Category Archives: How do we do it?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama.
One of the most important aspects of a campaign is making real things happen. Concepts are vital in campaign planning but it is action that ultimately provokes change.
This is where we’ll talk about how we should ask the public to take part. We’ll also look at other campaign actions that have succeeded or failed, and why.

Tips for running a great campaign

The game changers

Joe SaxtonJoe Saxton is the Founder and Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy. In 2007 and 2008, he was named one of the 1,000 most influential people in London by the Evening Standard.

We asked Joe for his top tips for running our next campaign:

1. Campaigns need to be clear on how they will deliver change.

Spending money is easy. A few posters (on the CEO’s route to work), some nice advertising and a good slogan. Hey presto, Scope has got itself a campaign. Well no.

A successful campaign needs to have a clear theory about how it will change things. It needs to be clear on target audiences and it needs to be clear on how it will reach them.

2. Remember the inverse law of change against size of audience.

The biggest audience who is the target of any change, the harder it will be to change their attitudes. So changing the mind of MPs, who number in the hundreds, is much easier than changing the minds of GPs who number in the thousands.

3. Under-promise and over-achieve

Scope is in the habit of claiming it is the UK’s leading disability charity. I admire the aspiration, but worry that Scope may start to believe its own propaganda. Scope simply doesn’t have the resources to be the charity for all disability. Is it really claiming that it has more to say to blind people or those with arthritis, than the specialist charities in those areas? Is Scope really clear what its statement of intent and strategy is behind its bold claim? I don’t know. Any campaign needs to avoid falling into the same trap.

4. Changing attitudes takes a long time.

Changing attitudes is the most difficult campaign task in the world, and disability is no exception. While we have seen massive changes in attitudes to disability, sexuality, race and a host of issues over the last 50 years, change is measured in decades not months. So how long will Scope run its campaign – 6 months, a year?

5. Learn from your history.

Scope’s campaign Time to get Equal was a great example of how to appear aggressive and threatening to the general public, rather than insightful. While a strapline like that may have played well with some disability audiences, it has more of the whiff of a vigilante mob, rather than a broad-based inclusive ethos.

6. Time it right.

Carefully consider ways of saving yourselves extra work in your effort to reach people by having campaigns piggyback on the publicity of any relevant awareness days or news stories. If disability is an issue currently hitting the headlines then you can save yourselves time trying to bring it to public awareness in the first place and the message of your campaign can filter through more efficiently. The same goes for not releasing an expensive campaign which is likely to be drowned out by media activity in other areas; for example, releasing a full scale campaign during the November Poppy Appeal is only going to be competing for people’s attention and you may find yourselves shouting into the wind.

7. The Snowball Effect; Get stakeholder-savvy!

There are hundreds of different stakeholders in a campaign but they can be very broadly split into two groups; the people you want to influence and the actors the people who help you get there.

Actors are frequently thought of as ‘the people behind the scenes’; but realistically, you should be aiming to turn your target audience into instrumental actors who help the campaign ‘snowball’ and gather momentum once they become engaged. For example, if you have a poster on a train (see point 1) and you have used the power of the personal story; can you have your commuters then follow a link to somewhere where they can share their personal stories too? Draw people in to your campaigns and they are more likely to chat about it to friends and family and things snowball.

8. How will change be measured?

Campaigns can often be better at producing the feeling of action, than real change. A campaign isn’t there to produce a rosy glow internally, its there to change the lives of disabled people. So before a campaign is begun, the methods by which it is to be measured (to prevent wiggling and revisionism once the campaign has become).

9. Steps are what is sliding downhill.

Any campaign needs to have stages or steps, which not only better measurement, but also make it easier for people’s attitudes to slip. However, few people have a revolutionary change in attitude, so it is unlikely they will move all in one go. So change takes place in steps. For example, somebody may with good arguments and gentle persuasion believe that first civil partnerships are ok, and then gay marriage, and then gay adoption.

If you would like to submit your story or find out more about the Game Changers community, visit the Game Changers website.

The long wait

The game changers

After he received his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, the filmmaker Jason DaSilva began working with his creative partner Alice Cook on the feature documentary “When I Walk,” which is having its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Together the two have formed AXS Lab Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to telling the stories of the disability experience. His past documentaries have been shown on PBS/POV, HBO and at the Sundance Film Festival.

