Campaigning is mobilizing public concern in order to achieve a social, political or commercial aim. It is a series of activities designed to influence the policies and practices of public or private bodies (e.g. governments, institutions, companies).
Campaigning helps to demonstrate that it is not just your organization that is concerned about the issue but also members of the public, voters and consumers. A successful campaign is one that demonstrates the concern of large numbers of the public. This public opposition could damage the government’s reputation (and thus their chances of re-election) or the company’s market share (and thus its share price).
Campaigning is an engine for social change. It not only educates the public about your issue, but also motivates them to speak and act in support of change. Once you achieve critical mass in support of your issue, then you have the chance of lasting change.
‘Raising awareness of an issue’ is not the same as advocacy to change things. Awareness of the issue is just the first step in the engagement process. Many people are already aware, but simply do not think the issue important enough to act on it. To make a real difference to animals’ lives, you have to take people beyond ‘awareness’, to create a sense of urgency and need for change, and to help them to visualize a new future and empower them to play a part in the change.
Campaigning is a motivational exercise. It narrows the focus of attention in order to get people to do something that will lead to change.
The public are beset with concerns and issues, so you need to make them feel that your issue is both important to them and urgent to motivate then to act on this. Then give them tangible actions that demonstrate their concern. You may need to provide skills and resources that people will need in order to take action. For example, you could provide training for activists, effective background notes, briefing before any meeting, specimen letters that they can adapt, a petition that they need to sign, or a list of activities that they can carry out.
Then you build their confidence by sharing and celebrating successes, showing progress, saying ‘thank you’ and explaining the value of their contributions. Supporters need to know that it is possible to succeed.