My name is Anna, and I’m the Head of Training at Campaign Bootcamp. We’ve built this guide because we see thousands of people apply to come on our programmes, but we never have enough funding to support them all. So — instead of just sending people away — we’re trying to build guides that support anyone to run a great campaign.

This is a brand new guide, and we’re always looking for ways to make it more useful, so if you have any feedback, ideas, requests or suggestions drop me a line at resources@campaignbootcamp.org. Thanks!

Am I a campaigner?

The most common question I hear is “am I a campaigner?”. There are loads of different words for what a campaigner is, some people say activist, changemaker, protestor, community leader, community organiser or troublemaker.

I think of a campaigner as anyone who sees something that they want to change in the world and goes about trying to do that. Most people campaign in their free time, some are lucky enough to have it as part of their job, but that’s very rare.

To be a campaigner you don’t need to have lots of cash, make lots of speeches, be a whizz with computers, or be the most confident person around — all you really need is to want to change something.

So if you’re reading this you probably are already a campaigner. You’re in good company! All over the world, every single day, people are campaigning for things they believe in. Throughout history some of the biggest changes we’ve seen have been brought about by a small group of passionate people working together to bring about change.

What is a campaign?

The second question I normally get is “ok, so what is a campaign”. This is a super important question – lots of people waste a lot of time doing activities that aren’t actually a campaign.

So what is a campaign? Put simply a campaign is when a group of people work together in an organised and active way towards a goal.

Our friends at 350.org describe it really well in a bit more detail:

Our friends at 350.org describe it really well in a bit more detail:

Groups often waste precious energy on an endless series of educational events or actions that don’t seem to add up to anything. In contrast, campaigns channel group power by focusing on a concrete goal.

Campaigns are sustained efforts toward a specific outcome. For instance stopping a coal power plant, or forcing the government to create a climate change impact study.

Campaigns are a powerful way of strategically building group capacity and developing experience. At the same time, campaigns win solid victories for social justice.

Campaigns are different than efforts that just focus on the problems of society. Campaigns identify a piece of what we want and work toward achieving it. Having such a goal strengthens educational events, outreach, and protests.

Campaigns are different than one-time protests. One-time protests, like a large divestment day, can raise people’s awareness. But the power of a campaign is that after an action is over and people ask “how can we help make change?” we offer specific actions for them to take.

Campaigns inspire people to take further action, in addition to helping them understand the depth of the problem—and this all adds up to real change.
From “What is a Campaign” by 350.org.

Why do we campaign?

Campaigning is one of the key ways that change happens today – because they help people tell the powerful that something is going wrong, and get them to fix it.

Campaigning has been a core part of holding the powerful to account, and changing the way our society works, for centuries. Some of the biggest injustices, like the Hillsborough Disaster, have only been confronted because some people came together to form a campaign for justice.

OK - I’m in. How do I plan an effective campaign?

OK great! Now that that’s all cleared up let’s get into the exciting bit — the rest of the guide will focus on how you can plan a really effective campaign.

The most important thing with a campaign is that you start! Many campaigns have won with little, or no plan.

However, from seeing hundreds of campaigns happen I’ve put together some key steps that should help you plan a successful campaign:

Getting ready to campaign

  • Figure out your goal – the big change you want to see
  • Research your campaign to check you’ve got the facts right
  • Set some objectives – which are the things you think need to happen to bring about your goal

Launching your campaign

  • Figure out who has the power to make change happen – this will be your campaign target
  • Set some tactics – which are some activities that will help your objective happen
  • Spreading the word – so you have lots of supporters who will help you win!

Building pressure

  • Escalating your campaign – so your campaign target feels the pressure
  • Look after your physical and mental health – campaigns can be exhausting, and you can’t win unless you take good care of yourself, and those who campaign with you.

All these things together will form your Campaign Plan. People often call a campaign plan a “campaign strategy”. Plans don’t have to be complicated or long, they’re really there to help everyone involved with a campaign to work together, in an organised way to make change happen.

To find out all about those eight steps check out our next guide “how to run a great campaign” by clicking here.