How to create a kick-ass campaign

The game changers

martin kirk

Martin Kirk is Director of Campaigns at The Rules. He was plucked from Oxfam in June 2012, where he had been heading their UK Campaigning. Before Oxfam, Martin was Head of Global Advocacy for Save the Children UK.

You are doing some really impressive and groundbreaking things right now. You’re being serious about values; you’re taking a longer-term view by looking up to 2020; you’re clearly thinking in terms of narrative, logic and frames, and you’re even collecting good evidence to help you with that, which is something that is very rarely done. All that is wonderful.

It would be daft for me to try to comment on any of the detail of what you are working on. You have all the brainpower and expertise you need looking into that, I’m sure. So I’ve tried to think big and broad, to both encourage you to always see the bigger picture, and because I know from long experience how difficult it can be to see the wood for the trees in our daily work lives. So, I have three suggestions that might help build on all that great work.

Firstly, look forwards. Once you have all the research in, you might try using it to throw your minds even further forwards, create something of a genuinely long term ‘north-star’ for yourselves to aim at, maybe 10 or even 25 years in the future. Sticking as much as possible to the sort of realistic metrics the research will help you define, where do you reasonably think attitudes to disability can be at the far point? Obviously, this won’t be something to set in stone, and must be held lightly, but it can still be a very powerful guide. If I can be very bold, you might even try to bring some other disability organisations into that process. Imagine how powerful would it be if the whole sector shared a long term ‘north star’? Everyone could go off and do their own campaigns and focus on specific issues without needing to slip into that often painful, time consuming and lowest-common-denominator territory of coalitions or co-strategising, but could still agree to always keep half an eye on that long term success point. Perhaps come together once a year in a light-touch review and check-in process. After all, in the absence of things like Paralympics, attitudes and social norms can take that long to shift. If you don’t have some realistic sense of where you’re all heading, you’re much more likely to waste time and energy duplicating or pulling in different, even conflicting directions.

Secondly, look sideways. When Matt Jackson and I were working at Oxfam looking at attitudes to international development, one of the things we did was look for correlations between attitudes to aid and other social attitudes. It turns out the only correlation we could find was how trustworthy people felt the government was in general. Nothing to do with aid directly. The greater the overall levels of trust in the government, the more support there was for aid. The point is that both in terms of attitudes, and in terms of the mechanics of the political economy, the things that could be affecting attitudes to disability may have nothing, on the surface, to do with disability. So what I would suggest is that you try and get in the habit of placing attitudes, and policy analysis, in a broader systems context. Draw systems maps. If you’re not sure where to start, ask someone trained in systems analysis to come in and talk to you about how to go about it. There are lots of people in universities up and down the country who I’m sure would be very happy to share their expertise. And if nothing else, you could read: Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows.

And finally, look inwards. This is a very personal suggestion to everyone working on the campaign. Meditate. If you’re already a meditator, you’ll know why I say this. If you’re not, learn and I promise you, if you do it properly, you will start to realise its power in relatively short order. We can get so caught up with the latest research and the freshest, shiniest knowledge that we easily ignore the infinite source of wisdom and good judgment within each of us. It may all sound hokey and new agey but I wish I had started ten years ago, I really do. I would have been a better campaigner, made better decisions, been a far better and more compassionate manager, and indeed a better person all round. So if you think being more peaceful and loving in your work; less stressed or susceptible to anger and frustration; having access to better judgments, perspective and the incredible, often untapped power of your mind might be at all helpful in making this the kick-ass campaign it can be, then trust me, regular, serious meditation is perhaps your most powerful weapon. Set up meditation sessions at work. Call a local meditation group, I know they’ll want to help (there’s a group called Wake Up London I’ve heard a lot of good things about). I always find it is easier and works better in groups, especially at first, but however it works best for you, give it a go.

And always, of course, have fun!

How do we do it?


Campaigns can be big, hi-tech and involving hundreds of thousands of people. But they can also be started by just a group of determined people sitting down on some steps.

We need a compelling way to get the public to take real action.

Some essential ingredients for a campaign action that has impact:

  1. Be specific – What does the campaign action hope to achieve?
  2. Be achievable – What one or two things do you want your supporters to do? How will this help you to achieve your goal?
  3. Be informed – How will you influence your target?

What other ingredients do you think are key to developing an amazing campaign?

Which campaign actions have you participated in that we could learn from?