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?