value set. Again as with earlier obstacles, it can help to be explicit about these values and not to be base actions on assumptions. Are we really a campaigning organisation agitating for change? Or are we not? But initiate this conversation – do not assume that you are all on the same page.

    Lack of common understanding of advocacy

    This is another classic. With almost all of the advocacy campaigns consultancy work that I have done over the past 5 years or so this issue comes up. I find myself saying I really don’t mind what your definition of advocacy campaigning is but I wish you have a common one. A definition that the communications, research, policy, marketing, fundraising or supporter relations people all sign up to. Is that really so hard?

    Lack of a theory of change

    Have you seen this one? I know I have been guilty of this. So much effort goes into producing the research report and maybe getting some media coverage and then you just collapse exhausted with little idea of all this action happening so that something else happens. But without your theory of change at least sketched out, there is a good chance that your report will just be filed and all momentum lost. The answer is I think simple – write out your theory of change using the simple ‘so that’ formula. I am going to do something so that something else happens. And then review what should be no more than a couple of sides of paper on a regular basis. Simple but it does makes you think about momentum which is so vital on an effective campaign.

    Individual agendas taking over 

    Here campaigning is undermined because individuals have their own agendas and seek opportunities to develop their agendas. This will always be tricky when you are dealing with passionate campaigners but I think an astute organisation will try to work with those individual passions to energise the wider campaigning effort.

    Internal disharmony

    This is another sad one. Here the team or organisation is undermined by internal conflict. Sadly this can be a problem specially in small NGOs but it does undermine effective campaigning. Clearly this disharmony need to be tackled before the campaigning can take off. This disharmony just has to be tackled and not avoided. You just cannot build a successful campaign on such a platform, or if you are able to do so why you adding to your own stress and diverting energy from your campaign?

    Lack of a common goal

    What is the point of your campaigning? Is it policy change? To recruit new  supporters? To raise your profile? To raise money? What is your goal – effective campaigning needs focus and a clear goal. All good campaigns need a clear focus and goal. And this is time well worth spent to be clear about your answer to why you are campaigning. Don’t assume – be explicit.

    We are too busy to campaign

    Have I left the best until last? I see this so often – we are so busy delivering services meeting the need that we can’t make campaign. So that nothing ever changes so that you stay busy. I just get excited by those smaller NGOs who can both deliver services but also embed their campaigning into the soul of their organisation. They do both activities because they know they need to do both – but one fits seamlessly into the other – they see these actions as being on one continuum.

    If I have made overcoming all of these obstacles sound easy, then I apologise – I know that it is far from easy. After over 10 years’ experience of campaigning with NGOs plus my freelance work internationally I am convinced that these internal obstacles represent some of the biggest hurdles we campaigners face. If you disagree, then I am happy for you and get on enjoying your campaigning.

    But if you agree with me – what do you think about my answers? And do you have anything better to offer? It would be great to hear your views.

  44. Influencing the faces of power

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    A few months ago, I was in Haiti where I spent 5 days running an advocacy training course for community organisations from Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    Despite the language barrier, with everything needed to be translated into Creole, I was really interested in how some of the core advocacy campaign techniques seemed to resonate in this challenging campaigning environment. Since the earthquake in January 2010, there has been a huge challenge to meet the need from this disaster and to ensure that all of the international aid effort is used in the most effective way for the local population.

    The community groups that I was working with were very interested to apply the advocacy campaign techniques in their own context to strengthen their advocacy work and ensure that community voices were heard in the policy debate.

    And this interest translated itself in some extremely interesting and challenging questions. My favourite question must have been asking how using an influence tree works with a power analysis where you look for the three faces of power: public, hidden and the insidious. The public face being possibly the government minister in charge of the issue; the hidden face being possibly the Treasury minister; and the insidious face being possibly cultural or religious influence in the country.

    I thought that this was a great question. When we cover the influence tree technique, we talk about the importance of identifying one target that has the power to make the change that you are seeking. In addition to the direct route to your target, you also identify the other possible channels that you can use to seek to influence your target.

    But how do you respond where there are different faces of power? How does an influence tree work then? Do you need to have three different influence trees to contend with the public, hidden and insidious faces of power? Or can you prioritise the different faces of power? For example if you identify from your power analysis that the most important face of power is the hidden face of say the Treasury Minister, then do you use the public face and the insidious faces of power as routes on the way to influence the hidden face?

    Such that you know that you need try to influence, or at least try to neutralise, the public and the insidious faces of power en route to influencing the hidden face of power.

    A great question – but what do you think is the answer?

  45. The campaigning staircase

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    I have written many times before about how important I think a theory of change is when you are developing your advocacy campaign. And while that may sound complex, it can be as simple as just developing a ‘so that’ chain of events. Using the words ‘so that’ to show how your actions are going to help your campaign take off, build momentum and deliver impact.

    When I am running training courses, I am also keen to use the ‘but why’ technique. Again this is an incredibly simple tool to get to the root cause of a problem.

    You start with your problem driving your campaign and ask ‘but why’ is this a problem? And you keep asking ‘but why’ until you get to the real cause of the problem. This simple tool, while it can be irritating, can be a great way to ensure that you avoid focussing on the superficial causes to your problem and that your campaign can tackle the real issues.

    I was running a training session for refugee supporting NGOs in South Africa a few months ago when a participant asked what you should do if the answer to one of our ‘but why’ questions was ‘maybe’. I thought that this was a great question. If your answer is maybe, then it shows that you do not really know and that you need more research and evidence before you can launch your campaign. The ‘but why’ technique can be a great way to check if you are ready to launch your campaign.

    And it is so much better to find out that you don’t really know the answer to ‘but why’  in private as I have found that politicians and journalists are very skilled in asking the ‘but why’ question. Time spent on this exercise is priceless as part of your initial campaign planning.

    It is also a great exercise to do with your campaign team and to repeat at regular intervals using any new campaign intelligence.

    But it was only when I was running a training course for Christian Aid in Haiti last month that I really began to see the connection between ‘so that’ and ‘but why’. Once we had covered these two tools, one participant offered the following insight: “these tools are like a campaigning staircase. You need to go down the staircase to find out why you are in this position and to do that you ask ‘but why’? But you also need to go up the staircase to find out where you are going with your campaign and to do that you repeat ‘so that’.

    I loved that insight – these two tools allow you to move up and down the campaigning staircase. Maybe something to think about next time you are doing some campaign planning?

  46. Informal influencing

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    A few months ago I was running an advocacy and policy influencing course in West Africa for a group of doctors who wanted to run a national campaign on maternal health in order to tackle the horribly high number of women who were dying when giving birth.

    The course seemed to be going well until we got onto influence, and I began to explain how to use an influence tree. I started off by focussing on their target of their advocacy campaign and then began to talk through possible routes of influence to get to this target. I used an example from another advocacy campaign to get them thinking about how the influence tree might be applied in their cultural context.

    Then one of the group interrupted me and asked me – what about GFs? I was stumped. I have run similar courses around the world and no-one had ever asked me about GFs. My mind raced – what could GF stand for in an advocacy sense? I didn’t have a clue.

    The group then laughed realising that I didn’t understand the question. Don’t you know what GFs stand for? I had to admit that I didn’t. They then took great delight in telling me that GFs stood for girl friends.

    This answer this opened up a new area of discussion around informal routes of influence. In this country the identities of girl friends of leading politicians were public knowledge, so if you were planning an advocacy campaign on maternal health and were targeting a politician who had a girlfriend, then she could be a potential route of influence. This point then got the group thinking much more broadly about other sources of informal influence on their target. Their influence tree suddenly expanded dramatically with a whole array of other routes of more informal influence.

    It made me reflect that sometimes we focus only on the formal and established routes of influence in developing advocacy campaigns, when very often those in power are also influenced by informal sources. In the context of your campaigning work are there any informal routes of influence that you might be missing?

  47. Getting the right balance

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    Over the past five years or so I have had the chance to do a regular session on NCVO’s certificate in campaigning. I always enjoy these sessions as NCVO attracts a diverse group and their questions are guaranteed to be good and do make me think.

    Last time there was a question about public campaigning – how much control should an NGO seek to exert when trying to mobilise the public – should you go for control or be more relaxed? This is an interesting question and has come up a number of times in campaign training sessions here in the UK and internationally.

    My NGO campaigning started by being schooled in a very rigid approach to campaigning. You knew when you wanted public involvement and you told them what to say and when.

    In recent years I have moved away from that school of thought. Possibly the one event that forced my shift in thinking came out of the lessons from Obama’s first Presidential election campaign: to lower the barriers to entry and to encourage supporters to use their own words and reasons to explain why there were supporting the campaign.

    I was very taken by these two ideas – lowering the barriers and encouraging people to do campaigning in their own way with their own words. But were they applicable in the UK?

    I got a speedy answer to this question during my time at the British Refugee Council. We had been running a national campaign to allow asylum seekers to work. This right had been taken away in 2002 and there was a strong argument for allowing asylum seekers to support themselves as opposed to having to rely on state support. At a national level we forged a strong campaigning alliance with the TUC and endeavoured to push this issue at a national level.

    A while later I met the Regional Refugee Forum North East – an inspiring refugee-led group based in Gateshead. I was enthused by what they had done with this campaign. They had taken our national campaign and made it their own in the North East forging their own link with the regional TUC. They put their own branding on their materials, used their own words but the key message remained the same. I just loved how they had taken the national NGO’s campaign and made it their own at a local level. And it was so much more powerful as a result. When they met with the region’s MPs they were talking as genuinely concerned local residents running their own campaign – not as local voices for a distant national campaign.

    I would love to take the credit for this powerful regional campaign but I can’t – it had nothing to do with me. The regional forum had just taken our campaign and interpreted it in their own local context. And it was so much more powerful.

    The more I think about public campaigning and the role of national NGOs, the more I come back to Obama’s key principles and this example from the north east of England. I think national NGOs should instigate and drive national campaigns based on their evidence and local evidence from their partners. They should get the evidence out and promote campaign materials and ideas for actions before letting local groups interpret this material in their own way to run their own campaigns.

  48. Bringing your theory of change to life

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    I’ve written before about the importance of developing a theory of change as part of your campaign planning. There has been a lot written about this approach to campaigning, but stripped to its most basic I think it centres around two words: so and that.

    You do something so that something else happens so that something else happens, and before you launch your campaign using this tool, you can show how your campaign is going to take off. I wish when I had started out campaigning someone had told me about this simple tool and how important it was to write it down and then regularly review it.

    I was out in Tanzania recently doing some work with the Africa team for the World Society for the Protection of Animals. We had spent two days together covering  the basics of campaigning, and then we had the luxury of two more days to put this learning into action.

    They were keen to use the theory of change model on one of their campaigns. As a trainer I was intrigued to see whether this tool would be useful for them and how they would use it. So it was great to see them work as a group developing their theory of change. But what most struck me was how they were having robust arguments for each stage of their model.

    One colleague would suggest a next step, another would question whether that would actually follow, and then the originator of the idea would have to justify their thinking. We ended up with a theory of change on their issue on which they  had robustly challenged each other through every step. I was really excited to see  how they had worked to together to build a cohesive plan.

    I am also doing some work in the UK with a group of small charities working in the refugee sector. Here again we have been developing a theory of change to help them to develop their campaigning agenda. We are beginning now to come up with an interesting theory of change that we have tested with each other internally. Yet we know we need to test it still further.

    So we are going to talk to a few friendly politicians across all the parties to test out our theory of change model with them. We may have convinced ourselves that this theory of change will work, but will people working in different sectors and especially those working within the political sphere agree with our thinking or will they challenge our way of thinking.

    I know that you can never second guess the future, but an effective campaigner  surely needs to see where their campaign is going and then is ready to test their thinking with their colleagues and with key external partners. I think one part of successful campaigning is a readiness to challenge your own thinking – how robust is your theory of change?

