Don’t just complain... Campaign

 

Your guide to running a community campaign

Campaigning
 

Campaigning

  • Have you ever wanted to have your say on a local issue but are unsure how to go about it?

  • Do you want to change something in your community but don't know where to start?

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever does." Margaret Mead (US anthropologist)

Good campaigns run by local people can make things better. All the time, decisions are being made that affect your life. From climate change to speed bumps, from globalisation to school meals. If you care strongly about anything, there's something you can do. Every issue is one where you could have your say - there are lots of opportunities to get involved. In fact, you have incredible power, but only if you choose to use it.

It's worth doing. After all, if your voice isn't being heard, then whose is?

  • You don't need to be a politician
  • You don't need millions of pounds
  • You don't need a huge organisation
  • You don't even need to have done it before 

You need an idea and you need to care enough about something to want to make a change. But it can be hard to know where to start. 

Getting Started

"Vision without action is merely dreaming. Action with no vision is just passing time. But with vision and action you can change the world." Nelson Mandela

A well-planned campaign is more likely to be successful. In order to develop a strong plan, ask yourself two questions: 

  • What do we want to change?
  • How are we going to do it? 

A good campaign involves: 

  • setting goals
  • making a strong case
  • working in a team
  • time and money
  • getting the message across

Make sure your plan covers all of these things.

Strengthening your case - Campaigning is about convincing other people to support your point of view

 "Convincing yourself doesn't win an argument."

Your campaign needs a strong foundation. This means: 

1)     Learn how the system works: 

  • The relevant law
  • Who's responsible for what
  • How decisions are made 

2)     Research your argument: 

  • Look at public opinion, previous examples, government and other statistics.
  • Conduct a Survey - increasingly groups are using online resources, such as Survey Monkey (where the views of up to 100 can be collected for free) 
  • Use a Petition to support your argument (see the resources detailed at the end of this article, where you can download a petition template or use one of the many online survey resources) 

3)     develop the right message: 

  • Keep it simple.
  • Think about your audience. 

4)     Conduct your campaign in the right way: 

  • Maintain respect, fairness and facts.
  • Work within the law. 

5)     Fundraising, events, publicity 

"The act of playing for the team makes every individual stronger." Arsene Wenger 

Working in a team 

A well functioning team is key to the success of your campaign. Spend some time thinking about how you could recruit members to your campaign: 

  • How would you target people that are likely to be committed to what you are campaigning for?
  • Does your group need members with key skills - where can you find them?
  • How would you use your campaign resources to attract new members to your campaign? 

You might wish to publicise you need for volunteers via this website or via www.volunteeringbedford.org.uk.  

It is important to get your whole team involved in setting the goals and the objectives of the campaign. Get everybody to agree to: 

  • what a successful outcome for the campaign would be
  • your campaign's main objectives
  • how you as a team work together 

There are lots of roles to perform in a team: 

  • Campaign co-ordinator.
  • Events co-ordinator.
  • Treasurer.
  • Meeting facilitator.
  • PR person. 

It's up to you to decide whether you want to have several people per role or several roles per person. Do think about involving everybody in the team.or several roles per person.

Time & Money 

Time will be precious - to make the most of it draw up a timetable for events and actions and set deadlines.  

You won't need much money to run a successful campaign. But if you think more money would improve your campaign try these sources to raise money: 

  • Contribute your own money to fund your campaign.
  • Do some public fundraising.
  • Get sponsorship.
  • Apply for grants. 

Visit this sites 'Funding Sources Page' or www.yourcvs.org for potential sources of funding. 

Reaching the right people 

"We need not accept the paradox that gives us more ways than ever to speak, and leaves the public with a wider feeling than ever before that their voices are not being heard." Robin Cook

Getting to the right people is vital. So is building support in your community. 

Think about all the different types of decision makers and influencers: 

Politicians:  

Council Officers: 

  • Town Clerk, Ampthill Town Council, 66 Dunstable Street, Ampthill, Beds, MK45 2JS

Other Influencers:

  • Businesses - Ampthill Chamber of Trade & Commerce
  • The Media - Around the Pump Newsletter, Fuddler Newsletter, Times and Citizen, Bedfordshire on Sunday, Town Websites 

You might be surprised at who's interested in your campaign, but you'll never know until you ask! 

Campaign Objectives Achieved! What Next? 

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." Douglas Adams 

You've done it! Well done. 

You had the idea, worked in a team, held your events and pushed your campaign. 

The value of campaigning, both personally and in your community, comes from taking part in the way decisions are made. Even if you didn't achieve 100% of your goals, you will have played your part and had an influence. 

Although you might have wrapped up your campaign, the people you've worked with, the energy and the commitment will still be around. From residents' associations to the largest charities in the country, most campaigning groups start out focused on one issue. They get so much momentum, they decide that all of the things that went into the campaign were worthwhile and worth turning into something permanent. 

You might want to ask whether your campaign can be turned into a permanent group. If this is the case why not visit our 'Starting a New Group Page' or contact Community and Voluntary Service 43 Bromham Road, Bedford, MK40 2AA. Tel: 01234 354366. Email: info@yourcvs.org  Website: www.yourcvs.org.  

If you decide to disband your group, think about how you personally can capture everything you learned. 

Maybe you now want to join another campaign group or a political party. Indeed it may inspire you to stand for election Ampthill Town Council or for Central Beds Unitary Authority, if so visit this sites' 'Standing as a Councillor' page. Standing as an Independent Councillor may be an option, as it could be argued that your communities interests are foremost in your mind ahead of petty political point scoring as political party councillors. To find out about standing as an Independent Councillor visit www.picx.co.uk.  

Maybe you want to try to find other campaigns who could use your experience. Maybe you've got another burning issue. Looking back at everyone you've met, everything you've tried and everything you've learned, you will be far better prepared to have your say than you were at the start of your campaign. So it makes sense to use your experience. 

The most important thing is to stay involved. 

(Full details at www.campaigncreator.org a resource developed by Bristol City Council)

Further Campaigning Tools

Campaign Central

CampaignCentral is an innovative new website fhat connects, informs and supports campaigners. The site is full of useful resources. Plus you can register your campaign. Website: www.campaigncentral.org.uk

WriteToThem

A site set up by a group of volunteers who thought it would be a good thing if it were easier for people to contact their MPs. Website: www.writetothem.com

TheyWorkForYou 

A non-partisan, volunteer-run website which aims to make it easy for people to keep tabs on their elected and unelected representatives in Parliament. Website: www.theyworkforyou.com

Petitions

ePetitions are an easy way for people who want to show support for, or rally against an issue, to gather and register their interests in a convenient collective manner. Much like an offline petition, participants can read more about a particular issue and then choose to show their support by including their details and their electronic 'vote'.

Alternatively, you may wish to collect signatures in the old fashion way! If so download the petition template below and customise it to your campaign's needs.

Download: Petition Template

Petitions in respect of local authority responsibilities should be submitted to:

  • Ampthill Town Council - Town Clerk, Ampthill Town Council, 66 Dunstable Street, Ampthill, Beds, MK45 2RJ
  • Central Beds Council - The Chairman of Central Beds Council, Priory House, Monks Way, Chicksands, Beds, SG17 5TQ.

Pledgebank

We all know what it is like to feel powerless, that our own actions can't really change the things that we want to change. PledgeBank is about beating that feeling. Pledgebank is a place where people can pledge to do something as long as they get backing and momentum from the community at large. Website: http://www.pledgebank.com/

Local Campaigns