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Leading the campaign

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Management and leadership are needed to facilitate joint work towards the campaign goal. The two terms overlap; “leadership” tends to designate mainly motivational aspects, while “management” has a stronger focus on organizational and planning processes.

In alliances, the term “steering” is frequently used to designate management in a voluntary grouping of autonomous organizations. A steering committee for example, is often a small group of people, typically representatives of different campaign alliance organizations, who are responsible for making decisions about the overall implementation of the campaign. Campaigns may also appoint a coordinator for day-to-day campaign management, or establish task forces to bring together different members on specific aspects of the campaign, such as communications, or monitoring and evaluation, or particular sub-themes.  See also the art of collaboration in alliances below.

It is crucial for a campaign to have some form of leadership, even if it is not expressed in any formal management structure or job titles. Ideally, campaigning also develops leadership among its target audiences, as they may continue to advocate for the campaign goals (policy/institutional change campaigns), or make change in their own lives (behaviour change campaigns).

Types of leadership: Participatory and democratic leadership is widely considered to be most effective in campaigning, as it aims to mobilize the participants’ commitment to the campaign, and to empower them. The leadership’s reputation, and whether the campaign members are seen as legitimate and influential by those the campaign seeks to mobilize and influence, is important as well.

Practical tips for determining the leadership needed 

Envision the leadership necessary for the different levels and activities of the campaign:

  • Which are the core tasks that need leadership (i.e. communications design, media work, organizing events…)?
  • How many leaders are needed to start the campaign, in view of the core tasks required?
  • What skills do they need for the tasks identified?
  • Who needs to be included in the leadership structure to reflect the campaign alliance and its interests?
  • How will members of the leadership team support one another, and what other support is available to them?

Source: Adapted from The Community Toolbox, Work Group for Community Health and Development, University of Kansas, USA.