The Anatomy of People-Powered Campaigns

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Every campaign starts with a strong vision of where we want to go. Exceptional campaigns do more than tell a compelling story. They value every individual’s unique potential to achieve something greater than they ever could on their own, and they build collective power in the process. These campaigns give people the information they need to inspire others and react quickly to changing times, to avoid obstacles and seize opportunities.

Campaigners need a mix of these four ingredients to build successful people-powered campaigns:

fig 1: STORY

Beating Heart

Greenpeace supporters are the heroes of our campaigns, embarking on journeys to truly impact issues over time. Greenpeace plays a strategic role in defining challenges and presenting clear theories of change, but the story of our campaigns is ultimately created and told by our supporters—through the words, pictures, videos, and actions that they share with their networks and the world to influence targets and grow campaigns. Greenpeace communications consistently reflect our role as mentor, enabler and aggregator of supporter action.

Built to Travel

Effective narratives are built to travel and are carried by people who validate our message using their own words and take them to places we could not reach directly or on our own.

fig 2: REAL WORK

Many Hands

People-powered campaigns can only succeed with strategic contributions by individuals, activists, and volunteers—online and offline—that shift the balance of power in our favor. These campaigns would literally be impossible to win with staff efforts alone. We embrace the notion that while Greenpeace staff contribute unique and essential expertise to our campaigns, the collective skills and talents among millions of Greenpeace volunteers and supporters can be far greater. One of the most valuable roles staff can play is enabling and empowering activists and volunteers to contribute their greatest talents to create change.

fig 3: DATA

Wide Eyes, Open Ears

We use all available data to make our campaigns smarter and to build better relationships with supporters, activists, and new audiences. We determine what data we’d need to make decisions, and if it’s not being captured yet, we figure out how to get it. We analyse data in order to understand the best points of entry and trends for an online/public dialogue, to engage with supporters based on their complete histories and influence, to test our hypotheses, and to evaluate our performance.

fig 4: ITERATIVE

Fast Feet

We run our campaigns at the speed of the internet—responding to real world events as they occur, and adapting to changing times to meet people where they’re at. To do this, we embrace nimble, lightweight, and low-friction structures and processes that enable talented staff to seize opportunities as they arise (and more quickly than our targets), supported by responsive, accountable management.

Successful people-powered campaigns emulating these four principles above are typically achieved through “integrated” mobilisation teams or efforts—individuals coming together from a cross-section of skills, expertise, or departments to plan and execute campaigns that put people at the center. For more, see the Mobilisation Integration Toolkit.

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