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 http://www.morelikepeople.org/the-book/
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.