  49. Barbara Crowther

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    Barbara Crowther

    Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Fairtrade Foundation


    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    So many! Greenpeace continues to be both brave and innovative – not least the Russian illegal detention of the Arctic Sunrise 30, but also their ability to drive serious issues with a sense of fun – I loved their Star Wars campaign to turn Volkswagen from the ‘dark side’ and the Chainsaw Barbie campaign to Mattel. I’m impressed how38 Degrees has woken everyone up to the power of online in driving nimbleness and democratisation of mass-scale campaigning that every organisation can learn from, and springboarding from online to focussed local organisation and direct action. Traidcraft did an awesome job as part of the successful campaign to win the establishment of a Grocery Code Adjudicator – a supermarket watchdog with teeth – and continues to plug away solidly on trade justice issues where many other NGOs have flagged!

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I think campaigns have got smarter in terms of pushing for specific policy or public goals, and in being creative in how they seek to reach the public and their targets. I do think we’ve lost ground a little on local and grassroots organisation – traditional NGO campaigning has become much more individual action oriented, but at Fairtrade, we have great experience of the power of local mobilisation. Fairtrade towns campaigns have been the backbone of building public awareness and applying change and pressure on companies and public authorities, and we’re proud of that!

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    It’s probably clichéd right now to say it, but Malala is pretty awesome – such bravery and such maturity at such a young age. She never asked to be in a global spotlight, and I have occasionally worried about Western media or political manipulation. But you only have to listen to one interview with her to know that she has all the great qualities of a legendary social justice campaigner. Loved her response to the Nobel Peace Prize outcome – that winning peace is more important than winning prizes!

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    Firstly vision – a clear sense of the change you seek – vision requires you also to understand the world and power dynamics you’re dealing with. Second, dogged perseverance – very few campaigns are won overnight and most get knockbacks, so refusing to give up, and looking for new ways around obstacles is critical. Thirdly, creative flexibility – being able to react and adjust plans if they’re not working, or find a new creative way of bringing the campaign alive again if it’s flagging, or seizing quickly on a new opportunity you hadn’t seen at the outset.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    The massive mobilisation for Jubilee 2000/Drop the Debt Campaign from 1997-2002 was a pretty exciting time for international development and economic justice campaigning. With hindsight, we didn’t always get it right, and of course it’s still not been won, but it was an amazing global effort, especially in the global South, and delivered some good progress in writing down some of the excessive debt burdens and challenging the nature of conditions being imposed. Our campaign for Fairtrade bananas since 2000 has been pretty successful – around 1 in 3 bananas sold today are Fairtrade – and we’ve had great fun with it, but more to the point, I’ve had the privilege of seeing its positive impact for banana farmers and workers. Again we’ve not yet reached our goal and need to turn the tables now – campaign for there to be no unfair bananas left in the UK, until the industry as a whole is delivering living wages and sustainable livelihoods for banana workers and farmers. If we can do that on bananas, it could be an iconic victory that could spill over to other global supply chains and business practices.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    There’s going to be a push for even greater transparency of information and decision making, at local, national and international level – whether it’s campaigning health or child welfare, or private sector responsibility and corporate accountability or local and national government policy. People will take more matters into their own hands as we go further into an open access era of campaigning – technology is putting more power to campaign in the hands of many more people, by making information more accessible, creating new networks that transcend local or national boundaries, but also potentially to find their own solutions through peer-to-peer or shared economy, as we’re seeing in lending, community energy generation, car sharing etc. In Fairtrade we’re calling it ‘Unlocking the Power of the Many’!

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Get stuck in with both your heart and your head – focus on something you really believe in and care about, but also make sure you do the hard graft study of the politics and the gritty details, so you know your stuff and can apply political intelligence alongside your passion for change. If you’re just setting out and seeking a first step on the ladder, consider volunteering or an internship with a campaigning organisation or team – I know many people who gave their time in the first instance, built up their skills, knowledge and experience, started at the bottom but went on to paid campaigning roles in organisations they have really wanted to work for.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?


  50. Tim Linehan

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    Tim Linehan

    Whilst Policy and Campaigns Consultant at Independent Age

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    Yes they are. People understand that campaigning is good for organisational growth; supporters can engage in more activities more easily than they ever could in the past. Both have their downsides too. I think charities need remind themselves that campaigns are an expression of their purpose to change the world and by campaigning you remind yourself of why you exist, both corporately and individually.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    Bob Holman, founder of the Easterhouse Project in Glasgow. I’ve also got a lot of time for my old colleague at The Children’s Society, Jim Davis who whenever he spoke made me wonder why I wasn’t doing more to change the things he faced on a daily basis.

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    Save the Children for the scale of their ambition and their understanding of how to mobilise their supporters. Greenpeace for their persistent activism and keeping alive the spirit of radical intervention; Glasgow University – not really a campaigning organisation, but they produced probably the most uplifting video I’ve ever seen about why change is important.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    Idealism, scepticism and stubbornness. Good analysis helps, so does thinking differently.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    Safe and Sound, with The Children’s Society. I remember when we achieved one of our goals The Guardian wrote a leader about the campaign praising us for our persistence and consistency over time. They said we were ‘a stuck record’. I liked that. I think all campaigners should aim to be a stuck record, going on and on until we get what we want.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    On the one hand I think there’s a risk that they might simply become marketing tools, yet on the other hand I think there’s a real opportunity to share the reality of the lives and conditions that charities are trying to change by bringing in the voices from the fringes of society into the corridors of power.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Be an optimist of the heart and a pessimist of the mind. I think Gramsci said something to that effect.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    An internationally acclaimed accordion star.

  51. Mark Farmaner

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    Mark Farmaner

    Director at Burma Campaign UK

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    I really admire campaign groups like the Western Sahara Campaign UK and Free West Papua Campaign which keep campaigning relentlessly on issues that governments would rather forget. Thanks to their campaigning these issues are kept on the international agenda, but it must be tough going and frustrating sometimes.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I began campaigning in the 1980s. At that time most campaigning was pretty much a choice of having a demonstration or calling a boycott, and working out how many badges you could fit on your jacket. Campaigning is in another league now in terms of the scope of campaigning activities and professionalisation. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts has been how campaigning has become more mainstream, rather than being dominated by the left as it used to be. The changes allowing charities to campaign have probably played a big part in that.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    Working on a country like Burma I have met so many amazing people campaigning for freedom and human rights in their country. They are literally risking their lives campaigning in Burma, which puts the complaints we have about working in the third sector here into perspective. If I had to choose campaigners outside Burma I think I’d go for a couple of people who might for some be more controversial characters. First Peter Tatchell, who never gives up, is always willing to speak up for the vulnerable and oppressed, is never afraid to speak his mind even if he knows he’s going to get stick for it, and is certainly effective at getting issues onto the agenda. Secondly I’d choose Bono. I can’t understand the level of vitriol directed against him. He might not be perfect but he has made a huge difference in getting development issues up the international agenda. I saw that myself working on the Jubilee 2000 campaign at Christian Aid. Most celebrities do bugger all to use their profile and their millions to try to make the world a better place, and yet Bono is the one being attacked.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    First I think you have to plan long term and be relentless, using every possible pressure point to achieve your goal and keep at it doggedly. Second you have to be willing to speak truth to power even if it can be difficult and uncomfortable, remember a pragmatist has never changed the world. Third is focus. Remember your goal and keep focussed on it. Governments and companies which are feeling the pressure are especially good at throwing up initiatives and processes which fall far short of what is being campaigned for. All too often campaigners get diverted into engaging with these processes which are never ending, rather than staying focussed on their original goal.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    Being part of the Jubilee 2000 campaign from the beginning and seeing how it took off to become a global phenomenon was amazing. Persuading DFID to finally start giving aid to people in Burma internally displaced by conflict in ethnic states was especially rewarding because I had seen how desperate their situation was and knew we have made a real difference to their lives.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    The role of non-issue based campaign groups like AVAAZ,, 38degrees and others is likely to continue to grow. We have seen for ourselves at Burma Campaign UK how that can have a hugely positive impact in reinforcing our campaigns. But at the same time I worry about a small tendency for this kind of campaign groups to play it safe. They often follow topical and mainstream agenda issues already in the news, rather than setting the agenda, and the testing of campaign actions to decide whether an action is popular enough to go ahead with presents real risks. How many people would have responded positively to a test campaign action for the Birmingham Six or Guildford Four at the start of the campaigns for their freedom?

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Don’t think that just because you studied hard for a degree you can walk straight into a campaigns role. Be prepared to work your way up.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    Writing satirical novels in between pottering around in the garden.

  52. Roma Hooper

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    Roma Hooper

    Whilst Director of Make Justice Work

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?

    38 degrees for its simplicity and straightforward focus.
    Prostate Cancer for their awareness raising and movember initiative.
    Macmillan Breast Cancer Campaign – world’s biggest coffee morning. Involves those that perhaps don’t work
    Get London Reading – Evening Standard – fantastic publicity via the newspaper and seems to be getting great results.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    Campaigns are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and creative: identifying months of the year, use of the digital arena (covering mobile, content marketing, video and Youtube, email and social media)
    Much easier to donate than ever before because of technology.
    It’s getting better partly because more support and knowledge is available to hone your skills.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?

    Camila Batmanghelidjh

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?

    A genuine desire for change.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?

    I have only worked on one – Make Justice Work.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?

    Increased use of digital campaigning and new technology – Although there is always the danger of campaign overload for the public, particularly for those like 38 degrees and Avaaz who use email.
    Improved access to the best skills and contacts needed for lobbying etc. which can be acquired via specialist agencies such as Champollion – so you don’t have to have all the skills. Can buy in.
    With the potential emergence of organisations like the US organisation the Frameworks Institute there is a chance that campaigning could be much more effective in terms of learning how to reframe the debate. There needs to be real switch in the best use of language which is particularly important when wanting to change public and/or political opinion.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?

    Familiarise yourself with the political arena and its challenges if your campaign requires policy change.
    Develop strong and positive relationships with media journalists. Best to have only 3 or 4 to deal with than a whole list of people you don’t know.
    Look and learn from others.
    Preparation, preparation, preparation – the more you know and understand about your subject matter the better.
    Listen to the experts.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    The only other place where I could create real change is in possibly government. So perhaps an MP….. But one like Barbara Castle!

  53. Vicki Hird

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    Vicki Hird

    Whilst Senior Campaigner at Friends of the Earth

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?
    The Feeding5K (and their latest campaign @ThePigIdea) has been so impressive in engaging hugely diverse audiences – from grassroots and the public chopping veg at seriously fun events across the globe to high level UN delegates discussing global action. It’s been canny at surfing a wave of interest in a huge waste problem (in reality, partly created that wave) and benefitted from having a great communicator who also knows his stuff in Tristram Stuart.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    Things have changed massively from that pre web & digital era when I started – there was more deep commitment and late nights but probably less actual impact on policies and practices. We would shout as loud as we can but not be heard. Now we shout more carefully but so do many others (business, the web). We’ve been slow to adopt the right tools on occasion eg social media but we are, mostly, far more disciplined at mapping influence and knowing how to really effect change. One development I have witnessed is the over-adoption of business management jargon and approaches which don’t really suit time- and resource-poor NGOs.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?
    Sorry it’s not one – it would have to be the collective group of amazing local campaigners who achieve tangible changes locally – I meet many in the Friends of the Earth local Group network and in FoE International. They don’t get paid, yet year on year they plug away getting stuff done- awesome campaigners who blow my mind!

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?
    There are different types of campaigning but overall
    1. An ability to multitask – from fundraising to coping with a live R4 Today programme interrogation
    2. An open mind ready for new ideas or challenging preconceived ideas
    3. a great and engaging communicator

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?
    Most rewarding in outcome terms was the supermarket campaign to get a new retail Code of Practice and an Ombudsman –we got a new law and it involved working with lots of strange bedfellows – it took 8 years and is not perfect but it’s a start..

    Most exciting – The Friends of the Earth Fix The Food Chain Campaign – we did hugely crazy things (like dress up as cows dancing to a silent disco in Liverpool Street Station) to get a new Bill in parliament. It was ahead of its time and a major challenge to get the messaging right and get people engaged.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?
    Going against the grain I think they will be more about people on the ground, movement building.. The digital revolution has a key place and is a mighty tool – but truly engaging people will have to come from working with them more closely, recognising how to frame the campaign asks in ways which reflect real lives and values.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Get stuck in a local campaign so you develop a strong understanding of how messages and ideas play out with ‘real people’ as opposed to the strange NGO community!. But also work or volunteer if you can in an NGO – a great way to get experience. Just do stuff.. it does not matter what the topic is!

