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What is Campaigning?

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Campaigning is about creating a change. You might call it influencing, voice, advocacy or campaigning, but all these activities are about creating change.

Whatever you call it – and whether you are trying to save a local community centre from closing or lobbying government – the voluntary and community sector campaigns to create positive changes in the world.

The impact is the real world change created by a campaign: this is the difference it makes to people’s lives or environment.

Why campaign?

Campaigning can be the best and most effective way of achieving your goals. There are many reasons why voluntary and community organisations campaign as a way of achieving their mission:

  • Campaigning can address the root causes of social problems and not just their effects. Some organisations may take a two-pronged approach - they might provide services to support people experiencing a particular problem, while also campaigning to tackle the root cause of the problem. An example might be a government policy or decision.
  • Campaigning can shine a spotlight on emerging issues that have not yet been picked up by policy makers. Because voluntary and community organisations are often very close to their service users and beneficiaries, organisations can use evidence from their experience to highlight these issues.
  • Campaigning can help give a voice to those without one, or bring together disparate voices to create a collective roar.
  • Campaigning can lead to social change and the provision by the state of resources, services and entitlements that are many times greater than the resources that were used to run the campaign.
  • Campaigning is sometimes the only action possible, especially when the scale of the problem is large or cannot be dealt with without state intervention.

Who campaigns?

Anyone can campaign. You may be a parent who wants to save a local park from private developers, or an international human rights organisation challenging the legality of anti-terrorism legislation.

Some campaigners are paid employees, but most are volunteers who have made the choice to help improve a situation that is important to them.

There are many different ways to campaign, but commitment and passion for the cause or issue is an essential requirement for a good campaigner. You can also take a look at our short video on campaigning essentials which introduces some of the main concepts in campaigning.

If you want to learn more you can read NCVO’s Good Guide to Campaigning and Influencing or join one of NCVO’s courses on campaigning.

Page last edited Sep 28, 2018

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