A GUIDE TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN: PART ONE

YOU’RE CAMPAIGN SHOULD ALWAYS INCLUDE A CLEAR COMMITMENT TO NON-VIOLENT APPROACHES. MOST OF THE BASIC STEPS IN CAMPAIGNING ARE THE SAME: RESEARCH AND COLLECT INFORMATION, EDUCATE AND TRAIN, INFORM AND DEVELOP A STRATEGY.

Many organisations and campaigns are commited to nonviolent approaches, have statements with clearly set out principles that explain their perspectives. Approaches to successful campaigning can be a combination of active resistance, civil disobedience and dialogue. It can combine non operational withdrawal of support from a system of oppression, with constructive work to build alternatives. When engaging in a conflicting situation you must always bring a plan of action that supports reconciliation with it: strengthening the social fabric, empowering those seen to be at the bottom of societys structure, and including a diverse and all encompassing group of individuals seeking the same solution. Even when aims and objectives cannot be immediately achieved you must always adhere to your principles.

 

The following list identifies specific principles particular to non-violent campaigning. The use of these principles may lay out a guideline that best defines your agreements as a group for the purpose of your campaign.

  • Acknowledge the value of each member as an individual.; This is fundamental: recognising the dignity and humanity of yourself and others. Never set out ot mistreat your opponent of see them as your enemy.
  • Recognise that you are always in possession of part of the truth, no-one has all of it. No one is right or wrong. All campaign information gathering, education and action should reflect this.
  • Your actions should always emphasise openmindedness ot promote communication and democratic process. You should always work towards processes that express ‘power with’ not ‘power over’ Empowering all involved in your campaign is important. Always promote democratic structures both internally and externally to maximise self determination.
  • Always ensure that your actions and behaviours are consistent with your end result. This should include affirming better quality of life in your chosen end game, opposing oppression and seeking justice for those you represent, valuing every person. Your strategy must be based on this principle, you cannot justify a ‘victory’ obtained through intimidating or decietful methods.
  • Always be willing to undergo suffering rather than inflicting it. Refusing to inflict suffering by intimidation tactics or negative conflict is based on the value of each person and is a strategy that draws attention to your commitment and your cause. This will also keep your momentum going in the public eye and maintain the respect of others with an interest in your cause. You must always be prepared for conflicting situation and have a structured plan to adopt should this happen.
  • All members should be commited to following all principles and guidelines set out prior to any campaign launch. These should be agreed upon as a group prior to any action being undertaken.

All participants in any form of campaign must be fully informed of all aspects of the campaign and be regularily updated on anything even remotely connected to their campaign. They must firstly be fully aware of the aims and objectives of the campaign and all guidelines and principles to support the campaign.

The guidelines and principles are not the same. Guidelines are agreements on how participants in the campaign will behave when carying out any form of action related to the campaign. They will be set out in very practical terms and can be very simple or very philosophical. Depending on the nature of your campaign. One philosophical guideline ot always adhere to may be….

”WE SHOULD ALWAYS GATHER TOGETHER IN A MANNER THAT REFLECTS THE WORLD WE CHOOSE TO CREATE”

Even in a small group discussions will constantly bring up different interpretations and varied levels of understanding and direction. This must be seen as a means of growth and accunulating strength. Not as a sign of weakness.This will depend on how the group approach each situation and how quickly it is resolved. Guidelines make clear what is expected and set a unified spirit within the group and all participants. In the midst of your campaign it is easy for the tone of any interactions to move into some form of conflicting nature. Always be aware that is the aim of any opposition to provoke a negative reaction from you and discredit your group or movement. Specific agreements and training can reduce the risk of a negative reaction when in a situation of this nature.

It is crucial that all participants in any interactions reflect the principles of your group to maintain an effective campaign.

 

PLANNING YOUR CAMPAIGN.

Singular actions will not bring results to your campaign if not supported and in conjuntion with other events or actions. This can sometimes be the result of jumping into action or activity without stepping back or looking ahead. Too often groups go straight from identifying a problem to picking a tactic to address it. Or at the other end of the spectrum ‘paralysis of analysis’ educating yourselves and others but never putting in any action and therefore never achieving their goals. The power of any group depends on creatively combining tactics, strategic thinking and an individuals commitment.

Influencing change on a specific issue usually requires a campaign that is connected to a series of events, actions and activitiescarried out over a period of time to achieve specific goals. Campaigns are startd by groups of individuals with a common concern. A common understanding and vision, specifically identified goals, an intensive process of research, education and training strengthens and expands the number of participants who will productively engage in activities and action.

A campaign has goals on many different levels. First is a specific demand or goal. Most campaigns challenge policies made by people at the top of some kind of hierarchy. To effectively reach this goal there needs to be a new factor brought to their decision making. This can be done by persuading themwith new evidence based information, convincing those on whose support they depend, or warning them of the resistance they may face and the reasons behind the resistance. A campaign also has internal goals such as building hte capacity and number of their participants. This involves empowering all who are involved and those who may be affected by the policies or proposed plan of action that you are campaigning against. A successful camaign takes people through a process of empowerment at all levels, inclusion rather than exclusion, civil and human rights, addressing oppression, etc. This in turn promotes collective power building within your group and all others involved. In training and planning you must consider all aspects of personal empowerment, social empowerment, community power and people power. To develop an effective strategy you must develop effective straegy rthinking skills.

 

DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES.

Creative campaigns are built up from a collective group of individuals who are excited about the idea of collective power to effect change. They are more likely to develop an effective campaign, more likely to develop an effective strategy. If working towards social change in your community you may want to undertake a group process to prepare an effective strategy for moving towards the desired change. A group process draws on the resources already in the group and can generate enthusiasm and commitment.

First step should be to have members of the group discuss and share their own knowledge and experience of the issue and previous campaigns they may have been involved in. A discusion around how change happens and looking at previous similar campaigns is an effective way of learning a successful and positive strategy. Looking a previous campaigns can also raise determination, resourcefulness, passion and dedication levels. If your group has a great deal of knowledge this along with the research and case studies of previous campaigns can provide a solid and effective platform on which to base your campaign. A useful guide to developing an effective strategy could be…

  1. Name and describe the problem or situation and have an indepth conversation around this. Learn the history and build up to the current status of the problem.
  2. Analyse why the problem exists. Know your enemy.
  3. Create a vision of what the group and those the group represent wants and needs, including clear goals.
  4. Develop a strategy to reach the desired goals.

 

NAME AND DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM:  For many who face problems in their daily lives, describing and analysing problems is a natural part of the process of living. But others need to be more intentional about it. These steps are intended to help people move together in a non-hierarchical, inclusive process towards a deeper understanding of effective strategies. Naming and describing a problem or situation may seem like a simple first step but if it is not done collectively you may find tht individuals have different assumptions, different descriptions, different messages and different goals. Goinf through this process together strengthens the participation of the individuals while developing collective action plans.

(to be continued or edited soon….)

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