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    It would probably be an entomologist – finding fantastical new insect species in some remote part of the world or discovering a great way to manage pest populations in ways which did not harm biodiversity. Or a novelist…

  54. Gus Baldwin

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    Gus 4_opt

    Whilst Head of Public Affairs for Macmillan Cancer Support

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?
    Like most people I think the mental health community has had a pretty raw deal for far too long.  I’m full of admiration at the way that, despite repeated ‘false-dawns’, mental health organisations like Mind and Rethink have refused to give up. Their determination is grounded in the belief that the current situation just isn’t fair (it isn’t) and needs to change no matter how long it takes.  It now looks like there is, finally, going to be parity of esteem between physical and mental health conditions which will be fantastic and long-overdue.
    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    A lot are but some still see campaigning as the thing you do when you’ve run out of new service development ideas, which rather misses the point in my opinion.  At Macmillan Cancer Support we recognise that we are only going to dramatically improve the lives of people affected by cancer through a combination of creative service innovation and influencing.  In terms of changes I’ve seen in how Macmillan campaigns, alongside the greater involvement of people affected by cancer and the use of social media, we’ve invested significantly over the past few years in our research function so that in telling our story we can add even harder evidence to our on-the-ground expertise and the thousands of (good and bad) stories of people affected by cancer.  I think this reflects the reality that, generally-speaking, new ideas will now only make progress where they can clearly demonstrate to decision-makers and commissioners that they will deliver better outcomes for the end-user using less money and resources.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?
    I admire the innovators – the often lone individuals who decide they want to change something and drive it through using a new technology or social media tool at virtually no cost.  Maybe it is more jealousy than admiration!  My Public Affairs Team inspires me everyday – they’re the most passionate bunch of brilliant, driven people.  But I’m probably most inspired by the people affected by cancer I meet.  The ones who stand up in Parliament, often overwhelmed with nerves, and tell their story about the awful treatment they had, or how they couldn’t cope after the death of their son or daughter, or how they lost their job while going through treatment. All they want to do is try and stop another family going through what they went through.  Those moments go to the heart of what it means to be a part of Macmillan and why it is such a privilege to do the job I do.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?
    Passion tempered with realism, an ability to think ‘what next?’ before the competition, and a constant sense of dissatisfaction!

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?
    I’ve been very fortunately to work on a number of successful campaigns which have changed people’s lives for the better – that’s what makes them rewarding.  I was heavily involved in shaping the Disability Discrimination Act public duties and securing free prescriptions for cancer patients.  The two most exciting moments I’ve had recently both involved our work around the Welfare Reform Act.  Firstly, when Ed Miliband used all six questions at PMQs to demand that David Cameron listen to Macmillan and other cancer charities and, secondly, when we defeated the Government three times in the Lords.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?
    The devolution of decision-making powers in health and social care means that local influencing – or more accurately multi-level influencing – will becomes even more important.  I think the role of the end user in direct campaigning is also going to continue to grow.  I mentioned the need for even more hard evidence to demonstrate the case for reform.  Interestingly, I think the lack of money has also meant that the Government and Opposition Parties are starting to think in more creative ways – and involving more stakeholders – to solve problems.  I think campaigners will also follow suit.

    So, for example, rather than Macmillan campaigning to ensure benefit payments for cancer patients aren’t cut, I can see us working far more in partnership with employers and insurance companies to see how we can keep more cancer patients in work, ensure they are supported financially while they can’t work, and then get them back to work more successfully after treatment.  The outcome is hopefully the same – less cancer patients and families in poverty – but the way of achieving the outcome reflects the need to do things differently. I should stress it isn’t an ‘either or’ but I expect there will be a shift away from campaigning for state action to solve problems.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    We have an amazing internship programme at Macmillan and I am forever telling our interns to learn their trade properly first before deciding how to use the trade.  If you’re in a fantastic learning environment and you’re also doing precisely what you want then that’s a bonus (and don’t move!) but that’s rare.  If you have to compromise go for an organisation which really does value personal and team development.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    I would be the jazz pianist for Ronnie Scott’s House Band.  This would require me to learn to play the piano first though.

  55. Emma Gibson

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    Photo of Emma Gibson

    Deputy Head of Campaign at Greenpeace

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?
    I’ve been really impressed by the ‘no more page 3’ campaign set up by Lucy Holmes. She’s never run a campaign before but has chalked up huge successes already just by giving it a go. Truly inspirational.

    And I have to take my hat off to climate camp. Any group of people who can occupy a piece of land and have toilets, sinks with running water and an oven for making vegan cakes set up within hours, in the middle of a field that had sheep in it the previous day shows pretty amazing logistical know-how.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    Obviously the biggest change has been the internet and more recently the creation of social media. I didn’t have a computer or mobile phone when I started my first campaigning job so that’s a huge change in the way that campaigning organisations can disseminate information and mobilise support.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?
    Probably Doreen Lawrence for changing the way that we think and talk about race and racism in this country and for just not giving up.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?
    Tenacity: don’t give up in the face of setbacks

    Risk taking: Don’t be frightened to try something new

    Ability to understand where the power lies:  who can make the change that you need and how can you best influence them?

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why? 
    It would probably have to be the campaign to stop a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Greenpeace buying part of the new runway and inviting everybody around the world to own it with them was really fun.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?
    It’s got to be new technologies which are going to offer new opportunities to engage and mobilise support for our campaigns.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Stop talking about it and just get on with it! If one tactic doesn’t work, try another approach.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    A psychotherapist!

  56. Matt Downie

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    Photo of Matthew Downie

    Whilst Head of Parliamentary and Public Affairs at Action For Children

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire and why?
    I admire organisations and people that have a clear mission, underpinned by compelling evidence, and then have the resilience to stick to a campaign plan.

    Pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) is a great example of an organisation that has achieved specific aims – most recently in getting financial education on the school curriculum – based upon sound evidence and with both social and economic arguments that attract the full political spectrum.

    Another example is Afruca, a small but focussed charity who are campaigning to stop the abuse of children through religious practices of branding and witchcraft. Afruca is taking on a difficult area but with clear and compelling evidence of this horrific abuse, and with practical political recommendations.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I don’t think ‘better’ is the word. The mainstay of charity campaigning has become more professionalised and more of a career choice than a few years ago. This can be a good thing, with recognised skills within the sector, but we must be careful not to lose creativity, individual drive and risk taking.

    Which campaigner inspires you most?
    I have been fortunate enough to meet a few extraordinary campaigners with public
    profiles, including people like Hetty Bower, who is 107 and has spent her life
    campaigning for peace.

    For me however, it is those out of the limelight that don’t come with the label ‘campaigner’ that I find most inspiring. Last year I met a 14 year old young woman from Croydon who has started a campaign to tackle the trafficking of women and girls in  South London.  She has done this on her own and with no money, yet achieved real policy change in the local area.

    What three attributes make a good campaigner?
    There are things that you can learn (I certainly had to) such as the basics of strategic planning and how to build meaningful objectives. What I tend to look for now however, are people that demonstrate a commitment to social justice in some way, people who show positivity and empathy in working with campaign beneficiaries, and those with ideas.

    What’s the most rewarding or exciting campaign you’ve worked on and why?
    I am currently working on a campaign to overturn our Victorian law on child neglect. The campaign is about recognising the devastating impact of emotional abuse upon children. For me, this is not just exciting but vital – and I hopeto be able to look back on the campaign that represented a step-change in the way we view child protection.

    How do you feel campaigns will change over the next five years?
    The move towards more personal and beneficiary led campaigning should continue, and in time I think large organisations will embed this approach not just in their campaign strategies but within their staff structures. I hope as a sector we move towards campaigns that simply enable those affected by issues to achieve change for others affected by the issues at hand.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    I would ask them why they want to do it. Is it a particular cause or cohort of people that drives them? The answer to this question can and should direct a career path and ultimately make them more effective as a campaigner.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

  57. Kate Hudson

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    Kate Hudson

    General Secretary of  the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

    Apart from your current organisation, which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
    There are many organisations today that bring something positive and dynamic to the campaigning table. To mention just a few that I have a regard for: the Stop the War Coalition for articulating the views of the overwhelming majority of the population in an accessible and inclusive manner and facilitating the biggest demo in British history; the London Feminist Network for its youthful radicalism and reviving the Reclaim the Night marches; and Plane Stupid for its creative non-violent direct action approach.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?
    Bruce Kent. Bruce was the key player in CND in the 1980s and was more or less pushed out of the catholic priesthood for his anti-nuclear campaigning. He was vilified by the right-wing press and Tory politicians for his exceptional leadership of CND but stuck to his principles throughout. He remains extremely active today on anti-nuclear and other issues. The best thing about Bruce is that he never looks back and expounds on how he did things in the past. For Bruce, campaigning is all about now and the future.
    What advice would you give to someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    They have to believe in the cause they are championing and it has to be more important to them than anything else. And there is no room for cynicism. Cynicism and campaigning definitely do not mix. Optimism is essential, with confidence in humanity and the belief that you can win.

    What three things make a good campaigner?

      • an understanding of the wider world and the overall political context in which you are operating, and how to put together alliances within civil society to bring about political change
      • a strategic approach to creating the conditions for achieving your campaign’s goals
      • a positive approach to your own campaign combined with respect for others

    Which of these three do you have most of?
    Well I like to think I have all of them, but maybe number one is my main strength.

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?

    Perhaps number one although people have many different strengths and skills.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?

    I wouldn’t really describe it as a career, but during my campaigning life perhaps! I don’t think that question is quite right somehow. It is really the political balance of forces in wider society that determine whether campaigns succeed or not, not just what the campaigns themselves do and what methods they choose. One of the most successful campaigns was the Anti-Apartheid movement, but apartheid wasn’t overthrown solely or even largely to do with AA. It was the struggle of the ANC, backed by progressive states and opinion world-wide. AA linked in with that in a very effective way and was able to play its part. There are many examples of success – and failure – at all points over the decades I have been a campaigning activist. I think methods and style have changed because of technological changes but the fundamental issue is getting the politics right and that can happen – or not – at any time.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    I have only been employed as a campaigner since September 2010, because before that, as Chair of CND, I was an elected political officer but not an employee. So my ‘career’ has been as an academic – I am a historian by training, and taught, until joining CND staff full-time, at London South Bank University. I was fortunate to teach, research and write in my areas of political and campaigning interest, so there were obvious synergies between the two parts of my life. I plan to continue writing but campaigning is my great love – working to change the world for the better!


  58. Margaret Thatcher

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    I’m writing this just 3 hours after hearing that she died this morning. It’s strange feeling of trying to assemble all my thoughts about the death of Margaret Thatcher.

    When I was 7, I remember putting my hand up in class and answering a question about her becoming the first woman leader of the Conservatives.

    When I was 11, I remember getting free school dinners when my father, a steel worker in South Wales, went out on strike.

    At university, I recall the Conservative Association singing “10 more years” in 1989. And a year later organising a “Thatcher’s Gone” party the night she left office.

    And I’m sure I’m not alone in my uneasy reaction to the news of her death – she was so important to so many people’s formative years. Many campaigners in the sector have directly campaigned against her policies from 1979 to 1990. Others were motivated to dedicate their careers to campaigning whilst growing up while she was in power.

    When I started working for Shelter in 1993, under Sheila McKechnie’s leadership, a Conservative, or a Conservative who was “openly out” would not have been countenanced anywhere near 88 Old Street or even the EC1V postal sector.

    Slowly, since then, as the campaigning sector has expanded and as now the majority of charities campaign as opposed to only a handful 20 years ago – and also as the Conservative party has adapted and like other parties fight for the centre ground, then Conservative supporters are campaigning in the sector. And many do so and they genuinely have the right ethos for the campaigns that they represent.

    It isn’t the day to sum up the effect of Margaret Thatcher on the campaigning sector.  As it’s the day that an old lady, who has been very poorly in recent years has died. I’m sure we’ll hear more about her effective in the months to come.

