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Ingredients of effective campaign management

  • Purpose: A shared vision and purpose, translated into action plans with milestones (i.e. outcomes or objectives to be attained at different moments of campaign implementation) and time-lines to formalize commitments (see also Campaign action planning in this section).
  • Terms of Engagement: Binding terms of engagement determine a) the roles of the different actors in the campaign, b) the time and resources each actor (whether individual or organization) will contribute to the campaign, c) who is responsible for raising additional funds, and accountability mechanisms for funds raised, d) management processes, such as communication channels, periodicity of meetings, documentation methods, rules for conflict resolution, and other aspects of working together efficiently. Decision-making authority and processes should be defined and stated explicitly and compliance be ensured through appropriate mechanisms.
  • Resources: Sufficient funds, staff, materials and time must be allocated to the campaign. In an alliance where campaigning responsibilities are spread over several members, it is advisable to agree on the funds each member allocates to the campaign or agrees to contribute, as well as the minimum amounts of time each member organization will devote to the campaign (e.g. half a work-day per week). For some aspects of the campaign, top leadership or highly specialized staff may need to be involved: their necessary contribution should be defined and monitored as well.
  • Process and Structure: A campaign will have multiple layers of participation so the development of clear roles and responsibilities is important. For example, a coordinator could be appointed for day-to-day campaign management. Task forces can bring together different members on specific aspects of the campaign, such as communications, or monitoring and evaluation, or particular sub-themes. Financial responsibilities should be spread over several persons so as to ensure proper checks and balances. Unclear or undemocratic structures and processes could demoralize alliance members and weaken a campaign. Transparent, written procedures spreading responsibility over several alliance members can help to prevent crises.

Practical Tip:

Use visualization tools to verify whether the campaign structure and processes are transparent, and accountable to your allies. Draw a simple map showing the different bodies of your alliance, such as the steering group, the campaign coordination team and task forces, and use lines and arrows to show how these bodies interrelate. Then, write the names of the actual persons involved next to each body. If you experience difficulties drawing an intelligible map, or you find the same names spread over many different bodies, then your structure may be unclear or skewed.

  • Flexibility and responsiveness: Emergencies may require urgent decisions based on rapid, limited consultation with others. It is vital to define emergency procedures early in the planning process. Emergency procedures or contingency plans should include criteria as to what constitutes an emergency, so as to prevent misunderstandings and potential abuse.
  •  A successful campaign requires the shifting of capacities over time, as intermediary campaign objectives or milestones are reached. For example, each phase of the Stages of Change model of Raising Voices (Uganda) and We Can (South Asia) campaigns requires different types of messages and activities, which call for different skills in the campaign team. Such “adaptive challenges” (Heifetz and Laurie, 1997. The Work of Leadership) need to be recognized, planned for and responded to.

Bear in mind: The public nature of campaigning could mean that any errors or mistakes may lead to highly damaging consequences, jeopardizing the campaign and attainment of its goals. Campaigns must be run and their assets managed by knowledgeable, experienced people. Hiring dedicated staff may be a solution in organizations or alliances with little campaigning experience. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to join an existing campaign so as to gather experience before launching a new initiative.