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Involving people in your campaigning

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Participation is crucial to your campaign. Campaigning gives anyone – be they citizens, service users, specific communities, or consumers – the chance to influence decisions that affect their lives.

Getting your organisation’s stakeholders to engage with your work could take many different forms. The most important thing is to give people a voice in your campaign. Listening to and acting on the concerns and suggestions of your campaigners will go a long way towards helping them feel supported and valued.

Campaign beneficiaries

Charities often use the term ‘beneficiaries' to refer to the people who benefit from their campaigns. Some people dislike this term because they think of it as passive, when in reality many beneficiaries have been actively involved in creating change.

However, other terms like ‘users’, ‘stakeholders’, ‘partners’, or ‘rights holders’ all have their limitations and can only be used in some contexts. We use the terms ‘beneficiary’ or ‘beneficiaries’ in NCVO’s Good Guide to Campaigning and Influencing because they are short and simple.

Different levels of participation

Here are some different ways you can involve people in your campaign:*

  • inform your members, service users or other stakeholders with balanced and objective information
  • consult to obtain feedback on your issue
  • involve to ensure that the needs of your stakeholder group are identified, understood and considered
  • collaborate to develop solutions or agreed course of action in collaboration with your stakeholder group
  • empower to place final decision-making powers in hands of your stakeholder group so they can directly engage in policy process or campaigning.

*Taken from NCVO’s Good Guide to Campaigning and Influencing by Brian Lamb

How to involve people in your campaign

Decide who to involve

Deciding who you need to involve depends on your campaign purpose and the wider context  you’re working in.

There are two main ways to identify your participants:

  • open – this allows anyone who is interested to participate
  • selective – the numbers, types and actual individual participants are identified as part of the process.

If you are selecting participants, think about whether you want them represent to a specific group or cross section of the public, or if you want them to hold specific knowledge, expertise or power.

Your stakeholder analysis will help you identify and prioritise who you could involve in your campaign. You would typically start by listing all the individuals who have an interest in either your organisation’s work as a whole, or in the specific issue you are working on. Questions you might want to ask as part of this process include:

  • who is affected by this issue and by our work?
  • who is influential on this issue?
  • who are the experts on this issue?
  • who are we accountable to?
  • who do we represent?
  • what other organisations are affected or concerned by this issue?
  • who are the decision makers?

Recruit people

Once you have identified your participants, think about how you will recruit them. What barriers might exist for potential participants? How might you address these barriers? These might range from practical considerations such as timing, location, costs or caring responsibilities through to having a particular disability.

Choose your methods

Involve have identified six key factors to consider during the selection process:

  • the number of participants appropriate for your methods
  • the role of participants, including if you select them or if they are self-selecting
  • your budget
  • how long the process will take
  • the outcomes you need from the process
  • how you want people to participate

Once you have identified the method(s) you plan to use, decide if you’ll organise them yourself, or if you’ll need external facilitators or consultants.

Get views and involve people

Brian Lamb explains some different methods for involving people. These include:

  • written consultations
  • questionnaires
  • public meetings
  • focus groups
  • open space
  • citizen panels
  • citizen juries
  • user advisory groups
  • user-led management committees.

Further information

Page last edited Jun 14, 2017

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