  59. The Hardest Jobs To Get In Campaigning

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    Last month, we surveyed potential candidates who are working in the campaigning sector – you may well have taken part in it.

    We asked them which area of work their organisation focussed on and what type of organisation would they ideally like to work for next.

    Most popular type of organisation for their next role:

    1 International development/justice

    2 Social justice

    3 Human Rights

    4 Social welfare

    5 Health

    6 Environment

    7 Housing/homelessness

    8 Disability

    9 Other

    10 Animal welfare/Animal rights

    But perhaps more interesting, is assessing where people are working at the moment and where they want to go next – this brings in a bit of supply and demand, which
    shows which areas of campaigning are the most competitive to get into currently:

    Most competitive areas:

    1 Human Rights

    2 Social welfare

    3 Housing/homelessness

    4 Social justice

    5 International development/justice

    6 Environment

    7 Animal welfare/Animal rights

    8 Disability

    9 Other

    10 Health

    I’m surprised that Health has come so low down in terms of competitiveness, but I guess there a lot of campaigns working in this area. Human Rights being top is not a surprise. When we ask candidates where they want to work, top of the tree is human rights and international development. More people want to work international development than Human Rights, but as there are more jobs in development, then this make human rights more competitive.

    I hope this is a useful guide for you and may explain why you may find some job hunting harder than others.

  60. Alison Goldsworthy

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    Alison Goldsworthy

    Head of Supporter Strategy and Engagement at Which?

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
    I think WaterAid are brilliant. The emails they send out to their supporter network are always eye-catching and I’d be surprised if they don’t get a high action rate. I also really admire how they have managed to get the establishment to accept some of their issues but keep a radical edge. That takes some doing.

    Back home in Cardiff the Save the Vulcan campaign is a masterclass in local campaigning, with everyone you could imagine backing the campaign. It’s a great iconic pub, if you are in the city go and even if you can’t make it, sign the petition. If you are a guy, I’m told the gents toilets are well worth a visit.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?
    Clarence Wilcock – who took a stand against ID cards in the 1950’s leading to their demise. It saddens me they are making a comeback.

    Vaclav Havel – the most tenacious campaigner against Communism in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia as was) he never let up even against horrendous pressure and the led his country to freedom. Most impressively of all he worked out when to stop, stood down and let someone else take over.

    Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?
    There are some with whom I profoundly disagree, even hate, but I wouldn’t seek to deny their right to exist. Top on the hate list are The BNP, for obvious reasons. I don’t have much time for Christian Voice and Migration Watch either – I think they do a great disservice to debate with ill considered improper contributions that purport to represent people they don’t.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Find something that irritates you and try and change it – suggest a better alternative and bring others into your campaign. DO NOT ignore local engagement.

    What three things make a good campaigner?
    Tenacity, Audacity and people skills.

    Which of these three do you have most of?
    I’d hope people skills, but you probably need to ask those I work and have worked with.

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?
    Audacity: I think campaigners are often far too risk averse, for fear of breaking CC9 and getting in trouble with Charity Commission.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    A lot more professional, with best practice being shared. To me it’s the best thing about the sector.I’m especially pleased that more and more people are including user involvement in their campaigning strategies. Quite simply, I think if the end users don’t inform and shape your work, what legitimacy does it have?

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?

    Bored. And frustrated beyond belief.

  61. 1992 – Right Said Fred, Eldorado, Robert Halfon and Me

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    Robert Halfon is complaining about good and healthy organisations again – it’s like going back 20 years for me.

    Back then I was at the University of Exeter with Robert. I was Deputy President of the student union, he was Chair of the Conservative Association. His focus was then the supposed closed shop of student unions.

    Robert Halfon, who is now the Conservative MP for Harlow, told the Public
    Administration Select Committee that the Charity Commission had made “arbitrary
    decisions” about how much lobbying charities were allowed to do.

    “A charity should be about doing practical things,” he said. “Surely the
    real test of whether something is a charity is what it does on the ground.” 

    Halfon said that there were too many very large “Tesco charities” that spent millions of pounds lobbying in Whitehall.

    I think he was wrong and misguided in the early 90s about student unions. He just didn’t like the word union and the political connotations behind it, that was – left-wing and militant. And as a student, he was a member of a Union – which was repugnant to him. He tried to take a case to the courts in Strasbourg. He lost of course – student unions are just communities of students which have chosen to call themselves unions. And an inclusive student union was a practical and healthy community.

    In fact, in Exeter, they chose to call it a student Guild – which you would have thought was less militant and more cuddlier.

    And I think he is wrong today. His current concern about charities campaigning. Again, it’s not really the principal of them campaigning, it’s more that they are campaigning against things that he doesn’t agree with. His party is part of the current government and he wants to see charities weakened so that they can’t be so critical.

    In fact, I take the view that charities should campaign more to look to end or minimise the problem that they were set up to do. But some charities are not campaigning enough because of their concern of “biting the hand that feeds them” in terms of the funding from government they receive.

    In 1992, virtually the last thing I did as a Student Union representative was to win the vote at a general meeting against Robert Halfon on automatic membership of all, to the student body.

    I hope more of us who care about the charity campaigning sector will stand up and counter those who want to diminish the ability of charities to campaign and so lessen the chance of making our society or our world better.

  62. Lucy Tweedie

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    Whilst Director at Advocacy Associates

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
    Friends of the Earth – for their wide public reach and outsider advocacy stance
    Oxfam – for their creative public presence and strong policy and lobbying
    Wateraid – for their impressive evidence-based advocacy work

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?
    Shami Chakrabarti from Liberty. She combines a strategic approach with very clear media messages on challenging areas of debate.

    Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?
    Migration Watch – for their negative impact on the public debate about immigration.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Select the organisations carefully and check that they have advocacy work embedded in policy and programmes rather than just fundraising.

    Work on an issue you feel passionately about.

    Gain experience in a variety of organisations particularly in relation to ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ advocacy and work out where you feel politically most comfortable.

    Base all your campaigning work on a clear strategy and objectives.

    What three things make a good campaigner?

        Strategic mind
        Creativity and instinct
        Ability to communicate with a wide range of people

    Which of these three do most campaigners have most of?
    Creativity and instinct

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?
    Strategic mind

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    Advocacy with Southern partners in the case of International Development Organisations has been strengthened over the last ten years. Issues around legitimacy still exist.

    Coalition working has also improved the public understanding of campaigning

    Working in coalitions has led to considerable learning for the organisations involved.

    There has been a greater recognition of the need for advocacy and campaigning as a means for change across the voluntary sector.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    Documentary maker

    If you’re a campaigner with at least 3 years experience, and would like to tell us your views, answer the above questions and email a photo of you to

  63. Letter published in Third Sector 26th March 2012

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    It is disappointing to say the least to read that of the 30 staff who are at most risk of redundancy at Mencap are those in the campaigns, policy and communications teams. If this happens, it looks like “the voice of learning disability”  will become a little softer for a while.

    This proposal would be heading in the opposite direction of many other charities and  campaigning organisations who after a tough couple of years are in 2012 investing again growing in these areas. The marked increase in recruitment for campaigning and policy roles in the last quarter is producing a postive outlook at last for this sector for the rest of the year and hopefully beyond. And it doesn’f feel like it’s just a blip either.

    The reason Mencap is looking to cut campaigns, policy and communications roles was reported in Third Sector as lost funding from local authority contracts. I would have thought a loss of funding from this source would have meant a reduction in the charitable side of Mencap’s work rather the their work in gaining justice and long term change for people with learning disability.

  64. Obstacles to effective campaigning

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    Much of my writing and training on campaigning over the last five years or so has been around the theme of successful campaigning and I have tried to use my time to encourage others on what is possible for them to campaign about.

    But in recent months, I have begun to wonder if in fact by taking such a route I have ignored one of the biggest issues in ensuring effective campaigning – by which I mean spending time looking at the internal obstacles to effective campaigning.

    So what are those obstacles? Why don’t more people and NGOs run campaigns? What do you think? On a long journey recently I tried to list the obstacles that I had either experienced or heard of.

    I think that I could have stumbled upon a big issue here, and what I offer now is just work in progress – but what do you think? Have I missed any obstacles?

    Lack of research

    I have seen this happen so many times – people say we would love to campaign on an issue but we need more research. So the campaign stalls. While research is important, it can also be a huge reason for delay in starting a campaign.

    Nervous leadership

    Here the campaigners are ready, but the organisation’s leadership is nervous and the campaign stalls.


    This is a classic. The argument goes – we would love to campaign but we need a full-time campaigns post. And that nothing is possible without such a post. Really?

    Lack of shared values

    This is a sad one. The obstacle to campaigning comes down to not having a shared value set within the organisation.

    Lack of common understanding of advocacy campaigns

    This is another classic. With almost all of the advocacy campaigns consultancy work that I have done over the past 5 years or so this issue comes up. The issue of a common definition within the organisation is so important. I often find myself saying I don’t care what your definition is, but I would like you to share the same one within the

    Lack of a theory of change

    Have you seen this one? I know I have been guilty of this. So much effort goes into producing the research report and maybe getting some media coverage and then you just collapse exhausted with little idea of all this action happening so that something else happens. But without your theory of change at least sketched out, there is a good chance that your report will just be filed or thrown away and all momentum lost.

    Individual agendas taking over

    Here campaigning is undermined because individuals have their own agendas and seek opportunities to develop their agendas.

    Internal disharmony

    This is another sad one. Here the team or organisation is undermined by internal conflict. Sadly this can be a problem specially in small NGOs and it does so undermine effective campaigning.

    Lack of a common goal

    What is the point of your campaigning? Is it policy change? To recruit new supporters? To raise your profile? To raise money? What is your goal – effective campaigning needs focus and a clear goal. And agreement on the goal is so important.

    We are too busy to campaign

    Have I left the best until last? I see this so often – we are so busy delivering services to meet the need that we can’t campaign. So that nothing ever changes so that you stay busy. I just get excited by those smaller NGOs who can both deliver services but also embed their campaigning into the soul of their organisation. They do both activities because they know they need to do both – but one fits seamlessly into the other – they see these actions as being on one continuum.

    So that’s my initial list. I am sure that I have missed loads. What do you think? It would be great to hear from you with other obstacles and we could then publish them in a fresh blog. And I will try next time to tentatively suggest some answers to these obstacles.

  65. Campaigning in Somalia

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    One of my recurrent themes for this blog over the years has been my fascination and amazement at the fact that the language of campaigning is truly international.

    I recently put that theory to the test again by undertaking an assignment for Saferworld in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland.

    Over a five day period I ran a two day advocacy course followed by a three day train the trainers’ course so that the participants could take the training out to their communities and inspire advocacy action.

    The audience was representatives from the three non-state actor platforms in Somaliland (SONSAF), Puntland (PUNSAA) and South and Central Somalia (SONSCENSA). These platforms consisted of member organisations ranging
    from community groups to business associations.

    On my trip out to Somaliland via Nairobi I did feel somewhat apprehensive. This was one of the most challenging environments for advocacy campaigning – would my messages resonate with them?

    But my feelings of apprehension were soon swept away as a focus on problem and solution, evidence, messaging, allies, influence trees, using opposition and a theory of change seemed to work with them.

    Even the elevator pitch – 15-30 seconds to convey your key campaign message – seemed to work although we struggled for a while with the Somali translation for elevator pitch.

    Then the train the trainers section proved to be inspiring to me as the platforms began to construct their own training in their own words so that they could take the training out themselves.

    But above all I was left with an overriding impression of passionate and committed people driven to promote the role of civil society in making a difference to people’s lives and futures and committed to using advocacy methods to achieve this change.

    Advocacy campaigning really is an international language.

  66. Holding out for a hero with The Right Ethos

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    Earlier this week I tweeted:

    Help for Heroes is non-political and non-critical, we simply want to help” – that’s suitable, but means that they don’t have the right ethos

    Help for Heroes have just recently won an award for being the Most Admired Charity and this comment about being “non-political and non-critical” struck me and realised that with that attitude they will never be a client of The Right Ethos.

