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How to campaign at festivals

More and more UK charities are using festivals to raise awareness of their latest campaigns. Festivals can offer a cheap and exciting way of engaging people in your latest initiative. The friendly vibe that flows through festivals lends itself perfectly to festival goers signing pledges and participating in fun, small actions. Here's some ideas to get you started.

1

Find the right festival

Festival organisers are eager to embrace charities that represent the ethos and values of their event. So, examine synergies between your brand and those of different festivals. For example, if your charity has a climate change  awareness campaign, the chances are you would be great brand enhancement for a festival like Green Man. Glastonbury also has an extremely strong representation of charities campaigning about climate change and anti nuclear issues, as these are causes organiser Michael Eavis is passionate about.

2

Think local

With approximately 450 festivals in the UK each year, this market isn’t just open to large national charities. The likelihood is there’s a festival near you, wherever your charity is based.

Not every charity will get a video and stage at Glastonbury – start small and scale up. With the smaller festivals you may be able to contact organisers directly; large festivals will have dedicated staff for people wishing to have a presence at the festival.

3

Think small actions and rewards

Think about ways to engage people at the festival. What can you give them as an incentive to do something? What appeals to festival goers and connects with your brand / campaign? A good example of this is WaterAid who gave a free glass of water to people who signed up to support their Loo Queue campaign.

4

Get free tickets

Use free festival tickets to attract volunteers to help at the festival.

5

Get people to join in

Many people like to prove they didn’t just spend their festival in a haze. A great example of this is Oxfam’s blue in the face campaign, which asked festival goers to paint their faces blue and have their photo added to a petition calling for the PM to take action on climate change. You could also create a small activity stand-visitors can do on the day. At Glastonbury this year, Climate Rush created a Plan your own Climate activism sheet.

6

Some examples

These are some inspiring campaigns from this year’s Glastonbury that may help you convince managers that festival campaigning could be great for your organisation.

Further information

This guide is based on an article I wrote for CharityComms' AskCharity blog in July 2011.

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Page last edited Jun 23, 2017 History

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