    All of the organisations we work with are critical. And most of them get involved in the  political debate to a greater or lesser extent. Personally, I’m glad they do. Because the aspirations of our client organisations are, I believe, higher. They work to change our world or our society for the better. They campaign for justice.

    There’s certainly a place for charities who simply want to help out. And I wouldn’t be sniffy about them. They can provide a valuable safety net. Or provide activities that you wouldn’t expect to be paid for out of our taxes.

    My award for Most Admired Charity 2011 would go to one that campaigns and is critical and often supports political behaviour to gain permanent change.

    To show that we don’t wish any bad will, many of the Christmas cards sent out by The Right Ethos this year are in aid of Help for Heroes.

    Season’s Greetings

  67. Evie Papada

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    Evie Papada

    Whilst Campaign Coordinator at Amnesty International

    Who is the campaigner you admire the most?
    The campaigner I admire the most is Sarah Duthie. She is a campaigner at Greenpeace.

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisation that campaigns do you currently admire?
    ‘War on Want’- They seem to campaign on very topical issues and they have the most updated campaign calendar: the messages they send through are original and it urges you to take action.

    What advice would you give to someone starting their career in campaign today?
    I would urge them to remind themselves that we campaign in order to foster change and not just to raise awareness on issues – i would also advice them to spend enough time planning their campaign strategies and always evaluate the work at different stages of the campaign development.

    What 3 things make a good campaigner?

        Good preparation and planning of the campaign strategy.
        Creativity and boldness in decision making.
        Ability to deliver the campaign message in such a way that it is simple, catchy, using as few words as possible.

    Which of these three things do campaigners have most of?

    Campaigners have all of the above things to a lesser or greater extent – campaigning is both an art and a science, so campaigners tend to be creative and also good at creating thorough plans and effective strategies.

    Which of the 3 is missing the most…

    Most campaigners are not paying enough attention to the preparation and planning process – as they tend to apply strategies that have proved successful in previous campaigns but they don’t necessarily work for all campaigns.

    Are organisations getting better at campaigning….

    There are more campaigning tools out there now and new information tech has helped those organisation that know how to use them effectively to become better at campaigning.

    If you weren’t a campaigner what would you be?

    I would be a painter or a musician – I would find another way to channel my artistic abilities.


  68. Lizzie Jeans

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    Lizzie Jeans

    Whilst Campaigns Consultant at End Child Poverty

    Lizzie is freelance campaigner. She was previously Campaigns Manager at Help the Aged and has worked for the Methodist Church, People & Planet and Christian Aid.
    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
    Shelter, Christian Aid, RNID and YWCA.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?
    Guy Hughes of Crisis Action and People & Planet. Guy was a fantastic campaigner who was tragically killed in an accident in 2006. I worked with Guy at People & Planet and he was a huge influence on my development as a campaigner – especially the need to think about levers of power and influence. The Sheila McKechnie Foundation has a award for young campaigners in his memory.

    Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?
    The BNP

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Being someone who’s easy to get on with and who delivers goes a long way. Make as many contacts as you can and keep in touch with people. Think of opportunities for collaborative working.

    What three things make a good campaigner?
    Drive and tenacity, strategic thinking and strong networking skills.

    Which of these three do you have most of?
    I can be a good networker and enjoy spotting opportunities to work with others.

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?
    The ability to always be thinking strategically at where you want to achieve change and looking at the balance of power, appropriately targeting your chosen audience at key times, where you can have most impact. Campaigners, including myself, often have so many demands, you can lose sight of your key objectives.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    More organisations are campaigning and there is a more crowded market. The public has a greater understanding of campaigning but is also more savvy about campaigning techniques. However, despite the increasing number of organisations who have campaign supporters, it is the same few organisations who are are able to genuinely mobilise large numbers of people to demonstrate.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    A journalist.

  69. Meeting Wangari Maathai – environmental and social activist

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    The death of Wangari Maathai on 25th September 2011, took me back to the day I was fortunate to meet her. It was the same day as Live 8 Day in 2005.

    At the time, I was the Mayor of Islington and for my year in office, I had a theme – a small campaign to try and affect public attitude in the borough. I called it “International In Islington”, where we celebrated different countries and regions linked with Islington – through our residents and the work done in the borough.

    And to take the fact that we are international positively, instead of the negative outlook that some newspapers had and still have today.

    That day I had three events to attend under my international theme. The first one was to celebrate Africa In Islington. The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Professor Wangari Maathai attended the African Diaspora and Development Day, held by the charity AFFORD on Holloway Road.

    Professor Maathai was a member of the Kenyan government and was internationally recognised for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She had just became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The Honourable Professor Wangari Maathai was the Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya. She was also the Founder and former co-ordinator of the Green Belt Movement.

    I managed to spend some time talking to her in the “green room” before the event. For me, as someone who had spent 2 months in Kenya & had just finished working for the World Development Movement, meeting WangariMaathai on Live 8 Day at an African disapora event was tremendously special.

    Like all the best campaigners I’ve ever met, she was utterly optimistic, she once said:
    “I have always believed that, no matter how dark the cloud, there is always a thin, silver lining, and that is what we must look for us.”

    If you care about campaigning, I can recommend her biography – but if at least Google or Wiki her and find out more about this important woman.

  70. So what next?

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    I recently returned from Germany where I led an advocacy capacity building session for an NGO, and as I have often remarked in the past in a room full of different nationalities, there really is a common international language of advocacy campaigns.

    I was also struck at how the big challenges in this work are also common. For me in my day job at the Refugee Council I am forever boring my colleagues about the importance of momentum in successful campaigning. Getting a sense of momentum and progress with a campaign is just so important but also so hard sometimes to achieve.

    During the session in Germany, we talked about the huge internal effort that can sometimes go into producing a report, developing key messages and then maybe holding a press conference. Once that has been achieved and a few press headlines garnered, it is tempting just to collapse with all of the energy used up.

    But this is just the start of something in advocacy terms – how is the report, messages and press coverage going to be used to energise the broader campaign for the impact you are seeking?

    I have been heavily influenced, as I have written before, about the importance of a theory of change in advocacy campaigning. Now this sounds really complex but it can be as simple as developing a road map for how you want to see your issue take off. And you can be helped by those two little words ‘so’ and ‘that’.

    So I found towards the end of the session that people were talking about an advocacy activity like a press release or a lobbying meeting, then pausing before linking up the sentence with a ‘so that’ and going on to list future advocacy activities.

    I know it all sounds so simple. So simple that I know myself from my own practice that we don’t always get around to doing so.

    At the Refugee Council we have identified our four key advocacy priorities for action (and in case you’re interested they are: destitution, detention, housing and legal support to asylum seekers.) And we are now beginning to develop our theories of change for each issue, fuelled by some research and beginning to map out how we want these issues to take off.

    So next time you find yourself talking about an advocacy activity don’t just stop there – pause, say ‘so that’ and then continue with your aspirations. I am convinced that one enemy of effective advocacy campaigning is a lack of momentum – but a persistent use of ‘so that’ can be a very powerful remedy. What do you think?

  71. Building capacity for advocacy campaigning

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    What is the best way to help train campaigners? Is it a week long course? A day course at regular intervals? Mentoring support? A peer group?

    There is clearly no one answer but it is one question that has been much on my mind recently. A year ago at the Refugee Council, we ran a campaign training course for refugee leaders in London. We got good feedback for our training but despite this feedback, the course participants then found it hard to develop their campaigns. We offered mentoring support focussing on the individual organisation and the campaigning activity took off.

    Our reflection on our learning was that while our training had been ok, it had been offered at an abstract level and had not been rooted in the daily experiences of the organisations. We are about to engage in year 2 of this project and this time around we will be focussing both on developing the capacity of the organisations as well as developing their campaigning skills.

    Campaign training cannot exist in a vacuum – it has to be applied to the reality of the campaigning environment, both internal and external, which is facing the organisation.

    It did make me reflect that as an activist learner, I was far more focussed on running campaigns and delivering campaign training than on the practical day to day realities for the organisation. But when I paused for thought it has always been the internal dynamics that have presented the biggest challenges to my campaigning.

    So when I had the chance to hear Chris Stalker talk about his new praxis paper for INTRAC on capacity building for advocacy, I knew after my recent experiences that I had to be there to hear his conclusions. His presentation was very helpful to my thinking and his paper has just been published – see Intrac

    Do make sure that you have a look at this paper; it contains plenty of food for thought and has helped me to think about this issue.

    And a few months ago when I ran the advocacy and policy influencing course for INTRAC to an audience of NGO staff from across the globe, I was keen for Chris to come along as a guest speaker. I was interested to see how his message went down so well with such a diverse audience. From their positive feedback this is clearly an issue whose time has come.

    How are you approaching capacity building for your advocacy work?

  72. Charities should challenge politicians’ view of them

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    The article “Donors Will Reject Charities” refers to comments form a Canadian charity law expert. He spoke at a European-wide conference stating that donors in 10 years time will question whether charities are worth funding as they don’t solve social problems, but simply make things more tolerable.

    I think we need to note that his comments may not be directly applicable for the UK. He spoke at a European event and he is from Canada. But in the UK, particularly over the last 12 years, charities are tackling the root causes of social problems – ever increasingly so.

    Charities are campaigning more, working on public affairs better & increasing their engagement on the parliamentary level. And the general public, including donors, are more and more open to campaigning as the most effective way to change our society & our world for the better.

    Those of us who care about the campaigning sector just need to counter those politicians – often the target of our campaigning – who wish to see charities as inoffensive, cuddly organisations and even want to use charities to financially off-set some of the responsibilities of the state.


  73. Don’t lose the fire in your eyes

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    A while ago I led an advocacy campaigns training course about how to work with the UK Government and Parliament. As part of that course, the group went across to Parliament and met with a Conservative MP to hear directly from him about the role of the MP.

    One of the questions that the group asked the MP was: what do you look for when some-one comes to see you? His reply was interesting. He said firstly he would look for a local connection to his constituency. Fair point. And then he said something that really surprised me. He said that he also looked for fire in some-one’s eyes. And if they had passion about their issue, he was more likely to engage with them and to take them seriously.

    Fascinating. A lesson there for all of us campaigners and certainly for me. I just know if you are working in a large bureaucratic organisation, it is sometimes easy to lose that passion and sink into the reality of working in a complex organisation. Yet there is an irony here because for all these large bureaucratic NGOs, they all started small with a burning desire to achieve change – that is why they were formed.

    So while we talk about the need to professionalise campaigning, and I have been very involved with many others in developing campaign training, one thing is central and should never to be lost: don’t lose your passion and the fire in your eyes. It is one element that makes me love working for the voluntary sector – that you can show your passion.

    I started my career in the NHS. And towards the end of my time there, I received an unsolicited piece of career feedback from my boss. He said to me if I was going to get on, I would need to leave my conscience at home. I decided I couldn’t do that and it led me to leave the NHS.

    But after all my years in the voluntary sector, bringing my conscience to work with me, this was a real reminder and a note to myself: don’t forget to keep the fire burning in your eyes!

  74. Developing your theory of change

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    A couple of months ago I was involved in running the residential weekend for the Sheila McKechnie Foundation award winners.

    We had gathered the award winners together and over the course of a long weekend attempted to cover some of the key points in campaigning – reflecting on both success and failure. I am always struck when doing these events at what things work with different groups.

    This time talk about developing a theory of change for a campaign seemed to resonate with people. This was nothing complicated but using the simple device of ‘so that’ to create a chain of events to demonstrate how you see your campaign unfolding. Those two little words ‘so’ and ‘that’ can help you link your campaign actions together and show how your issue can take off. Basically, it works in this way… we are going to do something so that something else happens so that etc. Simple, but effective. Try it on your issue.

    When I started off campaigning I think that I created a theory of change chain in my head; what I have come to realise is how important it is to write it down and then use your words to review progress and reflect on your learning. Indeed one of the most simple monitoring and evaluation approaches for campaigning is to spend time reviewing your theory of change:

    • What happened?
    • What was different to what you expected?
    • What have you learnt from this experience?
    • What will you do differently?

    And then a while later I was involved in an advocacy training course for INTRAC – the international NGO training and research centre. What I love about these courses is that INTRAC is able to pull together people from across the globe, who have a common interest in campaigning and seeking policy change. We had people from Thailand, Middle East, Timor Leste, Tanzania, Ethiopia to name just a few places. Again I was struck by how the theory of change model seemed to help people.

    We discussed how to pick the right issue to run with when you are developing an advocacy campaign, and our conclusion was that if you can develop a good theory of change chain of events, you stand a good chance of developing a real sense of momentum on a campaign. And campaigning is nothing if not developing real momentum.

    If you are interested in reading more about this issue, and many other things as well, you should take a look at Brian Lamb’s new ‘Guide to campaigning and influencing’. I should add that I am not on commission, but I did read this book recently – and it does pull together all the key elements of campaigning information very neatly. It’s well worth a look!

  75. Definitions

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    When I have run advocacy campaign training in the past, an early obstacle can be the issue of definitions.

    So when I was at a conference recently in Manchester, I was very taken by the definitions offered by Justin Nsengiyumva from Refugee Action who runs their TRIO project.

    Firstly he suggested that a policy is a plan, course of action or set of regulations adopted by government, business or an institution designed to influence and determine decisions or procedures. He argued that a policy is what a government or institution decides to do or not to do.

    He then suggested that advocacy is the deliberative process of influencing those who make policy decisions.

    Within this definition, he suggested that there were several key ideas:

    Advocacy is about influencing those who make policy decisions by making full use of all the advocacy tools available. It is not always just about being confrontational.

    Advocacy is a deliberative process involving intentional actions and therefore you must be clear who you are trying to influence and which policy you wish to see changed.

    The policy makers encompass many types of decision makers and we should never forget in our advocacy strategies that policy makers are human beings too.

    Finally Justin highlighted three concepts that underpin the need for advocacy campaigns:

    1.      To create policies where they are needed or none exist

    2.      To reform harmful or ineffective policies

    3.      To ensure that good policies are implemented and enforced

    What do you make of this approach? Is it helpful to your planning?

  76. The need for campaigning focus

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    Last month I had the opportunity to go over to Warsaw to run a two day training course over a weekend for Polish NGOs.

    The brief for the workshop was fairly clear: to run an introductory session on campaigning to inspire and motivate the NGOs. As ever with these international workshops, and as I have blogged about before, I was slightly apprehensive – would my campaigning rhetoric resonate in a Polish context?

    Yet as ever I found that the language of campaigning is truly global; it really is an international language. I found people who had a burning desire to achieve change, were focussed on the problem and the solution, knew who their targets were and were keen to think about relevant campaign messages. And when I talked about planning for that moment of campaign success, they were with me again and were keen to think about how they could build in such planning to their overall campaign planning.

    But on the second day, one of the delegates came up to me and said that I had changed her thinking about campaigning. I was surprised as the group had seemed to be with me, but I asked her what she meant by that phrase. She said that she had been challenged by my insistence that campaigners needed to focus – to pick an issue and then stick with it to achieve change.

    She said that she was now going to have to go away and re-think: what was their focus going to be? But she also knew that this concept of focus would be hard to promote in her NGO.

    I was keen to respond that it is good to have your menu of things you want to see changed – never lose that policy shopping list. And always be on the look-out for opportunities to raise any of these issues. But focus is so important for effective campaigning. By all means use opportunities but do not lose sight of your primary focus and keep chipping away. There is always such a temptation to run with a variety of issues – but remember to focus.

    And focus was also the key theme when I was in Manchester recently running a campaigning workshop for a dynamic group of refugee campaigners. We listed all of the injustices facing asylum seekers at the moment and came up with a long list of issues. In the refugee sector we are not short of things to campaign on – the challenge that they were left with was: what would be their campaigning focus?

    So what is your campaigning focus at the moment? Do you have a focus for your campaigning or are you trying to run with a basket full of campaigns?

  77. Ray Mitchell

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    Ray Mitchell

    Whilst Senior Campaigns Manager at Age UK (Formerly Age Concern England)

    Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
    It’s difficult to single out individual organisations as there are excellent examples of campaigning everywhere, but I regularly visit and admire their creativity and how quickly they respond to events.

    Who is the campaigner you most admire?
    Again, it’s hard to pick out one in particular. At the recent NCVO campaigners conference, I was very impressed by Jackie Schneider who organised Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools. For someone who
    described herself as ‘not a real campaigner like you lot’ she described
    passionately the development and impact of a text book campaign.

    Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?
    Not really. Even those we disagree with can teach us something about how an issue can be seen from different perspectives and how campaign messages can influence how people think and act in entirely different ways on the same issue.

    What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
    Don’t be afraid to copy (and improve on) other campaigners’ ideas, but also challenge yourself to come up with an idea that everyone else wishes they had.

    What three things make a good campaigner?
    Passion, persistence and a steady stream of good ideas

    Which of these three do you have most of?
    They may not all be good, but I’m never short of ideas

    Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?
    I think sometimes persistence can be lacking: it’s easy to get disheartened when achieving campaign objectives can seem impossible or a very long way off.

    Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career? If so, what’s changed?
    There’s certainly a lot more campaigners than twenty years ago when I started. On the whole I think there is much more professionalism – I’m in the camp that sees this as a good thing – and high quality work.

    If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
    Hopefully another job that combines opportunities for creativity with helping to improve things – I’m not sure what that would be so I’m glad I’m a campaigner.

  78. 6 pathways

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    In my last blog, I wrote about my new interest in London Citizens and their approach to organising taken from Chicago and the work of Saul Alinsky.

    But as I finished last time, despite my enthusiasm I was left wondering where this approach fitted with other forms of campaigning the like of which I was more familiar.

    Then I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by Chris Stalker on the work that he has been doing on advocacy capacity building. In his thought provoking session (and his forthcoming paper on advocacy capacity building written for INTRAC will be well worth reading), he referred to a report that has come out of the States: Pathways for Change: 6 theories about how policy change happens by Organizational Research Services.

    The report sets out, you will not be too surprised to hear, six theories for how policy change happens – one of which includes organising. I have been sending this report out to loads of people since I heard Chris speak; what I like about it is that it shows campaigning as a spectrum with an array of approaches but different situations and issues will call on different approaches. It is good to see these different approaches laid out so clearly and with academic references and the relevant academic discipline – there is no one right approach.

    So what are these pathways?

    1. ‘Large Leap’ – where large scale policy change is the goal. How about the campaign against apartheid?
    2. ‘Coalition theory’ – co-ordinated activity among a range of individuals with the same core belief. How about the campaign for a smoking ban in public places?
    3. Policy windows – advocates using a window of opportunity to push a policy solution. How about the current initiatives to use the government review of child detention to push for an end to all asylum detention?
    4. ‘Messaging and frameworks’ – the key issue for influence is how issues are framed and presented. How about campaigners at the moment trying to re-frame their issue in the language of the Big Society?
    5. ‘Power Politics’ – where policy change is achieved by working directly with those with power. This made me think about my own campaigning with the last government on tackling empty homes.
    6. Community organising theory – where policy change happens through the collective action of the members of a community who work on changing problems affecting their lives. How about the London Citizens Living Wage campaign?

    But don’t take my interpretation of this paper – take a look yourself! If you read one thing over the next few months as part of your own professional development how about you take a look at this article and see how you respond to these six pathways?

  79. Charities must increase their investment in campaigning

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    Mike Hobday who leads on campaigns at MacMillan Cancer Support is right to say that “the role of campaigning will increase as spending cuts take effect”.

    The most progressive organisations, and I’d count MacMillan Cancer Support firmly within this group, are realising that they need to get a better “bang for their buck” – a better return on their spending. And at this time of threatened cuts it brings to the fore that successful campaigning gives the better return than any other activity for an organisation which is concerned about the long term goals.

    The less progressive organisations which perhaps don’t take campaigning for real change seriously, but see if as an add-on because other charities are doing it, may look to reduce their emphasis in this area. They will be doing their campaign and the beneficiaries of their campaign a severe disservice in the long term.
    Mike referred to campaigning being important in order “to leverage the system to their advantage”. This is very true and it will be a measure of the charities and campaigns over the coming months to see how genuine they are about long term change, by increasing their investment in campaigning.

  80. Citizens – real activism

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    In the run-up to the General Election, it was hard not to hear about them. James Purnell resigned from the Cabinet to become one and they organised one of the most dynamic leadership hustings during the campaign.

    I am of course referring to London Citizens. I was intrigued as to what they were all about, and they generously allowed me to participate in one of their organiser training sessions recently even though my employer is not yet a member of London Citizens.

    I went on the training session slightly sceptical but became more and more interested as we worked through the concept of organising. Yet by lunchtime on the second day, I was yet to be totally convinced by it all.

    And then one thing changed my mind – we did an activity. There must have been over 70 people on this training course and most of us stayed on for the Saturday afternoon for the promised activity.

    It was all linked to their Living Wage campaign.

    What I love about this campaign is that they have focussed on the core problems of their members – one of which was the difficulty of living in London on the national minimum wage – but developed a local solution: the living wage. This figure currently stands at £7.60 some £1.87 higher than the minimum wage.

    And then instead of waiting for a national campaign to unfold, they targeted local employers, initially in the banking sector, to pay all their staff including contract staff the Living Wage.

    And since its launch in 2001 an estimated £24m has been put back in the pockets of low wage workers. Remarkable – what impact!

    On that Saturday afternoon, in the rain, they got us all to visit three shops on Oxford Street and ask to see the shop manager. With my three shops, I was amazed how easy it was to see the manager, to make my case about the Living Wage and to hand over a letter to their Chairman. And all of us did three shops and we covered the length of Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Bond Street.

    I just loved this idea of using activists on a training course to do some real activism. It is a lesson to all of us involved in running campaign training – are we missing a trick by not getting the participants involved in some real action?

    I just could not ignore the power and energy behind this training and this action – Citizens are clearly offering a very powerful methodology to civil society in this country. If you don’t know about them and you are interested in campaigning, you really do need to get to know them.

    But despite my increasing personal enthusiasm for London Citizens, I was left wondering where they fit in with other approaches to campaigning.

    Next time I will try to address that question ….

  81. Which campaigner inspires you?

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    Who inspires you in your campaigning? Who do you look up to? Who motivates your campaigning?

    I may have struggled to answer that question until recently when I attended the Sheila McKechnie Foundation campaigners’ conference and heard Kumi Naidoo speak about campaigning. Kumi was recently appointed the executive director of Greenpeace International and has an awesome campaigning background

    He gave the key note speech at the SMK event and I could have listened to him all day. If you do one thing this year as part of your development I urge you either to hear him speak or read his writing.

    There was so much to take from his speech. I was taken by him saying that the core principles of campaigning are still valid. He appealed to a sense of history for our current campaigning. History tells us that decent people must stand up and put their life on the line. In saying that, he added that he felt that campaigners put too much emphasis on the insider track. Food for thought.

    He spoke of two tribes in campaigning – one internally focussed and one externally focussed – but his key message that struck a chord with me was that these two tribes need to work together. He pointed to the success of the landmine campaign that led to the Ottowa treaty, where the insider and outside campaign strategies had worked together.

    He also said that the struggle was a marathon, not a sprint, and that we need to offer a lifetime of commitment. Maybe this is a message that we could take to our funders?

    But above all his passion and his commitment shone through for me from his words. In all of our talk about professionalising campaigning, we must never lose sight of why we campaign. We must never lose sight of the injustice and the change we seek in our world. Yes, we should be professional – but professional with passion and spark – without that we will never achieve our goals in our lifetimes of struggle.

    For more information about Kumi Naidoo:

  82. Campaigning is all about failure?

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    Last month I did a session on INTRAC’s advocacy and policy influencing training course. I do enjoy getting involved with these sessions as they attract NGO delegates from across the world and you get a real sense that campaigning is a truly international language.

    I had been asked to say a few words about running a campaign in terms of both success and failure, and I am always interested in how different groups will pick up and explore different elements from my presentation.

    This time the group was keen to explore and discuss the issue of failure in campaigning. Maybe in an environment of tight finances and funders ever more focussed on impact,  there isn’t any room for failure and we just have to, as campaigners, get it right first time? Or is there still room to try things and fail?

    I was struck by an email that I received from one of the delegates once he had returned to his home continent. He quoted me as saying:

    ‘Campaigning is all about failure, learning from the failure and building on the learning from the failure’.

    Now I am not entirely sure that I used those words because campaigning is not all about failure – as success is also important, but campaigning is certainly about learning from that failure. As campaigners we need to have both the courage and space to try things, assess how they go, learn from this activity and try again.

    For me campaigning has always been an art and not a science. Yes, you can attend training sessions and read books and case studies, but campaigning for me is all about an instinctive desire for change rooted in a curiosity, leading to an understanding, about the external environment.

    Despite the internal and external pressures at the moment, do not be wary of trying new things. The advent of a new Parliament in the UK with a large number of new MPs after 6th May gives us as campaigners a great opportunity to try new things, reflect from that activity and keep moving forwards.

    So do cherish failure in campaigning. When I have done research on campaigning in the past, I have found that people were very happy to talk about their successes but less so their failures. But we have all made mistakes, I certainly have, and I think that we should cherish this failure (unless we keep on making the same mistakes!). But do you cherish your failure in campaigning?

  83. Using Opposition (part 3)

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    In my last blog I described a technique to utilise the opposition arguments against your campaign.

    Let’s take an example of this method being used in practice. I used to campaign against the scandal of empty homes at the Empty Homes Agency. And a few years ago we were campaigning for new powers to tackle empty homes.

    The key arguments against such new powers on empty homes were that owners should be free to do what-ever they wanted with their property, that these powers would undermine this freedom and that there was not a problem with homes being empty.

    Historically our key campaign message had been around tackling empty homes as a solution to tackling homelessness. That was the campaign message that motivated me. But it didn’t resonate with the owners of empty homes who we were trying to get on board.

    So we used the opposition matrix technique described in my last blog. And we began to change our campaign message having reflected on the opposition to our campaign. We began to address the concerns by talking about the impact that empty homes can have on neighbouring occupied property. A survey from Hometrack (June 2003) found that empty homes can devalue neighbouring property by as much as 18%.

    We also talked about empty homes attracting crime and vandalism in an area; the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) had referred to empty homes as being ‘honey pots for crime’. These were reasons to support our campaign on empty homes and specifically to address the concerns against our campaign. We found that these new messages resonated much more with our target audience and helped to us to attract new media coverage.

    This method was useful for us to think about our opponents’ concerns and use public messages that would address those concerns, as opposed to using our normal messages about the need to bring these homes back into use to help homeless people.

    I had learned a useful campaign lesson – it is often more important to use the campaign messages that resonate with your target audience than the messages that motivate you. This was hard for my ego but good for the campaign.

  84. Using Opposition (part 2)

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    In my last blog I wrote about the importance of taking time to collect the arguments that are used against your campaign, and I suggested in your campaign planning team to list all of the arguments that you have heard used against your campaign.

    So you list, on the left hand side of a page, all of the possible concerns that may be expressed about your campaign. What might be said by others about your campaign? And then list, on the other side of the page, the key reasons in support of your campaign. (See chart below)

    The next step is to see whether at least one of the reasons for supporting your campaign provides an answer to each of the concerns – is there a reason to address each concern. Or are there outstanding concerns that your reasons do not address?


    Concern about the campaign Reason to support the campaign


    As your campaign develops you should be able to identify which of the concerns feature highest with your target or your wider target audience. With that knowledge, you then need to ensure that your campaign message addresses that concern. In many respects this is a statement of the blindingly obvious, but as campaigners we are often guilty of just running with the messages that motivate us. I know that this is true for me!

    We are already motivated by our campaign as are, hopefully, our supporters. This technique is all about building wider support.

    In my next blog I will explain how I sought to use this technique in one of my campaigns ….

  85. Using Opposition (part 1)

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    A few weeks ago I was running a session for some community organisations on developing a campaign message. We had covered the key ground of highlighting the problem and the solution, as well as spending some time testing the message using the elevator test.

    I have found this test to go down really well in campaign training – you act as though you have just stepped into an elevator and meet the person that you have spent weeks trying to speak to as part of your campaign – and you have 12-15 seconds to make your campaign pitch. It’s a bit of fun but also a great way to hone your campaign message).

    Anyway we had covered some of the basics and the session seemed to be going well, when one of the participants lobbed in a question – “this was all well and good,” he said, “but how should you use what your opponents say about your issue? Or should you just ignore it?”

    Good question – and it opened a good debate amongst the group. Opinion was split as to whether opposition should just be ignored and that you need to stay focussed on your campaign ask, or whether you should analyse any opposition and seek to use it in your campaign planning.

    I must add that I used to be firmly in the former camp. When I started out campaigning, I had very little interest in what opposition there was to my campaigns. I knew what I was trying to achieve and put all of my energy into trying to build an alliance to achieve this campaign goal.  I had little time for thinking about any opposition to the campaign.

    Then a few years ago, I went on a media course and as part of this course we were asked to brainstorm all of the arguments that we had heard used against your campaign.

    Have you ever done this exercise? It is a great thing to do in your campaign planning group – just spend a bit of time listing all of the arguments against your campaign. And if you do it in a group you will find that you will come up with a longer list of arguments as different people will have picked up on different points against your campaign

    In my next blog I will describe how we were encouraged to use this list of arguments to help us strengthen our campaign message….

  86. You’ll never meet a poor bookie – how betting can help campaigning

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    Recently, I was on the Forum for Change’s Discussion board and someone asked:

    “We’re looking at PPCs and who is the most likely to get in at the next election so we can try and make contact ahead of May. Do you know if there is an easy way to bring up a list of people from each party who have a small majority?”
    I don’t gamble myself, as I like to keep my money rather than fritter it away, but I am intrigued by the market that betting creates. How it uses knowledge and gives it numerical and financial values.

    That’s why I replied to this question as follows:

    “There are probably ways of finding or collating such lists. However, they give you little information on what’s happening beyond what happened 5 years ago in the poll.

    I think you need to be cannier to identify the real marginals. This is a report released earlier in October looking at 238 marginals and polling voter intentions:

    But, I would also look at the political betting markets to get an indication of potential change. You need to understand your odds and it’s probably worth having the results of the 2005 polls with you as you look.
    Try – Political betting

    The bookies are never 100% right – if they were no-one would bet, but they may well be 80% correct – so great information, based on real knowledge which can inform campaigning.”

  87. Letter of the Week in Third Sector Magazine

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    Dear Editor,

    I was at an event today when I heard something that nearly made me fall off my chair. Not in surprise because I know it was not an uncommon view being expressed, but not one that I thought someone was daft enough to state to the audience gathered.

    The person, who was responsible for brand for a charity – very forward, very 2012 thinking, having a role just looking at charity brand and nothing else. This person said:

    “Yes I’m very interested in campaigning. It’s vital towards supporting our brand.”
    Readers of this who are not aware of anything wrong with this statement, please put yourself in The Wrong Ethos category. For those who didn’t know, campaigning was not invented to create brand awareness. It’s not there to give some colour to the “donor’s journey”.

    Pretty sure that the suffragettes didn’t have the following thought process:
    “Feel a bit uneasy about the throwing one of us in front of the king’s horse idea – I think it doesn’t fit in within our current branding guidelines.

    Or the Anti-Apartheid Movement consider that demonstrating outside the South African embassy may conflict with the branding work that they’ve done and so affect the face-to-face fundraisers in nearby Leicester Square.

    We campaign to change our society and the world we live in. To achieve change. Not to support an everlasting circle of marketing and brand re-positioning. The ultimate aim for a campaign is to be so successful that there is no need for it to exist.

  88. Young Uprisers

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    Oh the apathy of youth! I well remember when I was a student and my generation was slammed for being apathetic and I hear similar calls today. Any maybe it has always been this way? Each generation despairing of the next generation.

    But it was rubbish when I was a student and it is clearly rubbish today. There is a huge amount of energy and creativity among young people. This fact was powerfully re-enforced to me when I was invited to speak at a session being held by the UpRising programme at the Young Foundation.

    If you haven’t come across this programme it is well worth a look:

    The official blurb is as follows:

    “UpRising is a new leadership programme being developed by the Young Foundation to support and train a new generation of public leaders. UpRising identifies, recruits, develops and supports 19 to 25 year olds to enable them to play a greater role in politics and public decision-making.

    The aim is to create a pool of talented young leaders from a range of backgrounds who can transform their communities for the better and take up positions of power in public institutions. UpRising was launched in 2008 and is being piloted in the East London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. It will then spread across London and into other major cities across the UK. The programme has cross-party support with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg serving as its patrons.”

    In reality this is true and so much more! I was so impressed by the uprisers that I met. What marked them all out was their individual campaign that they were running and their sheer passion for changing the world. It was an incredibly energising evening just to be in their company.

    I was fortunate enough to attend their last graduation event, and it was very evident that all of the course participants had gained so much from this programme and from each other.

    The Young Foundation has started something very special with this UpRising programme, and I hope that they are successful in rolling it out beyond East London – I think our country would gain massively from an UpRising programme in every part of the UK. We need to encourage these passionate young leaders who want to change the world!

  89. Campaigning using New Media

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    At the last few campaign training events that I have attended, there seems to be a constant theme emerging – we must make more use of new media. And there are campaigners scratching their heads as they muse over how they might use these new techniques to advance their campaigning.

    I must confess that my heart just sinks when I hear such talk. For me campaigning is all about people inspiring people to get involved and take action. Successful campaigning is all about the human touch, and we will never be able to motivate campaigners by just relying on new media.

    Or at least that is what I used to think, but I hope that I am big enough to realise when I am wrong, and there has been one web site that has made me re-think my traditionalist outlook.

    I would urge you to visit this website:

    This campaign is being led by Searchlight to counter racism and fascism with support as I understand from ‘Blue State Digital’, which was involved with Obama’s successful campaign last year.

    I registered a few months ago and I have been bowled over by their approach to new media campaigning. Their upbeat emails present a clever mix of campaigning asks and funding appeals, and they are excellent at giving you feedback on your actions using each action to build momentum for the next action.

    So if you share my traditionalist approach to campaigning, just check out this website and you will see an energising 21st century approach to campaigning. And I for one now need to re-think my view on new media with its genuine potential to harness campaigning energy.

  90. Support for campaigners – better than ever

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    I well remember how it was when I got my first job as a campaigner for a charity.

    I was hugely excited at the prospect of having a campaigning job, but we were more or less thrown into the deep end and expected to pick it up as we went along. It was just the way it was! My key way of learning was just to try things, dust myself down when they failed, learn from the experience and try again.

    With this memory behind me, I spent a weekend recently helping to run a residential weekend for the winners of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation campaign awards. I found it inspiring to be in the company of these award winners.

    In the past I have written about campaigning being all about having a burning passion to achieve change – and these award winners had this passion in abundance. What really struck me about the weekend was that all the participants wanted to be there and they were hungry to learn anything that might help them to drive their campaign forward. I was envious that they had a peer group of fellow campaigners and they had access to support to help them to develop their campaigning – I would have loved to have had such an opportunity!

    If you are a campaigner and you don’t know about this Foundation, (I know that I am biased) but they are well worth a look –

    They are particularly focussed on the next generation of campaigners and provide support through training, web resources and their campaign awards. The ’09 awards should be launched soon so watch out for that.

    It does feel quite an exciting time to be a campaigner with this level of support available. When I started out, not that I’m bitter of course, there was nothing like the Foundation or indeed the NCVO’s campaigning effectiveness programme – see – again well worth a look.

    So if you are a campaigner with that burning desire to achieve change, do make sure that you make maximum use of these excellent resources and support.

  91. ActionAid’s campaigning postcard

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    I have not always been the biggest fan of campaign postcards. There are some campaigning organisations for which the campaign postcard seems to be the only possible activity – with every newsletter or magazine there is another postcard waiting to be signed and sent off.

    But just before Christmas I received a campaign action from Action Aid UK. At first it seemed as though it was just another postcard. But after a cursory glance it was more and it caught my attention.

    It was very cleverly designed and on the front cover there was a space for a 5 pence piece and on this space there was an adhesive substance that would allow you to stick such a coin. The message was aimed at Tesco and highlighted the fact that a 5 pence increase on the price paid for a kilo of apples by Tesco could allow a fruit picker in South Africa to feed their family properly.

    Action Aid’s supporters were being asked to put their hands in their pocket, put 5 pence on the card and send it to Tesco’s chief executive – or even better to hand it into their local Tesco store.

    Now I know that this stunt is not original; I can remember debt campaigners taking similar action years ago. But this action request really resonated with me, and there and then I found a 5 pence piece, signed the card and sent it off.

    I liked it because Action Aid presented a clear problem – the poor wages of fruit pickers. They then showed the solution – a 5 pence increase on the price paid for a kilo of apples. And they encouraged you to take action and to show your commitment by sending Tesco a 5 pence coin. Excellent!

    I will follow this campaign with interest to see what result Action Aid gain from this card, and it shows me that there is still a place for a well thought-out postcard campaign action.

  92. Paul Newman – did he have The Right Ethos?

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    This time last year I wrote following the death of Anita Roddick – about whether she had The Right Ethos – which she clearly did have.

    Sadly, I’m writing today about Paul Newman who died last month – another individual who used their wealth and celebrity to try and make positive change in the world.

    I met Paul Newman, in September 2004 (corrected from e-newsletter, which said 2005). It was a genuinely bizarre but wonderful encounter.

    It was on Highbury Fields in Islington. I was the Deputy Mayor of the council at the time. And he was promoting his Newman’s Own food range – all the profits of which go to support children’s charities.

    To keep the children’s theme, Paul Newman was there performing as a clown at a special event as part of Zippo’s circus. There I told you it was bizarre, he was dressed as a clown and me and my wife, Cath, as deputy mayor and mayoress in our chains of office.

    After the performance, we were introduced to him. We expected a quick handshake and to be moved on – but instead we spent a cherished 4 minutes talking to him, mainly about Blair and politics. Just to confirm that those blue eyes were incredible close up.

    It was a cherished moment because I knew the power of the man. Obviously I loved his films – particularly Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and The Sting.

    I also admired his commitment to philanthropy including the establishment of summer camps for children who suffered from life-threatening illnesses.

    But what was great about Paul Newman – why he had The Right Ethos – was his commitment to human rights. Supporting unpopular causes which could have at least limited or even stopped his career.

    Newman was also a vocal supporter of gay rights and, in particular, same-sex marriage.

    He once said

    “I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being… by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant. “

    In 1963, Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, demonstrated in Alabama with James Garner and Marlon Brando, promoting civil rights, and in 1968 they opposed the war in Vietnam.

    He championed the cause of nuclear non-proliferation and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter appointed Newman as a US delegate to the UN Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.

    It is not surprising then and clear confirmation of Newman having The Right Ethos that he was 19th on the enemy list of Richard Nixon.

  93. Why it’s important to have The Right Ethos

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    I often wonder whether people fully understand what our organisation means by the term “The Right Ethos”. And why our recruitment consultancy, which specialises with organisations that campaign, felt it important enough to use the term as its name.

    Recently we successfully placed a candidate who I felt epitomised the sort of candidates that we want to attract to The Right Ethos. She had the qualities that our client needed for them to succeed.

    She had about four years experience as a fundraiser for a hospital. I think she was grateful for the job but not comfortable fundraising for a charity which she wasn’t particularly passionate about.

    She had gained very transferable skills and experience useful for most charities and campaigns. She came to The Right Ethos determined to work for a campaign that she cared about. I interviewed her and was convinced by her enthusiasm to work for a cause that campaigned to improve our society or our world.

    We fortunately had a role that was perfect for her – however, the salary was about 18% less than she was currently earning. But she didn’t need any persuading that it was a good move for her. She was determined to work for this campaign – even though financially she would be out of pocket.

    The best part of the job of a recruitment consultant is when a candidate, who you’ve got to know and understand, which is necessary if you are going to match them with the right role and organisation, gets the job they really want. And this is what exactly happened – she was delighted to hear the news. Happily resigned to taking a drop in salary, as for her this was taking her in the right direction for her career and her life.

    Now she has The Right Ethos. But it isn’t just about commitment. I think our successful candidates are a different breed to people who want to work for a conventional charity. For the candidates that we select, it’s also about wanting to be involved in political change. Not simply about offering charity, but about working for justice as they can see a wrong that needs to be fundamentally righted.

    When I first drafted this article for ngomedia last December, the newspapers were dominated with the news of the unfortunate British teacher in Sudan, who inadvertently caused offence with the name of a toy. This issue achieved many times the coverage and causing so much more outrage and anguish in the UK media than the death of over 400,000 people in the conflict in Sudan in recent years.

    This for me is an example of the incorrect balance of priorities we still have in the UK.

    I don’t believe our society is wholly wrong – but something is clearly a bit skewed, if we give more attention to the imprisonment of one British person against the deaths of so many Sudanese people.

    Another example of this being that of the extreme amounts of media focus on the fate of one child, Madeline McCann whilst other children in the UK and across the world are mistreated or killed.
    That’s why we firmly believe that best placed to correcting this and the several other problem situations or injustices are the many campaigning organisations that The Right Ethos works with – be it on social justice, human rights, animal rights, democracy, housing, the environment or other just causes. And their individual staff members working for justice and long term change. To do so their starting point is having the right ethos.

  94. Hope for campaigners

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    As a campaigner, I always take a special interest when people are recruited to the big campaigning leadership roles in our sector.

    Therefore I was interested to see Friends of the Earth (FoE) advertise for a new Director recently – who would they appoint to this key role?

    You probably know that they appointed Andy Atkins, who had been previously Policy and Campaigns Director at Tearfund.  Now I haven’t had much contact with FoE and I have never met Andy; yet what really struck me about this appointment was the statement that FoE put out to announce Andy’s appointment. This is a big job and a complex leadership role, so it was refreshing to read in the statement the high value placed on Andy’s campaigning track record.

    FoE cited Andy’s role in initiating Tearfund’s work on climate change and his role as a key organiser and spokesperson for Make Poverty History. They highlighted his ‘strong track record of campaigning on environmental and social justice issues.’

    In our sector we rightly place much store on the importance of good management in our leaders, but we are also a campaigning sector. This is one element that makes our sector unique in this country. We need our leaders to be good managers but also to have campaigning spark. So it was so good to see FoE highlight Andy’s campaigning credentials.

    This appointment should give hope to all campaigners out there – you really can progress as a campaigner in our sector!

  95. The danger of co-option

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    I had just started my presentation on coping when you make a breakthrough on a campaign, when I was asked a killer question from the back of the room. This session was part of INTRAC’s advocacy training course. As ever the course was attended by an impressive array of campaigners from NGOs across the globe. And the killer question? “Wasn’t I being co-opted by government?”

    It was a fair point. I had been talking about the time that I had been campaigning against empty homes in England. We had been pushing for new powers for local authorities to tackle the problem of empty homes and we had managed to persuade the Government to amend their own housing Bill.

    Once these powers had become law, there then started the long process of preparing for the implementation of these new powers. As a result my colleagues and I began to attend a series of meetings in Whitehall.

    I remember walking to one such meeting and one of my colleagues asking me, “do you think that we are having any impact here?” I immediately launched into a defence of our action and cited all of the meetings that we had attended. “Yes, but have we made any impact?” was my colleague’s direct reply.

    And he was right. We had partly been seduced by the fact that we had been invited to meetings to which we had never had access before. This was an achievement – certainly for an NGO with less than 10 members of staff. But this was not an end in itself and we had confused access for influence

    When you make a breakthrough on a campaign, you need to decide whether you are going to get involved in the implementation of the issue or whether you do not want to be involved and then walk away. Either response has its merits – but you do need to decide. If you decide to engage with the government, or whoever your target is, you do need to keep that campaigning zeal.

    I sometimes think that co-option is a deliberate policy of this government – and if it is deliberate, then it is a shrewd policy. Once you are on the inside you can think that you have achieved a result. The truth is that you have only just started to achieve a result. Just being at the table is not enough. You need to use this access to get the best result for your campaign.

    So when you get an invitation to a meeting – ask yourself – are we being co-opted and neutralised or can I use this opportunity to drive the campaign onwards? This is a killer question for a campaigner, so make sure that you keep asking yourself this question.

  96. Surprising allies

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    Recently I did a session on the certificate in campaigning course. It is great to be involved in this initiative and be in the same room as a whole group of people who want to change the world. I am always interested to hear about the key issues raised in the subsequent discussion.

    Last time the key issue was the difference between marketing and single-issue campaigns, and this time the main focus was around how you can use allies in a campaign.

    It is always good when you see a group of charities in one part of the voluntary sector coming together in a common cause; for example the children’s charities producing a joint letter on an issue of concern. Yet I am always left feeling that I rather would hope that they could agree on such issues.

    What I think can have more impact is when you get organisations coming together with a common purpose but where is not an obvious connection between them – the so-called ‘surprising allies’.

    I know when Oxfam was campaigning on asylum issues in the UK several years ago, we began to make dramatic strides forward when we worked with the Refugee Council and the Transport and General Workers’ Union. This impact was further multiplied when we were able to bring in others like the Body Shop and the British Medical Association. This was a diverse group of organisations that hadn’t all worked together before; yet they were now united by a common campaigning cause.

    So when you are planning your campaign, do look to gain support from your own sector – this is a helpful foundation for a good campaign. But then think about others whom you could bring in to support your campaign. Who are the surprising allies on your campaign?

  97. Campaigning is just about stunts

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    I recently found myself talking to a chief executive of a leading UK charity, and I asked about her view of charities campaigning. Her response surprised me – she replied by saying, “oh, we won’t be doing much of that – campaigning is just about stunts.”

    Campaigning can certainly include stunts. I remember when Tony Blair was proposing to reform the House of Lords, and his preferred route seemed to be, at the time, an appointed second chamber. As a result of that decision, Charter 88 arranged a brilliant photo shoot on Palace Green with loads of people in robes all with masks of Tony Blair. Yes it was a stunt – but what a powerful way to challenge a policy decision.

    Yet campaigning is so much more than stunts. Whenever I have done campaign training within an organisation, I have always started by asking people how they define campaigning. When you pose this question you will always get a wide array of answers, and that is not a problem – campaigning is firmly an art and not a science. What I think is important is not that there is one universal answer to this question, but that the organisation has a common definition that everyone signs up to.

    For me campaigning is about having a burning desire to achieve a policy or practice change. Once you have identified the problem and the solution, a campaigner then assesses the political environment and decides which campaigning tool (or tools) to use to drive the campaign forward. These tools can include media work, lobbying, supporter action, work with allies and even stunts.

    The critical point is that the choice of tool is made in the context of both the political environment and the goal of the campaign.

    So campaigning stunts will always have their place – but let’s start with that burning desire to achieve change – and the rest should then follow!

  98. Did Bagpuss have The Right Ethos?

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    Children’s television programme maker Oliver Postgate died aged 83 in December. He was behind the classic children’s TV programmes Bagpuss, The Clangers, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Pogles and Pingwings.

    He made the bulk of the shows while living at Wave Crest in Whitstable – about half a mile from where I’m writing this article in the offices of The Right Ethos.

    Oliver Postgate had The Right Ethos. His family had a strong socialist history. His grandfather on his mother’s side was George Lansbury, Labour party leader from 1932 to 1935, one of his aunts Margaret Cole of the formidable Fabian partnership of GDH Cole and Margaret Cole.

    The young Oliver registered as a conscientious objector when he reached call-up age during the second world war, and spent some months in prison.

    Postgate subsequently worked for the Red Cross in occupied Germany. Back home, he went into partnership with Peter Firmin, forming the production company Smallfilms which produced the children’s TV classics.

    Postgate was later to be active in the campaign against nuclear weapons, addressing public meetings and writing pamphlets.

    But did Bagpuss have The Right Ethos? It’s inconclusive. Postgate, of a left-wing persuasion, described Bagpuss as a Miaow-ist